Eskişehir and some mountain riding to Karabük

I outdid myself this time.  Kütahya to Eskişehir is 78km by the main road.  I took 24 days to cycle between these two cities.  Of course I had some super adventures on the Frig Yolu and a couple diversions in Antalya and Ankara along the way.  I’ve now cycled in over half of Turkey’s 81 provinces.  Given another year or so maybe I can get to the rest of them.

Turks sometimes ask me what my favourite city in Turkey is.  I usually reply, “Trabzon.”  A follow-up question is then: “have you been to Eskişehir?”  Uh, no (I used to say).  “Well, go, it’s the best city in Turkey,” I was repeatedly told.  Could be, could be.  In Eskişehir I stayed with Sabiha‘s nephew, Tolga.  We had met once before in Ankara.  Tolga was a super host.  He’s not a mountaineer/climber/backpacker like Sabiha.  He’s not a cyclist either and hasn’t travelled much.  He’s a young engineer working on the industrial food production machines at ETI, makers of Burçak biscuits (which Kurt favourably reviewed here).

Tolga wanted to make sure I saw some of Eskişehir and, most importantly to a cycle tourist, make sure that I ate well while I was there.  He’s a bit of gourmet, took me out to a yummy kebab place one night, and put together a super fish dinner another night.

DSCN7048 by bryandkeith on flickr

Tolga put together this great fish dinner by bryandkeith on flickr

Eskişehir takes advantage of its setting on the Porsuk River.  Turks talk about it feeling more like a city in Europe than a city in Turkey.  Indeed the stream crossed by small bridges and lined with trendy cafes reminded me of Amsterdam.  To add to the similarity it even started raining.

DSCN7074 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN7077 by bryandkeith on flickr

In another part of town they’ve restored an area full of old Ottoman houses and done a pretty good job with it.  I can certainly see why Eskişehir is a popular weekend excursion for Turks coming from İstanbul, Bursa, and Ankara.

DSCN7067 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN7066 by bryandkeith on flickr

On the road again it was a two-week stretch of continuous mountain cycling from Eskişehir to Karabük.  I chose a route through the somewhat touristy towns of Söğüt, Göynük, and Mudurnu and from there unabashed mountain routes.  I chose the blank areas on the map.  The route north from Karaşar to Gerede, straight to Pazarköy and on through the Eskipazar forest to Karabük was super.  Back roads, big climbs, cool yaylas.  It was the kind of riding that I love and of which Turkey seems to have an endless supply.

DSCN7398 by bryandkeith on flickr

One of the few wind energy projects I've seen in Turkey by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN7145 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN7362 by bryandkeith on flickr

At the Göynük hospital I met Ahmet, Yunus, and friends who took me on an after work 4WD excursion to the yaylas above town.

DSCN7217 by bryandkeith on flickr

Cooking sucuk with Yunus, Ahmet, and friend by bryandkeith on flickr

In Bilecik I happened upon the unexpected incredible Harmanköy Kanyonu.  I tried to walk up it a ways, but the water was almost immediately above my head.  I was not prepared for such an adventure.  I have learned since that Turks take two days with ropes, wetsuits, and life jackets to descend the canyon.

DSCN7103 by bryandkeith on flickr

This is as far as I could go when my probe pole told me the water was above my head. by bryandkeith on flickr

In Mudurnu I visited my first Turkish hamam.  After I spent a wonderful hour or so enjoying the baths, the attendant invited me for a couple beers at the nearby pub.  A funny thing happened while we were at the pub.  There was a glass of rakı and a plate of cheese in front of the empty stool next to me.  Two or three times an employee from a nearby shop came in, drank a slug, ate some cheese, and left.  How’s that for a regular??!!

My first Turkish hamam by bryandkeith on flickr

With the friendly villagers in Nasuhlar I harvested dut (mulberries?) for the first time.  Of course they couldn’t let me leave without sending me off with a supply of pekmez (jam?) they had made from the berries.

DSCN7161 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN7166 by bryandkeith on flickr

Camping and biking, life on the road…

DSCN7341 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN7273 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN7319 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN7383 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN7126 by bryandkeith on flickr

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1 Response to Eskişehir and some mountain riding to Karabük

  1. Paul Koenig says:

    What beautiful landscapes! Makes my days in the basement a little brighter!

    Thanks Brian for sharing your journeys.

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