Visitors to this blog might be wondering why this blog promotes exploring and sightseeing by motorcycle. They might even ask if it wouldn’t be better to just travel by car or by tour bus. The truth is that you can visit nearly every place on this blog by car or by bus. However, it is our opinion that the adventure is not just about the place you are going to, but the journey as well.
One of the most iconic tourist destinations in Ordu is Boztepe. The city of Ordu rests against the eastern slope of the mountain Boztepe, and from the summit visitors are treated to spectacular views of both the Black Sea and the entire city of Ordu. In comparison to other mountains in Ordu, Boztepe at only 450 meters, or 1440 feet, above sea level is not particularly high. However, its proximity to both the city and sea make it perfect for spot for visitors to take in all of Ordu’s natural beauty and for locals to escape from the city to rest and picnic.
In 2011, the City of Ordu constructed a cable car between the city and the top of Boztepe. The 8 person cable car gives the feeling of flying as you skirt just over the rooftops of historic ottoman houses and minarets. While making the assent up the mountain the scenery quickly changes from city to green hazelnut farms. At times you can watch farmers, some elderly women, tend their farms while being careful not to tumble down the very steep slopes. The higher the car climbs the more incredible the views become. On clear days you can even see the snow-capped mountains to the south. The entire trip is 2350 meters (1.5 miles) and takes less than 10 minutes. Once you reach the top there is plenty to do.
Boztepe is becoming more and more of a popular tourist destination. As a result new facilities are continually being built and in the next year a hotel will be finished next to the cable car station. A number of restaurants, souvenir stands, tea gardens, and picnic places are also available. Those who are ready for a “real” adventure can sign up to jump off the mountain with one of the many paragliders. Hopefully the wind will be just right and you’ll end up on the beach and not somewhere out at sea.
Riding the cable car is definitely recommended. However during the summer months, buses of tourists often create long lines and you could wait hours to get your turn to ride. The good news is that the cable car is not the only way to the top. The ride to the top is nearly just as exciting as the cable car, especially if you’re on two wheels. Other benefit for taking a motorcycle is that you won’t have any trouble at the top finding a place to park.
There are two routes to the top of Boztepe. Both start and end at the same place, but they offer different experiences. One road starts near the stadium and winds its way around the side and backside of the mountain. It is very well maintained with decent asphalt. Typically tour buses and shuttles use this route because it is not too steep. The other route, starting from the historic Taşbaşı church, is possibly the most direct to the top. More or less it winds directly up the face of the mountain. This one lane road is old and mostly paved with large stones or paving blocks. The curves are sharp and there are several areas where the road is much steeper than 10% grade. The road is more challenging especially when you meet a car coming from the other direction. The views though are worth the extra challenge. I suggest riding on both. I have found riding up the old route and down the newer road allows for more spirited riding. The new road starts from the stadium, and the old road from the Taşbaşı church.
Whether you park at the bottom and take the cable car or beat the crowds by riding up the mountain on your motorcycle, Boztepe is definitely a recommended adventure during your stay in Ordu.
I was talking to a local the other day about all the places that I had visited in Ordu, and I mentioned some of my favourite places, some of which only a couple of miles from the city. I was shocked to learn that not only had he not been to them, but he had no idea that they even existed. Instead of judging him for this lack of knowledge about the place he had lived his entire life, I sympathized with him as I too have been guilty of the same naiveté.
In almost every place I have ever lived, I rarely visited or explored the local places of interest. Why? Well there is always the excuse that I just didn’t have the time. Life is full. There’s work, family, friends, volunteering, studying, etc. It all comes down priorities. We make space for the things that are important, and we put the less important things on a shelf for another day. It’s wise and commendable that one manages their time wisely, and honestly going out on an adventure is probably not high on anyone’s list of day to day tasks. Unfortunately the things we put on the shelf are forgotten, sometimes even the shelf itself is forgotten.
For me, I have a desire and longing for something new, a little adventure. I am thankful that in this season of life I have an opportunity to pursue this interest of mine a little more than I have in the past. That being said, I do also enjoy an occasional “mini” adventures during the busier times. They give me energy for other less exciting things, and remind me life is not all about collecting the next pay check. Adventure Ordu will highlight some of these “mini-adventures” that you can have while visiting Ordu.
Cotyora is one of the mini-adventures or lesser known points of interest in Ordu. In fact, most people will pass by without even noticing. One of the main reasons is that the location is hidden by the coastal highway, and it is only accessible from traffic leaving Ordu towards Samsun. It is not well marked. Only a little brown sign pointing down a steep brick road towards the sea points the way. After about a 100 meters, there is a parking lot and a small trail leading to the ruins.
Cotyora is one of the original names for the province of Ordu, and the archaeological site was given the name. However, locals also know the site as Bozukkale or broken tower. That is exactly what you will find. A broken tower with only a section of the stone wall remaining. The stone wall is said to be from around the 11th century during Byzantine reign. Other than the ruins there is a small lighthouse and some beautiful rock outcroppings. It is a peaceful location and I provides some great views of the coastline and the city.
Those looking for something a little different with a little history and some beautiful scenery it’s worth stopping by.
The City of Ordu is surround by mountains. Locals and tourists can take advantage of any number of them to take beautiful views of the city and the Black Sea. On the top of one of these mountains rests the 2300 year old ruins of an old temple and fortress thought to be part of the Kingdom of Pontus. I first noticed this fortress sitting on top of a rock cliff raising above the Ordu skyline. Later when I learned that there was an archaeological site on top I was determined to check it out.
The fortress is named Kurul Kalesi, or Council Fortress, and it’s located close to the city only about 13 km (8 mi) from the city center. The fortress is actually in the Village of Bayadı although I never did see the village when I visited. Getting to the fortress is another adventure as the route is not very well marked, however there are a couple of signs, and I didn’t get lost. I did think I was lost a couple of times, because the quality of the road was not what I would expect for touristic destination. The last couple of miles were dirt and loose gravel, not so great for motorcycles with road tires. The only real obstacle was the dogs. I think I came across about 5 dogs, all of which wanted to attack me for violating their space. I HATE dogs that chase after me on my motorcycle barking and nipping at my tires. I can only picture them getting stuck under my tires, causing me to crash, and then deciding to finish me off.
I remember what I learned in my motorcycle safety training…Don’t panic and power away, because a motorcycle is way faster than a dog. Well that’s not always true. Not only are these Ordu dogs fast, but they are determined. Seriously I was chased by one of these dogs for over one mile up a hill. It was only after the dog tired out that I won the chase, but not because I certainly was able to power away. I have to admit that I was panicking. On the way back I decided I would try to sneak by the dog by cutting off my motor and maybe he wouldn’t hear me coming. I underestimated how well a dog can hear…and it didn’t work out so well.
After surviving packs of wild dogs, I reached the entrance to the park. The park is surrounded by hazelnut trees and a chicken farm. The entrance of the park is controlled with a fence and a guard house, but nobody was there. Maybe it was because it was a weekday. Once past the gate, which was open, I rode up a steep dirt road towards what I hoped to be a parking area. The road ended at the base of a staircase with no place to park, for a car anyway. Not a problem for me.
It was clear that not very many people come and visit the fortress, at least not recently. The path was a little overgrown, but it had nice lampposts indicating that some effort was made to make it accessible to tourists. I failed to mention something that could hint why there were not many visitors. All around the park were big signs saying, “Do not enter the archeologic dig!” (in Turkish of course). Well, since the gate was open, and there wasn’t anyone to tell me to leave, I interpreted the sign to mean literally do not enter the “dig site” or excavation. It didn’t say don’t enter the property or park. I never saw anyone, so we’ll never know.
The fortress is one of my favourite places I have visited in Ordu so far. The ruins were in great condition considering they are 2,300 years old and exposed to the elements on top of a cliff. I could almost picture how things could have been arranged back then. The ruins consist of some stone walls, which are being unearthed or excavated (note I did not enter the excavation), a cistern carved into the floor of the rock, and a steep escape tunnel as is common with these type of mountaintop fortresses. I was very impressed and wondered why the site was not promoted more.
Equal to the quality of the ruins was the view. It was clear why the site was chosen for a fortress, because I could see for miles in all directions. It would be impossible for an army to sneak up to the fortress without being noticed. The views of the city nestled against the sea and the lush green valleys to the south were spectacular and well worth the adventure. I am thankful for the opportunity to experience both history and nature at the same time.
In Turkey many of the touristic places are often marked with a brown sign. These signs are typically placed along busy highways to get the attention of people passing by. Since people often don’t pay attention to more important signs like speed limits and stop signs it is no wonder that these brown tourism signs are overlooked. However, for those adventure inclined these are little reminders that there is an adventure waiting. And that’s how I stumbled upon this adventure to Kestane Köy Kemer Köprüsü.
Outside the town of Gülyalı, across from the construction of the new Ordu-Giresun Airport, there was the sign putting towards a one lane road. One day when I had the desire for something different, I thought I would take a look at what this little brown sign meant for me to see. I simply turned where the sign suggested and began my adventure.
Kestane Köy Kemer Köprüsü translates as Village of Kestane (chestnut) Arch Bridge. If you read my bio you will know that I am a civil engineer. One of the things that I enjoy looking at are bridges, especially if these bridges are old. I am constantly fascinated on how people were able to construct bridges in remote places and in very difficult terrain without all the fancy design software that is available today. The fact that these bridges are still usable after hundreds of years is a testament to people’s ingenuity. Anyway, after my adventure I looked up some information about the bridge. What I found out is that it was constructed of field cut stone and built between 1890 and 1895. It is definitely not one of the older bridges in Turkey, but still worth seeing.
Now you might be thinking, if someone actually took the time to make a road sign to direct people to something they wanted a tourist to see they would probably make sure that they placed other signs along the way to give directions. Well, if you were thinking that then you would be wrong. I have followed enough “brown signs” in Turkey to know that there is no guarantee that sign is either accurate or that other signs will follow showing the way, even if you come to several forks in the road. I knew that by following the first brown sign, I may not ever actually find the bridge. After passing several turns I began to wonder if I was supposed to turn, but I figured the best bet was to stay on the “paved” road, and I’ll eventually get there. Right?
Here is a good place to make a comment about the roads (I will have other detailed posts about the roads later). In Ordu, there are basically 3 types of road. There is THE asphalt road which is the main highway that runs along the coast, and in some sections of the larger towns. Then there is the other type of paved road. Paved road here means that it is covered with something other than dirt or gravel. Typically this is tar with a layer of crushed stone poured on top, but in villages the roads often composed of laid stone or brick. The “paved” roads connect the larger towns, but to get to many of the villages you have to travel over dirt or gravel roads. I have found many of these to be better suited for animals. But these types of roads are perfect for adventure enthusiasts as you always have to be attentive to your surroundings.
After traveling about 10 km up steep inclines and encountering many switch backs I started to wonder if I perhaps made a wrong turn. Another thought came to me. Bridges are typically over water, and I am on top of a mountain ridge probably more than 1000 feet above the valley. There is no way that there is a bridge up here. I need to be at the bottom of the valley, not the top. Never the less I kept going, because I allowed myself to be fooled into thinking that there would have been another sign. After another 15 minutes the paved road became dirt, and I was forced to make a decision. Continue or give up.
Well, I am embarrassed to say I retreated from the adventure. I decided to turn back and look for a sign, either a sign to the bridge or a sign leading to the village. As I retraced my route I stopped at each intersect and looked for a sign hidden in the bushes, but I found nothing. When I reached the coastal highway, I again found the “brown sign” pointing back from where I had come. I was defeated and I did not have the energy to try again. I felt like there was someone watching from the bushes somewhere laughing and giggling to themselves, ”hahaha we fooled another one”.
A couple weeks later, I passed the sign again and it reminded me my failure to find the illusive bridge. I became even more determined to find the bridge, but I couldn’t help to wonder if it was even going to be worth seeing. Besides it’s only 120 years old. At my next opportunity, I decided to try my luck again. This time though I would use my secret weapon, Google Maps.
I am usually very good at navigating. I only need to look at a map once, and I can remember the route without looking back or using GPS. I typed the location into google maps, and nothing came up. I guess it’s not important enough to be included in their database. My last try was to just google the name of the village. I found the village and google once again easily computed the quickest and easiest route to my destination. Of course it was down the road I travel a couple weeks earlier, but I discovered that there was a turn that I had missed the first time. This time I was prepared, and I knew where I was going. As I passed the brown sign I said to myself, “this time I win.”
This time I rode with confidence the same road I traversed last time. I was able to travel faster this time because I remembered the turns and the rough sections. As I neared the area where I thought the turnoff was I slowed and looked carefully at my surroundings. Once again I noticed that I was on the top of a mountain ridge with steep cliffs on both sides of the road. I wondered what type of road would lead me down to the valley floor. From the map I knew that the turn would be next to a mosque, so I was confident that I would not miss the turn. Sure enough I came to an empty mosque in the middle of the country side. I stopped and looked around, but I didn’t see a road. I turned off my bike and walked around the mosque to see if there was something hidden behind the building, and that’s when I found it. The road I missed before. As I looked down the road, my head dropped and my excitement turned to disappointment. The road was steep and it was not paved.
I love my motorcycle, but it is not designed for off-road. The truth is that it can go “off-road”, but I am a novice when it comes to riding a motorcycle on this type of terrain. Again I was forced to make a decision…give up and face the laughing man behind the brown sign or give it a try and take the dirt road. I decided to give it a try. Besides it is a road, even if it is steep and dirt. And there were tire tracks at least someone else tried before me.
The road was steep and parts of the road were rocky. The good news was that the road was all downhill, because I was not sure that I would have the traction needed to go up. I bounced along slowly down the hill. Thankfully I remembered reading that on these types of roads it is better to use mostly the rear brake. If I used the front brake, the front tire will slide and I will lose steering and my balance. That advice was perfect as I was able to remain in control even as the rear tire locked and slid in steep areas. Descending the slope I felt my confidence slowly overcoming my fear, and I started to enjoy myself. Occasionally I allowed myself to stop and look back at what I had accomplished and to look over the incredible scenery. It didn’t take long (though it felt like forever), before I reached the bottom of the hill. To my delight the road became paved again. In the distance I could see a white minaret of a mosque and I knew that must be the village ahead.
Then I passed a very old lady carrying the equivalent of a tree’s worth of branches up hill, and I noticed her surprise to encounter a vehicle on the road. After just coming down the steep dirt road to the village I knew not very many cars travelled this way. I couldn’t help feel sorry for her, because she probably was going to carry those branches up to the top of the hill. I knew that I could not help her either. I could only say a prayer that locals say when the encounter such things, “kolay gelsin” (may your work go easy for you). As soon as I spoke my prayer I found the bridge.
To be honest the bridge was a disappointment. Yes, it was old and arched but it didn’t have the charm that I expected. I parked my bike, and walked around taking a few pictures. Next to the bridge was an old değirmen, or mill. This mill actually looked like it could still be functioning. I could hear the water of the stream turning a wheel inside the house. I actually enjoyed the mill more than the bridge.
I rested of about 20 minutes, then I decided to figure out how I was going to get back. I guessed it would be too difficult to come back the way I came. So I went up the road to the village to ask about a different way to get back. Once I got to the village I found several cars. Not just any cars but nice cars. I knew there was no way that these cars could have come the same way I did. Sure enough when I asked how to get back, he said the best way was to go through Giresun.
The return trip through Giresun was much easier. To my surprise the road was nicely paved the entire way to the coastal highway. Once I got back to the highway I couldn’t help to notice that there was no little brown sign pointing towards the old bridge along the easy route. There was only the original one down the highway pointing towards the harder and less travelled route. Instead of being frustrated, I was thankful for the opportunity for a little extra adventure.