Written May 6, 2012
The trip by plane from Turkey’s southern coast to Cappadocia, near the center of the country, is much longer than it needs to be. Nearly all flights on Turkish Airlines pass through Istanbul, making what should be a short hour hop from Antalya more than a five hours journey, two hour-plus-long flights with a two hour layover in Istanbul in between. Now add a canceled flight from Istanbul to Kayseri (one of the Cappadocia airports) increasing the layover to four and half hours and making it a full-day excursion to get here, but it is well worth the effort.
Leaving the Kayseri airport one wonders why you would come to this part of Turkey, a desolate place of dry rolling hills interspersed with the occasional forgotten crumbly town. It’s only as you approach the national park that surrounds Goreme that the magical landscape of Cappadocia begins to appear.
Truly a surreal region of valleys of carved stone sculptures created by the eroding effects of the wind and rain on deep layers of volcanic ash.
Early Christians escaping persecution carved homes and churches in the soft stone of these phallic looking pillars creating fairy like villages.
Nowadays tourists can experience living in a cave in one of the many converted hotels.
These are generally upgraded accommodations offering suites and spa facilities. Our room at Kelebek Hotel and Cave Pension is a two room suite with a stone sitting area and a cave bedroom decorated in a traditional rustic style.
For Dinner we went to Seten (located at Sultan Cave Suites, sister hotel to the Kelebek) considered the best restaurant in Goreme offering traditional Anatolian food in elegant rustic setting. The dining room is thoughtfully decorated with refined Turkish furnishings against of backdrop of carved stone and worn wood. Started with the mixed meze of the usual cold dips and salads – garlic yogurt, spicy tomato and pepper, eggplant, etc. All the delightful Turkish flavors that have been missing at some of the more touristy restaurants.
The lamb kebabs with eggplant were equally flavorful, and although the eggplant melted on the tongue some of the lamb morsels were chewier than they should be.
The chicken kebab, prepared the same way as the lamb, was moist and tender. All and all one of the better dining experiences of the trip.