My parents recently visited for three weeks. They stayed in a hotel at the beach here in Konyaalti which was in walking distance (for me) from my apartment. We did so much in three weeks that I'm going to need multiple posts. I'll need one just to cover all our meals. But let's start with Kapadokya.
We arrived at the beautiful Elkep Evi hotel at 5:30, tired from the day of travel. Antalya and Kayseri are only an hour apart by direct flight, but alas there are no direct flights until June. So we had to fly to Istanbul, also an hour away, and change there for the one hour flight to Kayseri. When you add up the drive to the airport, the time between flights and the one hour van ride from Kayseri to Urgup you have a full day.
Another view of the hotel.
The rooms at Elkep Evi were all individually furnished with rugs, ceramics, and wall hangings from Kapadokya. They were all built into the surrounding caves, and all had giant balconies equipped with day beds. There were no televisions, but there were CD players we couldn't figure out how to work, and an odd assortment of CDs (including Carmina Burana and Edith Piaf). I took a bath and went to bed early.
We had a delicious lunch of pide (like a very thin crust pizza with ground meat or cheese) at a lovely spot overlooking a river, then drove on to Avanos to see the ceramics. We had a private demonstration, and I was offered the chance to try the potter's wheel myself. The tour continued, after Turkish coffee, to watch the artists at work, one drawing the intricate designs and another painting the multi-colored glaze. Onumlu Ceramics is a family business operating since 1870, and their family design is quite spectacular. Of course, since these hand-made plates and vases take a long time to make, they are very expensive pieces of pottery. When we were told "don't worry about the price, just pick out what you like and we'll make you a good price" I knew we were in trouble. But we now have very beautiful, if expensive, souvenirs of our trip.
After a bit more driving, with stunning views at every turn, we went to the Goreme open air museum. This museum is the remains of a nunnery and monastery (with an underground tunnel between them, of course), including several churches with frescos from the 10th-12th centuries. Christians built their living quarters into the caves so as not to be discovered. One of the churches is translated in English as "Church of the Snake". That seemed odd to me, as I thought the snake was the bad guy in the bible. Turns out the church is so named because of the fresco of St. George slaying the dragon. The Turkish word "yilan" means both snake and dragon, and someone chose the wrong one. I have a feeling a lot of those same kind of mistakes were made translating the bible from ancient to modern languages.
More impressive than Goreme's museum was the view of the town from the vantage point of Uchisar:
Our last stop was a winery where we tasted several local reds. Some were quite good, and gave us an idea of what to look for on future wine lists. After a short rest back at the hotel we went into town for a typical kebap dinner and the wine we'd discovered earlier. Then it was time to try to get some sleep before waking up at 5 AM for the balloon ride!