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Published: February 12th 2020
Another new year, another ski trip, that's just how it has commenced each new year seemingly since time immemorial. So, when a variety of skiable nations have already been visited, it is time for Turkey to step forward and try and prove to the masses just how much this nation, normally associated with resort holidays, measures up on the ski destination scale. Before we get to those details, however, it is worth noting that on this occasion, the accommodation was not right at the ski resort itself, but instead at the nearby industrialized Turkish city of Kayseri, a sizeable city with a fair few traces of development to place it within a category of cities possessing roughly one of everything. Staying at the city's prime property, the Radisson Blu hotel constituted a lap of luxury approach to city stays and the all mod cons features and amenities of the hotel made this an undeniable treat on the hotel stays comparison sheet. Immediately next door is the imposing Forum Kayseri shopping plaza, replete with extensive food court, shops a-plenty, which makes a great companion piece to nearby equally well-equipped Kayseri Park, the other of the city's 2 major shopping malls. This being
Turkey, however, you're more than likely going to want a more authentic shopping experience, which is precisely where the covered bazaar and nearby shopping arcade step in, just to prove that the glitz and sheen of the more westernized malls are really just a front when it comes to the kind of retail market which you would traditionally associate with the nation. Throw into the equation the existence of yet another underground shopping plaza, a few high street and department stores, and you've got a growing scene of trade and commerce which conveniently puts Kayseri's extremely central location within Turkey into further perspective, with trade routes spanning either west to east, north to south and vice versa clearly impacting upon the economic growth of Kayseri, a city hardly famed for its tourist influx. Sightseeing here is relatively limited, but is certainly not without its charms and draw cards, and the city's main showpiece is Kayseri castle, a centrally-located gem which also houses the city's main museum, showcasing artefacts of Anatolian identity emanating from various points in time throughout history. The main bulk of other buildings of note within the confines of Kayseri are mosques of various sizes and levels of
prominence, coupled with the occasional city fountain, park and monument or two paying homage to local heroes of yesteryear. The dining scene is above par for a city with such a low-key identity, and one benefit to the lack of a tourist layer coating the city is the fact that local prices apply here, making it a value for money destination, all things considered. Onto the ski terrain, and the main hub of activity happens to be centered around Mount Erciyes, roughly a 25 minute bus ride south, and a resort sufficiently equipped with the right amount of features which could ensure that it slots into the category of a ski resort with local appeal, national interest, and in the minority of cases, an international clientele, which on this occasion entailed myself and a few Russian tourists keen to experience the delights of a full-fledged Turkish ski resort. Although the terrain is far from being vast and extensive, and indeed further work could be done when it comes to marking out the boundaries for designated ski routes, the overall experience is something which I would class as pretty unique and pioneering, since the resort itself will no doubt remain unknown
to the majority of the remainder of the planet, enabling those who experience it to feel like they have made some form of personal discovery. Moving on from Kayseri, Mount Erciyes ski resort and anything which the week-long experience had amounted to, the final item on the agenda was a day-long visit to Cappadocia, Turkey's main tourist draw card, which is usually divided into two options, a red tour and a green tour, which represent northern and southern Cappadocia respectively. The chief town where tourists would base themselves for a tour of Cappadocia is Goreme, which appears to have enough of an infrastructure to cater for tourists from a wide variety of backgrounds, if the local dining scene is anything to go by. The most instantly recognizable image of Cappadocia is the rock formation dubbed the 'fairy chimney', a term coined by a visiting Frenchman some years ago, which seems to have remained part of Cappadocia's phrasebook. The very rock formations which constitute the landscape, whether they are caves, mountains or eroded remnants attribute the entire area a lunar landscape feel and an other-worldly identity which is evident enough from the viewing spot 'affectionately' known as Love Valley. A variety of tourist activities can be enjoyed from this area, most prominently hot air ballooning, where an aerial view adds to the overall effect in no small measure, the VIP package no doubt including champagne breakfast and a certificate of achievement. This was central Anatolia, and a voyage to the very centre of a nation which has weathered a few storms along its route to fame, and for a nation more readily associated with resort holidays along the coast, this trip provided a satisfying snapshot of cultural life in a rewarding and affordable way.
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