After a nice morning and afternoon in Hamburg, I flew to Frankfurt, via Lufthansa. This was my first flight on a foreign airline. It was pretty swanky for me to be offered a glass of Riesling or beer and a fancy chocolate snackbar (couldn’t have due to wheat/milk, unfortunately) for a 45-minute flight. We somehow forget to do this in the US.
It was raining quite heavily when I got there for my 5-hour layover, so I decided to hang out in the airport and make the best of it. I was really hungry since I hadn’t eaten anything since around 6am, on the flight. I went out in search of that most Frankfurtian of meals, the frankfurter. Frankfurters aren’t necessarily served on rolls like we have them here in the US. Mine cost about 3,50 Euros (airport price hike, I’m guessing) and looked like this:
A little underwhelming, to say the least. It was, okay…
I was still hungry, and still had, oh, about 4 hours to kill. I went to the international section of the airport for my next flight and had some better choices for dinner. My friend Nick, a German linguistics doctoral candidate, advised me to be on the lookout for apfelwein, which is a specialty of the southern German region (along with Austria and Switzerland). The apfelwein around Frankfurt often contains a plant called service tree (Sorbus domestica) as well. This version is called Speierling. I’m a culinary and plant freak, so I definitely wanted to try it! I found some in a gourmet gift shop that also let me try some other local beverages and sausage, as well as chocolate (they also had cheese). It was pretty good, the flavor was sort of like pear in addition to apple. Apparently it is also called Whitty Pear in English, I guess they thought the same thing.
I also found this grilled salmon with organic lentils, apples, carrots, celery, and sprouts salad for under 5 Euros. Should have had this all along (why don’t we have stuff like this in the US?)
Finally I was off on my flight to Istanbul, to connect with my last flight to Kayseri, in Cappadocia (Kapadokya in Turkish). I’m glad I ate at the airport since the flight food was some mess of potatoes and cheese and cream and pasta. Ick! I arrived around 4am and got a glass of nice, hot tea while I waited for my 6am flight. Tea is kind of the default boredom reliever/social handshake in Turkey, and it’s usually pretty tasty. Examples:
You get somewhere early and are by yourself. Have a glass of tea.
The person you are waiting for gets there. You have a glass of tea.
You finish hanging with that person. Time for more tea before you go, or after they have left.
You go to an office to make a reservation or have some work done. They give you a glass of tea.
You go to the bank. They give you tea.
You go to any store. They give you tea.
You pick up your rental car (can’t wait until we get to that story). LOTS of tea is offered.
Don’t get that awful apple tea that people, especially carpet salesmen, will try to give you. It’s artificial and loaded with chemicals. Just don’t even go there. Say “teşekkürler” and they should remove the offending article (it means thanks, which means in this case to saying NO thanks. If someone offers something to you and you DO want it, say lütfen, or [yes] please).
After a 2 hour flight on Turkish Airlines (after all my TA flights I had the music memorized for their landing sequence. Actually not a bad tune, as opposed to their theme song upon departing, which is horrendous) we landed in Kayseri, one of the main airports in Kapadokya, in central Turkey. In this area, it’s really much less of a hassle to book a shuttle to leave. The airport is an hour away from the closest city you can stay, and there’s limited public transport. I actually didn’t see any bus going to the villages. I had already booked a shuttle beforehand though, because I had only limited time and wanted to make the most of us, didn’t want to take a chance of being stranded.
This is where a little misunderstanding (probably intentional) occurred. I looked at the shuttle drivers and one had my name on it. Great! I hopped on. Another family (from the US, but Korean) hopped on soon after. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. Waited almost an hour for the last guy to get on, a very confused-looking Japanese guy in his early 20s. I was worried about missing the tour that I also booked with this country, which had by far the best rates. I asked the driver while we were waiting if we could either leave, or if they would make sure I didn’t miss the tour. I heard the soon to be dreaded words, “Problem yok!” (no problem). I also asked if I could be dropped off first and he also said no problem. I got on the driver’s good side with my ipod full of random Turkish pop and Anatolian music, and the Korean-American family as well who also hailed from CA. We drove off eventually and I was assured I wouldn’t miss the tour. The scenery on the drive was amazing. Things were going well.
Of course, over an hour later I was dropped off last (I guess the place I was staying was in the next town over and he wanted to go to the other places first). He then wanted money. I told him I had already paid all my reservations online. We almost got into a huge argument (luckily my Turkish was about as bad as his English) and he decided to give up and let his agency deal with it. I got to the hotel, and asked about the tour- the tour company never came to the hotel to pick me up (they offer this service as part of the tour) since they said I missed the shuttle. Um, what? My shuttle guide said he talked to them.
APPARENTLY, the company I did ride with was NOT the one I booked with. I had, however, made an inquiry to see how much it would cost. I guess that was enough for them (although I actually wrote them to say I was NOT taking their shuttle). Very sneaky. Meanwhile the hotel’s host was like, why did you not book with us, we have our own tours, etc, etc. I guess I was a little frustrated and didn’t try to be coy about it. I told him the truth, which was that the tours were more expensive, did not go to all the places I wanted, and the lady I was communicating with was really trying to pressure me, to give me quotes for 2 people instead of one, to add on tours that I did not want, etc. He was very apologetic and knew the best thing for me- free breakfast and letting me into my room early, where I took a nap and calmed the F down. I felt bad though, I was not too obnoxious, but I did really want to make sure I got to see the things I flew several thousand miles for, and hoped I didn’t seem like another ignorant and insensitive tourist.
The breakfast was ridiculous, even if I couldn’t eat many of the breads and boreks that were offered. I took the host’s advice to try the local grape molasses with tahini. It was good on everything! A traditional Turkish breakfast consists of lots of bread-type things (bread, flat breads, crepe-like things, and pastries), cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and fruit (dried and fresh), dairy products including cheese, yogurt, and ayran (yogurty-drink thing) in addition to eggs and even sausage at some places. It’s quite massive and this picture is only part of what was offered.
This is just half of the spread.
The real therapy for me was one of the “house” cats, who liked to play up to all the tourists. She was a smart little thing and actually knew how to jump up and open doors! I guess she knew I needed some attention, so she followed me down to my room after breakfast and curled up on the bed next to me, while we both took a nap.