Saray Restaurant, means Palace Restaurant in Turkish, sit in the corner of Göreme’s main road and the small road leading to Göreme Cave Palace, where we stay. Despite the cold winter and snow, I sit outside eating my Kebab while waiting for my Turkish Coffee to cool off a bit. From where I sit, it is easy to observe the main street of Göreme. Stores, restaurants, and supermarkets lined up along the road, with bright light as the day drew to a close. What is missing is the tourist, the visitors to patron the road. Göreme, just like all other place in Turkey, is facing the a harsh tourist winter, as harsh as the weather in this time of year.
“The snow will usually come in 2 weeks time”, Jay, the owner of Göreme Palace Cave Hotel told us during breakfast. Just few hours after noon, however, the snow fall. It come early this year, to our delight, because it will be first snow experience for us.
The tourist winter, however, come as depressing reality not only for Göreme’s tourism industry, It is really sad to see shops and restaurant, well prepared, but devoid of tourist. Just like Saray Restaurant, there are only 2 tables filled from about 15 or so. Blame it to the bombing in Turkey, 3 of it was in Istanbul in 2016, and finally the failed coup attempt in July. All of it has spread fears to those who want to visit Turkey for holiday.
The snow fall grew in intensity that night, and the temperature has drop well below zero. With no proper winter coat, we took out some food stock and hide in the warmth of Göreme Palace Cave Hotel’s restaurant. The big window of the restaurant shield us from the cold, but provided a spectacular view of the snowy Göreme City under the Super Moon.
“It is all politics”, Jay said when we discussed about the recent events in Turkey. “And especially the foreign government who don’t like Turkey’s fast economy growth”.
“Yeah, it is always like that. So, back in Indonesia, during Bali bombing 2002, it was the local who eventually save Bali’s tourism industry. Do you still have many locals coming to Göreme?” I asked, reflecting on our own experience.
“Not really. We don’t really like the locals. They are noisy and asked too much”, he said.
“Well, I hope the tourism industry will recover soon”, I said. We drink in agreement and call it a night.
The next morning, I woke up early as usual. The snow fall has stopped, leaving white snows blanketing the whole city. I sipped my hot coffee at the balcony that getting cold very fast. In the distance, few flash of light are visible. It is the hot air balloon pilot inflating their balloon.
Few minutes later, those balloons are airborne. They decorated the morning Göreme sky with their colors, red, green, light blue, dark blue, and many more. They are beautiful. And somehow, I have a warm feeling that, as long as the Hot Air Balloon airborne, the Göreme will be just fine