The flight from Istanbul to Kars swings over the Black Sea in a long arc, finally descending below the clouds near the icy mountains north of Erzurum. When I peered out the airplane window, the terrain was completely frozen, except for where a few rocky ridges emerged through the snow. Glimpsing the snow blanketing the landscape was a shock, even though I knew I was bound for the coldest part of Turkey. Until I saw this, I always thought the characterisation of Kars as a remote border city was a bit of an exaggeration. However, looking around from the tarmac and seeing nothing but wisps of ice blowing across the plain to herald our arrival, I began to think I might have been wrong.