In Central Anatolia there’s an area that alternates between hillsides that mimic bunched ribbon, at once both smooth and rippled, and plains where seemingly randomly placed rock columns violently dot the landscape. It’s a hiker’s wet dream. In actuality both formations were created by previous volcanic activity and make for a spectacular scene. The rock columns look like giant phallus symbols or fairy chimneys, depending who you ask (and I guess depending on the audience).
For the purposes of this blog, I’ll refer to them as fairy chimneys henceforth. And I guess it is a pretty accurate description, since coming here to Cappadocia made me feel like I had entered a fantasy world. Because the formations were created from tuff, softer volcanic rock– the hillsides, fairy chimneys and the ground itself has been carved out by previous civilizations leaving a world of possibilities imagined and imaginations actualized.
We arrived into Goreme, the most central town in Cappadocia expecting to find a “normal” hostel to lay our bags and then go exploring our new surroundings. We checked 5 or 6 which all offered dorm accommodations for relatively more expensive housing then we were hoping for. So we kept looking and were offered a cave to stay in, but Mari exercised her executive veto power. The move was a good one though, because we ended up being offered our very own fairy chimney as lodging because of it! As Mari entered the fairy chimney, ducking at the door, I thought about how small fairies must have been in the past. Not enough hormones in the food supply. Our ceiling in the chimney was almost 6 ft. in height, which gave us the illusion of being giant—like that room at the Exploratorium where you get bigger as you walk further in. We settled in, made our obligatory Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum jokes and went for a walk.
Over the next 3 days our walks took us through the Rose Valley, the church of John the Baptist, numerous fairy chimneys and an underground city which was populated by upwards of 10,000 people. Throughout the sights one of us would usually proclaim that they felt like they were on a movie set. I pictured a movie with Christopher Walken for some reason.
I should actually make a correction. The fairy chimney was not our own. We had a fairy chimney buddy that stayed on the floor below us whom we had met previously in Fethiye. Mari and I complement each other pretty well as travel partners, but because our companionship is constant and encompassing, an interesting new travel friend acts like a snap of the finger to a driver crossing down the long straight part of I-5.
It was great to be able to hear another perspective on what we were seeing-another voice to supplement our knowledge base on the area. We all shared meals, conversations, hikes and somewhere around our 2nd bottle of shared wine, I realized our fairy chimney buddy felt more like an old friend.
The next day we went our own ways, she back to Ankara and us off to Istanbul. We all were glad we came here if not a little overwhelmed by the uniqueness of the landscape. I think too, at least for Mari and myself, that the land of the fairy chimneys was made better because of our buddy on the floor below.