A Freeway Leading to Fairy Chimneys

Turkish drivers, whether at the helm of a tractor or a semi, follow their own set of rules, from driving mock 10 on city streets to obliviously drifting into neighboring lanes and, my favorite, blowing through stop signs.

Driving in Turkey is exhilarating for a Western driver, and slightly terrifying for any accompanying passengers (that would be me). Oh, and when you spot a police car on the shoulder, (for the first time I was actually happy to see one), and assume some type of order will be restored to this Turkish Autobahn, you discover there is no one actually in the police car after all. Ah well, I guess it’s time to resume a 100-mile-per-hour pace. Gotta keep up with traffic, right?

Needles to say, the nine-hour drive from the azure shores of Antalya to the ancient region of Cappadocia, located in central Turkey, was a long and arduous one. When we arrived in our rental car, which I donned Nefeeste–the Turkish word meaning delicious, and really one of the only Turkish words we could properly pronounce, the glow of the moon had begun to descend on an outcropping of fairy chimneys, relics from an ancient land.

Before beginning our search for a cave hotel, which Cappadocia has no shortage of, Nefeeste trudged up a dusty dirt road so we could investigate one of these geological oddities. Through a shrunken arched doorway, we entered a fairy chimney. Once inside, the frigid air nipped at my skin and even with headlamps, the dark corridors were swirling with an eerie energy. Exiting through a tiny backdoor, I exhaled a sigh of relief when I was once again under a smattering of stars in the night sky. We shined our headlamps on some of the neighboring chimneys and looked out onto a sea of caves before returning to Nefeeste.

Although neither of us wanted to admit it, for some reason we were both a little spooked. And to think, we had actually discussed poaching one of the fairy chimneys as a campsite for the night.

Formed by ancient volcanic eruptions, the geological formations in Cappadocia, known today as fairy chimneys, were used as places of shelter and worship by the ancient Greeks during 300 to 1200 AD.

Out of these phallic pillars–which took shape from years of wind erosion–homes, churches, and monasteries were carved. Today, the insides of these natural wonders remain remarkably in tact. From vibrant ceiling frescoes and sturdy altars in former churches to various sized windows, archways, stairs and shelves in the places where people once stored their possessions, broke bread and slept.

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