From Adana the ride is spectacular. Flanking towering snow capped mountains near Karaisali and winding through a canyon with dramatic houses built on the steppes of the mountains near Nigde, I was in heaven as I made my way to Nevsehir. Worried that I might not be able to get to Goerme before nightfall, I wondered if I could get to Nevsehir and then find lodging. Without any detail on my new maps nor sufficient data on GPS, it looked like a good plan.
But after the dramatic ride and dropping temperatures, I pulled into a gas station next to a bus stop in Nevsehir where a local insisted I could be in the center of Kapadokya in Goerme in about thirty minutes. Looking across the road and onto gentle rolling hills I spotted this gnome-like cone shaped structures that seemed to rise from the earthen soil. “People live in those,” my new friend admitted. “But there are so many more in Goerme.” That settled me. I went for it.
I’ve seen pictures and I’ve often wondered if Lewis Carroll was inspired by these bizarre formations in the center of Turkey to create some of the ethereal landscapes that make up Alice in Wonderland. While looking somewhat familiar, yet they were extremely odd to me. Like bizarre chimneys from a Gaudy building or lopsided hats that Mickey might reject in the Sorcerer’s apprentice, these large scale anomalies dominate the landscape in the area around Goerme.
I find it difficult to explain my experience in Kapadokya (Cappadocia) as the region wreaks of cultural, historical and geological significance. Gazing out into a moonscape vista of oddly shaped formations jutting from the earth begs me to ponder and wonder — and of course, to wander.
The people that holed themselves up hear over the millennia read like a whose who of who conquered Europe and the Middle East as well as from the dawn of civilization. The people of Kapadokya are mentioned in the bible. While I’m not going to bore you with my newfound knowledge of the history of the area, so safe to fast forward to the Persian Empire who likely donned a derivation of the name Kapadokya to the people settled here. Alexander the Great was successful in banishing the Persians from this part of what is now Turkey, but he met more resistance from the Kapadokyans.
Fast forward again we find the Kapadokyans to be recluse Christians building churches hewn out of the rock of the region. The “fairy chimneys” that best describe the conical shaped formations that somehow have been hollowed out and provided shelter for the inhabitants of the region, are actually made of thick volcanic ash with a heavy or strong basalt “coating” which provides protection from erosion. Over time layers of rock and ash are washed away but the basalt “finish” somehow helped to retain the shape of the original ash formations – but hardened.
But that gets into too much science and geology. Just look at these things. I stayed in a small inn where several of the rooms were inside the cone fairy chimneys. With no heat and the only windows barely fitted with glass to stave off the elements fitted into irregular shaped openings carved by peoples long passed, each room is fitted with comfy beds and layers of blankets. Because at six to seven thousand feet in elevation on the slopes of Mount Kahveci it can get cold at night. Other rooms, more expensive and plush but not in the chimney feature heating, fireplaces and other amenities. This region of Turkey is perhaps the most popular tourist destination. But it’s easy to get away from the crowds and tour busses. And that’s just what I did.
I wandered to Avanos and to Urgup and through the valley and parks of the area. Sure, I had to content with some tourism. But words truly can’t describe this bizarre, interesting and UNESCO World Heritage site. Once again, I’ll try to let my photos tell the story. I spent several days here and met a number of interesting people, including Pat, a cheerful brit who recently visited Iran as he’s trying throughout his recent lifetime to “bag” as many. With so many good things said about Iran, I’m bummed the prospect of a visa for me diminishes by the minute.
But not to dwell. I’m enjoying the wild surroundings of Kapadokya. Think not of what I don’t or can’t have; rather think of what I have. And surrounding me here in Goerme is a dream. A lifelong dream. I’m in Asia. And I’m in Turkey.
Downtown Goerme, Turkey.
This (L) was my hotel room for a few nights in Kapadokya / Cappadocia.
Yes. The tourist come in droves with their cameras drawn and ready to shoot.
The Turasan Winery In Kapadokya / Cappadocia.
This winery left a bad taste in my mouth — and it wasn’t the wine — it was the staff. They obviously are designed to service mass tourism with busses who drop by on a regular schedule. The wine is mass produced, save a few reserve bottlings, and the staff isn’t knowledgeable nor do they like to talk about the wine. They throw a tiny taste in a bad glass in front of you and then want to know what you’re going to buy.