The first leg of our mini tour of Turkey in Göreme was coming to an end. We’d floated over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon, explored the depths of Derinkuyu underground city, visited the Open Air Museum and slept in a fairy chimney in a wonderful boutique cave hotel. We had one day left before leaving for Pamukkale and we wanted to get out into the countryside and see some of those towering fairy chimneys – up close.
The valleys and volcanic rock formations around Göreme make for some interesting hiking. Hassan from the hotel gave us directions to the nearest fairy chimneys in Love Valley on the road to Avanos – about a 20 minute walk. We set off with a sense of adventure and plenty water.
Nazar Boncuğu – A Tree with Eyes…
Out of town on the Cavusin road we passed a lone Aussie bar which had a tree laden with nazar boncuğu or evil eye talismans – blue glass against a cobalt sky. In Turkey, and Greece, the Evil Eye has a deep cultural symbolism and the talisman is fixed to anything perceived to attract greed, envy, or ill-will to ward off the evil eye. We noticed the nazars all over Turkey; secreted over doorways, nailed to the masts of boats, embedded into thresholds and displayed in shops, bars and restaurants, there was even one on our hotel key fob. The tree dripped with glinting glass eyes which looked like small shiny fruits ripe for the picking – at a small cost of 1TL.
We carried on through the shimmering heat and turned right at the ‘Tourist Hotel’ as directed by Hassan and followed a dusty track, the chimneys towering in the distance. On rounding a capacious bush we came face to face with a pop-up café, Turkish style, which an elderly couple had set up, selling cay (Turkish tea), coffee and souvenirs – more Nazars winked at us in the sun.
The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia
The chimneys were calling, looming larger than they looked from the road and casting long cooling shadows across the pale volcanic rock. As we got closer we were faced with steep mounds which we clambered up on all fours to reach through to an inner set of chimneys. The stacks were so much taller than we expected, reaching skyward with thick lines of horizontal strata and erosion. Some were grey and wide, others were taller and skinny the colour of sandstone and on a distinct lean. The picture of me sheltering from the sun in the shadow of a chimney will give you an idea of the heights involved.
There were caves in some of the structures but they were high up and we resisted the temptation to rock climb – after all once you get up there you’ve gotta get down again! As we stopped for a breather and to take some photos we discovered that the chimneys weren’t the only pointy things around – a nasty little wasp decided to embed its sting in my Mr’s foot – and by the language spouted I’m guessing it hurt. I squished the culprit before it got me too and I’m glad I did – that wasp sting was to have lasting repercussions but more about that in a future Bodrum post. We’d had two chances to buy a talisman and hadn’t – there might just be something in this evil eye protection!
The views to Rose Valley opposite were magnificent and although we’d planned to go back the way we came, via ramshackle café for some refreshment, we couldn’t help but climb higher and higher to the top of Görkündere Ridge, which overlooks the valley. It took about half an hour but when we finally made it we could see over the chimneys and far across to the amazing panorama beyond.
It soon became clear that Göreme was on the other side of the ridge so we decided to push on and try to find a shortcut back. As we walked we realised that the ridge led to the ‘lookout point’. We’d watched one evening from the hotel bar as a crowd of people gathered perilously close to the edge to photograph the russet red sunset over Rose Valley. As we stood looking down over the town the sound of the muezzin’s echoing call to prayer wafted up to us – one of those moments when you just have to stop and quietly soak it all up.
We wandered back down the other side of the ridge and through the town before heading back to The Kelebek. We’d had an amazing few days in Goreme and would have loved to have stayed longer but we had a schedule and needed to be at the Otogar by 7.30 that evening for the next stage of our Turkey Tour and the night bus to Pamukkale.