With each story I’ve read wandering, I found myself fascinated. Those whismical places, full of daring secrets which I would known with my steps trembling – a golden apple orchard, that home of good and mischievious fairies hidden in deep, dense dark forests, those ol’ forgotten castles and most of all, the dungeon of a Romanian dragon (rom. “zmeu”). Not to mention the homes of the “Zmei”*: who decorates their home, do they have a feng-shui corner and a hanger where their broadsword is really spinning on its own? And what’s with that broadsword magically put itself in its hanger? Is there a spell or something? Is an invisible force? They’re just childish curiosities, but don’t tell me you didn’t ask yourself. Don’t tell me you didn’t wonder where does all this inspiration come from, their meaning or if there are some real places that gave the teller some inside notes for these ones! Or maybe you dreamt about you sleeping on floating shores way high in the sky, full of green little worlds captive inside… I surely did. Well, some of these magic places do exist, literally, far from being just wisely coined in some tale teller mind. These are no sci-fi landscapes, no apocaliptic scenarios an no fairytale worlds. The following places strike us directly from nature. Nature is magic and magic is real!
(fantastic creature of Romanian folklore and Romanian mythology – wikipedia)
Socotra Island, Yemen
If you have an adventurous spirit within you and you’re interested in SF, this land is sprinkled with light, it’s an arid land and the trees are shaped as mushrooms. You could have the impression that there are some weird animals living in their canopy. The fact is this place is one of the few virgin places, unpopulated, situated afar in the Arabian Sea. It was familiar to the Egyptians, discovered by Marco Polo and it looks unchanged, sheltering about 80.000 natives. There are caves, weird vegetation and the extraterrestrial shapes of the plants and trees from which 33% of the species are gathered only here. This makes you wonder on what planet are you. The trees shaped like mushrooms, this being the specific of the area, are the symbols of the place and they’re called “The dragon blood tree”. You’re feeling tiny under their shadow. Makes you wonder what planet did you land on, exactly.
Gateway to Hell, Turkmenistan
No, it’s not a rock song title, nor some cynical hint for stairway to heaven – although it does sound great. It’s just a large, breathtaking hole in the middle of Karakum desert, which could hurt your eyes with such fire and light. If you’re a LOTR fan, you’ll surely love this place – where would you find a real gateway to Mordor? In fact, Gateway to Hell is just an good ol’ crater accidentally left there by geologists for the sake of our visual pleasure. The fire inside burns due to oil deposits. Brave yourselves, hell is real! No, really, this “hell” unleashed itself when something went bad while extracting natural resources. Yup, don’t f**k with nature.
Hobbiton, New Zealand
Moving on to something more flower power. Speaking of LOTR, if you’re favorite character is the hobbit, here you can have a visual delight. Matamata is a teeny tiny town, as depicted in the trilogy. The good thing is, just like in Lord of the rings, the tiny homes, the tunnels and all the built places for the movie are so picturesque and well adapted to nature, that the whole city looks straight from a fairy tale. Sadly there are no hobbit that could answer behind the tiny doors.
That psychedelic river or Cano Crystales
Opulent colors melting and dancing at an universal pace like some of you see when tripping, there must be some life threatening corporate thing, isn’t it?
Only in the Colombian jungles, where hallucination is mixing with reality.The thing is that the fluorescent shades of the river appears only for a short period of time, somewhere between the dry and rainy seasons, but then you ask yourself if you’ve been having too many psychedelic drugs in your life and now they’re messing with you. Well, pinch yourself, everything is real, you can stop yourself from drinking liters of water. Now, the explanation is simple and it’s due to the algae form the bottom of the ocean and it only appears here, in this combination of colors. It’s a fairy underwater land. The locals call it “the river that flowed from paradise”.
Igloo village, Finland
A winter sports rebel? An extreme weather lover? Here, the scenery offers you peace and that feeling that you have when you sleep under the lights of the North. There you are surrounded by trees dressed up with coats of ice and snow that can be similar to some big underwater monsters. A northern kraken from “The clash of the Titans” or “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”.
Neuschwanstein castle, or the true Cinderella Castle
I doubt that there are girls that aren’t fascinated by the thought of dancing a waltz in Cinderella’s castle. Germany has a place for those who want to sneak into a castle similar to one of Disney’s cartoons. It’s ridiculously similar to the ones from the fairytales, the castle specific of the XIX it is full of style – too much maybe- and the scenery is white and syrupy. It is white because of the white top of the mountains, trees covered with snow and abrupt cliffs that protect the castle walls. A fair for real, built by Ludwig II of Bavaria, that had probably went to a sweet soft faze of his life. It seems like he spent some time dreaming with his eyes open, seeing himself as a king from traditional fairytales. Although the palace was meant to be a refuge, it was opened for the public eye after Ludwig’s death in 1886. Happily, our real character wasn’t so idealistic as it seemed. He built modern toilets, cold and hot showers and a heating system. The mystery that haunts is Ludwig’s death.
Temple’s Cave, Borneo
Borneo per se is a magical place. There you can find the biggest moth and huge caves, tall and covered with vegetation. One of them is called “Batu Cave” and it goes right in the center of the mountain. There sits a mysterious temple of a Hindu origin that reminds of adventure movies like Indiana Jones’s. I don’t know if you can find lost treasures, tips full of wisdom or risky secrets, but the place is complete.
Majlis Al Jinn or the Wonder Cave
Those 1001 nights stories, with Sheherezade, Aladdin and other oriental characters have something in common, besides a specific wisdom: the cave. Second largest in the world, Majlis Al Jinn can be entered from above, through an orifice. This means you have to have the courage of a ninja to get in there, on a rope, 150 m below, and even if it’s deserted, the adrenaline and astounding view worth it.