Gallipoli - a day to honour and remember.
12.05.2013 - 12.05.2013 25 °C
Prior to our visit to Gallipoli we boarded our bus at the hotel in Canakkale this morning at 7.30am and drove to the port. Our bus drove straight on to the ferry (as did numerous other buses) for our short trip across the Dardanelles. Canakkale is a thriving town - with many beautiful hotels - ours was gorgeous. There are thousands of visitors year round to this area - and many of them Turkish people.
I don't think that anything can prepare a person for the emotional impact of a visit to Gallipoli. I'm almost lost for words - this experience has been so overwhelming. At Lone Pine Cemetery we looked for my Great Uncle Albert's headstone. Private Albert Morrow (aged just 18) who was killed on 16th December 1915 - reportedly one of the last Australian soldiers to be killed in action at Gallipoli. We found his name on the Memorial Wall at Lone Pine. This is the only reference number on the internet that we've been able to find for him. So, I'm comfortable that whatever there was for us to find - we found. Treasured photos were taken and a single wild poppy was left behind for my Uncle Albert.
We visited Lone Pine, Chunuck Bair and then finally - Anzac Cove. Red and I walked through some of the trenches at Chunuck Bair, and we walked on the beach at Anzac Cove. This is a beautiful little corner of Turkey - picturesque, peaceful. Yet it is the site where so much Australian, New Zealand and Turkish blood was shed. All those beautiful young boys - gone. Lest we forget.
We are now heading in an easterly direction towards Istanbul - where our Turkish adventure began. The weather today is heaven sent - could not be more beautiful.
We arrived back in Istanbul and our hotel at around 4.30pm, and bid farewell to members of the latest tour group - some interesting individuals in that lot! We had a shower and at 5.30pm met our friends Paul, Fleur, Jacquie and Lesley in the foyer for our last night in Istanbul and Turkey. Although we were all tired from an eventful 17 days travelling around the country, we could not waste this last night.
We caught two taxis up to Taksim Square - which seems to be the Spanish Steps of Istanbul (everybody congregates there) - and were blown away at just how many people were out and about. It turns out that a soccer game was on tonight, and the soccer fans were out in force. Our tour guides refer to them as hooligans - or holligans as they pronounced it. The holligans were dressed in red and yellow and were a lively bunch.
We walked down the main shopping mall in Istanbul. This is such an eyepopping sight. We did some last minute shopping at various little bazaars and in little alleyways - so interesting and exotic.
Then the 6 of us had a really great meal (our Last Supper) in a restaurant smack bang in the middle of all the excitement - beer, wine, starters, main course and Turkish and Apple Tea - for $22 AUD per head (including a generous tip) - just ridiculous. We headed back out in to the main mall and bought Turkish icecreams (the chewy sort) for dessert - from a little stall holder who put on a real performance while he was preparing the icecreams - chiming a bell when he got to a certain part of the icecream preparation - great fun! We were passed by hundreds and hundreds of football holligans (walking enmasse) - singing and chanting their team's anthem to live music. They were lighting coloured flares too, so there was smoke everywhere. As well, in the midst of all of this - the sounds of a Call to Prayer. The locals were out as well just walking along - this was 10.30pm on a Sunday night - unbelieveable scenes. It was all very good natured - the holligans were all happy and singing at the tops of their lungs - and their team lost 2-1. Who knows what it would have been like had they won! We recorded the excitement on our phones and cameras - an unforgettable experience!
We headed back up to Taksim Square which is where all the soccer fans had congregated. It got a bit dodgy at this point - a bit scary, but this is where we got in to taxis and headed back to our hotel. What an action packed final night in Turkey!
I want to finish today's entry with a message written to the first Australian, New Zealand and English party to return to Gallipoli after WW1 - by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk - in 1934 :
"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives,
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
To us there is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets
Where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries,
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives in this land
They have become our sons as well."