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Turkey, April 2006

Turkey, April 2006 |

I arrived in Istanbul on 23 April 2006 with dozens of other Kiwis and Aussies. Istanbul is an impressive city – much more civilised and built up than I had expected (especially after my recent Cairo experience). A strong Turkish patriotism showed from the hundreds of Turkish flags that adorned almost every building in sight.

The first night consisted of a welcome dinner and the typical meet and greets. It was a relatively quiet night with the ANZAC eve all-nighter looming the following night.

Before heading to Gallipoli in the afternoon (a 5 hour trip) we spent the morning cruising the Bosporus and visiting the Hippodrome and Blue Mosque.

ANZAC cove was already starting to fill when we arrived late in the afternoon. Australian and New Zealand flags, t-shirts, hats, and rugby jerseys clearly displaying which side of the Tasman loyalties lay.

Throughout the night we were entertained with an ANZAC army/navy band, speeches, and documentaries and short films telling of heroism and sacrifice. ANZAC cove continued to fill throughout the night and at 2am with reports of a line of buses over 3km long and the imminent arrival of 1500 people, our lying space became sitting room only.

The sombre Gallipoli dawn service was held at 5:30, after which we began the ascent to the ANZAC memorials at Lone Pine (Australia) and Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) – a 4km walk passing numerous Commonwealth graves and the trenches that were the front line 91 years earlier.

After waiting our turn in the seemingly endless procession of busses we made our way to Ayvalik for the night. En route the busses filled with beers, some shops being sold dry. Despite a distinct lack of sleep, the tour adopted a more festive atmosphere that continued late into the night.

In the morning we briefly visited the seaside town of Ayvalic and proceeded to Troy for a lesson in ancient ruins and mythology. On our way back to Istanbul we returned to a crowd free ANZAC cove for a closer inspection of the infamous beaches and terrain.

Our final night in Istanbul began with drinks in the hotel lobby and ended with clubbing in central Istanbul until the painfully early hours of the morning.

Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar were our final destinations. A stark contrast could be drawn from the rich display of diamonds, emeralds and religious artefacts in the Palace and the imitation and hustle of the Bazaar.

Overall it was a great trip seeing new sights, meeting new friends, and experiencing the Gallipoli dawn service, an experience I am proud and grateful to have been part of.

Locations Visited: London, Istanbul, Gallipoli, Ayvalik, Canakkale, Istanbul, London

Nice story. Have you been to the princes Islands? It is an hour ride on a ferry from Eminonu and it holds quite an interesting sultan stories...
Posted by: Haim Bener on 12 Jun 2006

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