14.04.2017 - 17.04.2017 21 °C
"Lest we forget"
We left our apartment early on Good Friday excited about our decision to travel to Istanbul and spend more of our remaining time in Turkey.
The metro and bus took us easily to Budapest Airport in plenty of time for our two hour flight to Sabiha Gokcen International Airport on the Asian side of Istanbul.
On arriving we quickly found the bus that takes you into the heart of Istanbul. For around $6 this bus takes you directly to Taksim Square. Much cheaper than the quoted $100 for a hotel transfer! From Taksim Square the metro had us within easy walking distance of our hotel in the Fatih district looking over the Sea of Marmara.
After a quick gin and ‘lemonate’ (seems we must extend the search for tonic) we did a brief scrutiny of the local area, walked up to the Blue Mosque, grabbed a late bite to eat and then wandered back to our hotel.
The next morning, we caught the metro back to Taksim Square and followed a route back through the city suggested to us by Wayne & Raewyn Green, friends of ours who lived near Istanbul for a time while teaching here.
As is always the case we ‘sussed’ out a good place for coffee to get us ‘revved up’ for the day. We found a nice roof top café that gave us some great views over the city.
The security presence in the city is obvious but not over-powering. Metro stations and large stores have scanners and controlled entry and the main tourist areas have a higher presence of police and armed vehicles.
We followed Istiklal Cadessi (this street used to have an old tram operating down the middle however this has now been ripped up) along to the Galata Tower where there were queues of people lining to get up to see the view. We were happy with our view from coffee so carried on. We wandered slowly down the quirky little streets until we reached the bridge across the Golden Horn (a branch of the Bosphoros). The bridge at both ends was lined with fisherman. From there we walked up through the Spice Bazaar and into the Grand Bazaar. The crowds were amazing and nothing quite like we have seen anywhere else on our travels!
We continued up to Gülhane Park and the Blue Mosque stopping for a tea break on the way. The crowds were much smaller to enter the Blue Mosque, however the carpet salesmen were out in force!! We followed our way back down the hill to a bar not far from our hotel for a cold beer and orange juice.
Dinner that night was at a roof top restaurant we would only recommend for the view!
With the good advice from Raewyn and Wayne we planned a 10 day trip around the South West area of Turkey. Our rough plan was to head down to the Gallipoli Peninsula, on around the Aegean Coast and up into the Cappadocia region before flying back to Istanbul from Kayseri on the 26th of April.
We planned on returning to the same hotel in Istanbul so trimmed our luggage down from 45 to 15kg and left the balance behind. No green packs this time so we had everything in one bag. We started our journey with two nights booked at the Crowed House Hotel in Eceabat and flights back from Kayseri. The rest of the journey would unfold as we moved along.
We caught the bus from Istanbul at 10.30am and arrived in Eceabat at the scheduled time of 4.00pm. Pauli our host at the Crowed House Hotel was certainly familiar with welcoming guests from downunder! There was plenty to indicate there had been many before us! The town was small and quiet so the restaurateurs were keen for our custom. The conversations provided much hilarity as not all were as conversant with English as Pauli.
We had pre-booked a tour of the Gallipoli Battlefields for the following day so we could easily fend off the plentiful offers coming our way!
Our tour the next day started with lunch! We were fortunate to have a very small group. Just two other girls from Australia made up our little group. The girls were teaching in Ankara and it was school holidays so took the opportunity to visit.
One of the last things we did before leaving NZ two years ago was to visit 'Gallipoli: The scale of our war', an exhibition at the National Museum at Te Papa in Wellington. It was a sober reminder of the extraordinary situation New Zealand and Australian soldiers found themselves in during this campaign! If there was just one thing to be done while visiting Turkey, it was to visit the Gallipoli Peninsula!
Denis well remembers the prominence placed on the sacrifices made by Old Boys of his High School (Waitaki Boys) in this campaign through the construction of the ‘Hall of Memories’ and the naming of dormitories after sites on the Peninsula… Chunuk Bair, Sari Bair, Lone Pine, Anzac Cove, Quinn’s Post to name a few.
It was a sombre day indeed and certainly put the geographical nature of the demands placed on soldiers in perspective!
Our Turkish tour guide did a very good job of keeping a ‘balanced’ view of this fateful campaign.
We feel fortunate to have visited this Peninsula that defined the courage and commitment of the ANZAC’s and earned them respect worldwide!
"Lest we forget"