Published: May 8th 2008April 30th 2008
We arrived utterly exhausted from our tour of Egypt utterly desperate for a Laundromat to wash our clothes at. We’d gone for wayyyy to long without a machine wash and the old handwash in the basin was losing its effect. The family was there to meet us at the hotel and it was lovely to see them again and we couldn’t believe how much Kaylah had grown up since we’ve been gone.
We had a day in Istanbul before our tour began and took the time to catch up on some sleep and visit the Bazaar. After that though, we were flung into the frantic itinerary that comes with guided tours. You see so much but it is tiring. We had another day with the family before they headed back home and we changed hotels and spent three more lazy days exploring what Istanbul had to offer.
Our first impressions of Turkey were how lovely and friendly the people were. This impression lasted and it was a real highlight of the trip for us. The Turks are hands down the friendliest nation of people we’ve met so far. We’d return in a flash. Istanbul itself is a wonderful mix
of East and West. It seems to thrive on this duality even though politically it is eager to align itself with the West (i.e. join the European Union). We were expecting a country much more like Egypt than say, Spain but we were pleasantly surprised. Other than the friendly people, Turkey also has some of the cleanest and most hygienic public toilets in the whole of Europe (and Australia for that matter). See there’s something you didn’t know. We were very pleasantly surprised!
Even though we loved our stay in Istanbul, we wish we could have spent more time in the countryside exploring the rest of Turkey but that will have to wait for another time, we guess! We did a city tour of Istanbul on our last day of the tour and visited all the major sights, Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque, Topkaki Palace and the Grand Bazaar. We discovered that our tolerance of kebabs is far lower than our tolerance of pizza and couldn’t stand the sight of a kebab after a mere 8 days in Turkey. I think we lasted about 18 in Italy.
The main reason we were all there of course was for
Cemetery at Gallipoli
With Yuksek Tepe (High Hill) or the Sphinx of Gallipoli in the back ground.
ANZAC Day. We visited Gallipoli on the 23rd and visited the various sites on the peninsula. The tour was a bit rush rush as there was lots to see and more tourists arriving by a busload to get an “early” look at the sites before the rush set in the next day. So there wasn’t a real time to reflect. We were surprised by how large “Gallipoli” actually is. There are many different battle sites and hence cemeteries and memorials spread out all across the peninsula. After our Gallipoli tour we visited the ancient city of Troy, famous of course for the Trojan War and the big wooden horse. What we didn’t realise was that the town of Troy is centuries older than that even. It had just been constantly built on top of. They have now excavated what is apparently nine different towns of Troy over different periods, the earliest dated about 5000 years ago.
The evening of the 24th came and we were dropped off at ANZAC Cove at around 930 in the evening and only just got through to the grassed area near the beach before they shut it off for an hour or so. We
managed to find a spot altogether although it was very cramped. By morning we found ourselves spooning with total strangers as more people had arrived and it was so damn cold.
The gathering of Australians and New Zealanders at Gallipoli for ANZAC Day can only be described as a modern pilgrimage. About 10 000 made the pilgrimage there this year. Occasionally during one of the services or when you stood up to stretch your legs you’d gaze around and you’d really realise the amount of people that were there with you.
I read an article on the net that argued that the pilgrimage to Gallipoli (or any other foreign battle site) for ANZAC Day has become more on par with the festivals on the backpacker/young person trail than a serious day of remembrance and reflection. As a young person and after camping out all night and then standing silently side by side ten thousand other Australians and New Zealanders watching the sun rise over the Gallipoli High Hill and the waves silently wash against the shores of ANZAC Cove, all the while being reminded that what lays beneath you is the grave of over 5000 of your
ancestors, I certainly don’t agree.
Now I know a lot of people believe that celebrating ANZAC Day is a way of glorifying war and that the fact that the Gallipoli campaign was an absolute failure militarily should devoid it of any “legend” status. I believe that there is always another option to war but the fact remains that the young men, fathers, brothers, husbands and sons that fought and died in the Gallipoli campaign, in fact in any Australian war effort, at the time honestly believed that they were doing the right thing and protecting their country.
In a world where our cultural integrity is compromised by ever increasing homogenising capitalism we should relish the fact that our young people make the journey year after year to pay homage to the birthplace of our national identity. It has changed somewhat since 1915, certainly, but the fundamental values are still there and as citizens of a relatively new country still coming into its own and under the influence of very strong global forces we should want to keep as many of these traditional values as possible and who better to continue them than the young people of our nation.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest we forget
There are more photos below