Days 40-45 – Eceabat (Gallipoli Peninsula)

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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Gallipoli
July 24th 2011
Published: July 24th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Fortress at Kilitbahir at night from ferryFortress at Kilitbahir at night from ferryFortress at Kilitbahir at night from ferry

A bit blurred due to vibrations of ferry engine.
Our holiday is just about over and Eceabat has been our last stop before heading back to Istanbul and the plane back to Australia.

We arrived in Eceabat on Tuesday after a long bus trip from Selçuk. Our trip took a little longer than expected as there was an accident on one stretch of road that closed the road for about 30 minutes. We don’t know what happened but we could see that a Coca Cola truck had gone off the side of the road and headed down the mountain. We arrived at Çanakkale at about 9:30 pm and then caught the 10:00 pm ferry across the Dardanelles to our new home in Eceabat – the Crowded House backpackers. The ferries in this area must be the best value transport anywhere – 2TL (about $1.20) as a pedestrian passenger.

By the time we arrived in Eceabat Terry was feeling pretty uncomfortable and quite exhausted. A few days earlier he had slipped on a wet piece of marble at the travertine terraces in Pamukkale and hurt his ribs. Although this hadn’t stopped him over the previous few days he was quite uncomfortable travelling on the bus. At the time we didn’t realise that he was also crook but by Wednesday that had became obvious – we think that the chicken casserole that he had enjoyed for dinner was partly to blame.

We’d booked into Crowded House for 2 nights and had booked their Gallipoli Tour for the day after our arrival. On the bus we had decided that we would stay in Eceabat until just before our departure from Turkey so we had a total of 6 nights here and thus the freedom to postpone our tour. Why 6 nights in Eceabat? Well, we’ve seen all of the sites in Istanbul and it is relatively expensive compared to the rest of Turkey. We could have gone somewhere else but that meant another long bus trip, probably past Istanbul. It just seemed more relaxing to sit. We did look into bringing our flight forwards but there was only one spare seat between Istanbul and Brisbane for the 6 days prior to our scheduled departure so it sounds as if the flights will be packed.

So, Wednesday was pretty much a rest day. Terry lay in bed for most of the morning and I went out, firstly looking to bring our flights forwards and then looking for somewhere more comfortable to stay. By Wednesday afternoon Terry was feeling a bit better and so we caught the local bus to the next village along the peninsula (Kilitbahir). We’d noticed Kilitbahir from the ferry the previous night as it has a fortress right on the waterfront that is attractively illuminated at night. It was extremely hot and so we didn’t stay for long. We could have climbed some steep, narrow stairs to the top of the fortress walls. Terry chose not to since he was still crook, and for me, the lack of railing at the sides made them appear steeper and narrower than they really were.

I was successful in finding new lodgings and we moved into them on Thursday after we had spent our 2 nights in the backpackers. Thursday was also Gallipoli Tour day and the markets in Eceabat. Our new room has a fridge and so we were able to stock up on some fruit at the market and sesame seed covered peanuts for snacks. The sesame seeds are stuck to the peanuts by honey or some other sweet syrup and so these peanuts taste a bit like the sugar-coated peanuts that we used to buy from fetes. We keep telling ourselves that the sesame seeds make these a type of health food.

The Gallipoli Tour didn’t start until lunchtime as they wait for people to arrive from Istanbul on the morning bus. Once everyone had arrived we piled into a mini-bus and headed for lunch at a small family run restaurant and museum. Our tour group was a surprising mix of nationalities. There were 6 or 7 Australians, 3 Chinese Indonesians and 6 French on the bus. The Gallipoli battle occurred over 2 regions: the ANZAC sites to the north and the British-French sites on the southern tip of the Peninsula. Our tour took in just the ANZAC sites. After lunch we headed to the Anzac Cove region where we visited North Beach, a couple of small cemeteries and the Ariburnu Sahil Aniti which is a Turkish monument inscribed with Ataturk’s words of peace and reconciliation. The rocky formation known to the ANZACs as The Sphinx and the ANZAC Commemorative Site (location of the dawn service) are in this same area. Our guide also pointed out various ridges etc that were important in the battle.

After the beach sites we headed up the hill towards Chunuk Bair which is the highest point on the Peninsula and the objective of the allied attack on the Peninsula. From there you can see down the Peninsula and across the Dardanelles – in fact the views are very pleasant. Our first stop up the hill was the mainly Australian cemetery at Lone Pine, the Australian and Turkish trenches at Johnstone’s Jolly followed by a Turkish Cemetery for Ataturk’s 57th Regiment and a visit to The Nek. I knew that no-man’s land between the Allied and Turkish trenches was not very wide but I don’t think that I realised just how narrow it was. The 1-way road through the battle fields runs along no-man’s land and so it is only a matter of metres wide (probably about 10 m). Our final stop was Chunuk Bair which is the site of the New Zealand memorial (the NZ’ers captured Chunuk Bair for a few days) and a memorial to Ataturk. The tour was very informative and the drive through the landscape itself very pleasant.

This region is a bit greener than many other parts of Turkey with pine and fir trees covering the hills. Much of the region is now National Park and so farms have been allowed to revert back to more natural vegetation. The farms here are currently cutting hay and harvesting melons, tomatoes, peppers, beans and corn while many of the fields are filled with sunflowers.

On Friday we decided to take the local bus to the southern tip of the Peninsula to the village of Seddulbahir. We didn’t have any idea what we were going to do when we got there, figuring that all sites were more than walking distance from the village. However, V-Beach and Cape Hellas were quite close and we walked to both. The British memorial is at Cape Hellas and has good views out over the Dardanelles, Aegean Sea and the Peninsula itself. As we walked back into the village it was prayer time at the local mosque with the prayers being broadcast over loudspeakers. We had to walk past the mosque and were both a bit surprised to see women sitting outside the mosque praying and some men in the café across the street also praying. We continued around the corner and stopped to buy a cold drink and wait for our bus. While we were waiting locals began to distribute containers of food to everyone and we were also given one. We had no idea what it was about but appeared to be something to do with the mosque and we thought that it was perhaps something to do with the lead up to Ramadan (starts on 1 August). The meal was rice, chicken and chickpeas accompanied by yoghurt and a small honey-based dessert. Later, we thought that the bus was about to arrive and got up to leave. Just as we did this a man at the next table gave us some Turkish tea so we sat down again. When we arrived back at our hotel we asked one of the young English-speaking staff if she knew what it was. She said that it was a tradition that people do when they wish to give thanks to God.

Yesterday (Saturday) we went to Goceada. Goceada is a small island that lies off the Turkish coast. It is one of only 2 inhabited islands owned by the Turks although it used to be owned by the Greeks. This involved a 1.5 hour trip on a ferry (2 TL again) and then a short bus trip into the centre of town. We had lunch and then tried to visit a couple of small villages in the mountains. However, buses didn’t go to these and it was very hot so we returned to the beach for a swim. By the time we arrived at the beach a ferry was there and so we decided to cancel the swim and catch this ferry. So, it wasn’t a great day with too much time spent either travelling or waiting to travel. Later in the evening Terry had a haircut from one of the local barbers. Nothing particularly special there but he did comment about the flame that was used to remove ear hair.

Today we had a nice day. It started with a snorkel trip to an old WW1 wreck near Anzac Cove. The trip was organised by the Crowded House group and the wreck was an old steam-driven tender that had been scuttled – we assume as the Allies were retreating from the region. The water was crystal clear and there were a surprising number of fish around the wreck. One of the blokes in our group found a couple of lead bullets. In the area close to shore there was also a rocky shore reef and quite a few fish on that. We arrived back in town around lunch time and didn’t venture out again until late this afternoon. Then we walked out of town for a bit so that I could get my daily step count up and so that we could take some photos of the sunflowers.

Tomorrow morning we catch the bus to Istanbul and the next day fly back to Brisbane.


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