Friday – At Sea
: As we are at sea from Kusadasi to Istanbul we have one whole day traveling through the Dardanelle Straights and the Sea of Marmara. We approached the straights around 10:00 AM and could see a very large monument on the European side commemorating the battle of Gallipoli where over 250,000 soldiers lost their lives during the First World War. The announcement by the Windstar staff about the battle made the event sound much more balanced than it was. And to be honest, the Turkish government has gone to great lengths over the last 20 years to make the fierce, and at times atrocious, loss of life all more like “brothers” from the point of view of the horrors of war. In fact it was a poorly planned and executed allied push to secure the Dardanelles while it was a vicious defense of the area by the Turks. Nobody really won in this battle.
At the same time, there are ancient 16th
century fortifications on both sides of the Dardanelles. These were created by Mehmet the Conqueror when he was isolating Constantinople prior to attacking the city. He built forts here and above Constantinople on the Bosphorus.
Here he had cannons and above the city he had a chain strung across the Bosphorus. Most interesting is that he had these fortifications built in less than three months … and they are still standing. Impressive.
We watched the traffic going to and from the Black Sea and the Marmara: hundreds of ships every day. A visit to the bridge showed 32 on the short range radar screen. A very busy place to be. The small city we went past at the entrance to the straights was also the landing place for the Greeks when they came to Troy. If you look closely you can see a large wooden horse in the waterfront park (surely it is an exact replica of the original!).
As we crossed the Sea of Marmara we enjoyed our last meal in the restaurant and drinks in the bar. The crew sang to us and the captain gave a farewell address. It was quite smaltzy but rather fun. Then to bed and into Istanbul.
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