Friday, 24 April 2009

Turkey for Anzac Day


23 April 2009- 26 April 2009

23 April 2009
Had 4 ½ hours sleep and then up again at 5 for at taxi to the airport to catch my early morning flight to Istanbul. I was a bit stressed about my flights because I had trouble booking them, but there were no problems, yah!

Once in Istanbul I navigated myself out of the airport and was contemplating how to get to my hotel as transfers weren’t included by my tour company. Fortunately, I bumped into another girl, Jaime, who was on the same tour just a different hotel and we ended up getting a transfer together.

Once checked into the hotel I decided to wonder into town and check out a few of the sights as this was my only free time in Istanbul. I got Jaime’s number and we wandered around together.

We saw the Blue Mosque.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the
national mosque of Turkey. The mosque is one of several mosques known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built between 1609 and 1616.

That night our tour had organised for us to all meet in a bar (there were three different groups in different hotels) and spent the night drinking, dancing and smoking herbal fruits in Shisha’s.

A hookah (Shisha) is a single or multi-stemmed (often glass-bottomed) water pipe for smoking. Originally from India, the hookah has gained immense popularity, especially in the Middle East. A hookah operates by water filtration and indirect heat. It can be used for smoking marijuana, herbal fruits, or tobacco.

Trying the Shisha ----------------Too much shisha

24 April 2009

The next day we got up early and jumped on the bus to Anzac Cove

ANZAC Cove is a small cove on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. It became famous as the site of World War I landing of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) on April 25 1915. The cove is a mere 600m long, bounded by the headlands of Ari Burnu to the north and Little Ari Burnu, known as Hell Spit, to the south. Following the landing at Anzac Cove, the beach became the main base for the Australian and New Zealand troops for the eight months of the Battle of Gallipoli.

We arrived at Anzac Cove at around 1pm and then found out we weren’t allowed into the site yet so we just mucked around and looked around the various graves, sites, etc.

Shrapnel Valley - got its name in the early days after the landing. As the Turks realised that this had become the highway to the front their guns rained shrapnel shells down upon this area. These shells made a particular whistle before they burst showering those below with lethal pellets. Australian: 527, New Zealand: 56, British: 28

At about 3ish everyone lined up and waited to get searched, metal detected and wrist banded up and then it was off to the cove to find a good spot for spending the rest of the day and night.

I spent the afternoon searching out my three flatmates that were there, hanging out the Debra and her tour group and generally just chilling and soaking up the atmosphere.

As the night goes on, people cosy up in their sleeping bags, fight for sleeping space and settle in. All throughout the night they have a big screen going playing stories and memories from war veterans, historians, etc. More people come throughout the night.

As dawn approaches we are all woken up and told to get up and shuffle along to make room for the people who are just arriving and the dawn service starts - make em stand I say (we have been there for hours!).

The service goes for about 45 minutes and includes, music, speeches, hymns, messages from the Aus and NZ prime ministers and the last post.

After the service we have about 3 hours to get up to Chunuk Bair about a 5 km uphill walk away, there is where the New Zealand service was being held.

The Battle of Chunuk Bair was a World War I battle fought between the Turkish defenders and troops of New Zealand and Britain on Turkey's Gallipoli peninsula in August 1915. The capture of Chunuk Bair, the secondary peak of the Sari Bair range, was one of the two objectives of the Allied August Offensive that was launched at Anzac and Suvla to try and break the stalemate that the campaign had become.

The capture of Chunuk Bair was the only success for the Allies of the campaign. However, the success was fleeting as the position proved untenable. The Turks recaptured the peak after a few days and were never to relinquish it again.

So we just strolled on up, stopping at the various graves on the way and for frequent breathers (spews), (I am not fit as the best of times, let alone with the way that I was feeling) until we finally made it up there. We were contemplating going to the Australian service at Lone Pine but decided to just get up there. We found a good stop on the grass in the sun and waited for the service to start. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually see most of the service as I was feeling too horrible, but listened to it and managed to find this footage - news footage of service.

After the service, the system they use to pick everyone up is whereby they gave you all the number of your bus and basically the buses are all lined up in random order and you have to wait until your bus turns up, fortunately our bus turned up after about ½ hour, but some people waited up to 2ish hours.
This is the line of buses we saw as we were heading out.

I was so sick on the way back that unscheduled stops had to be made and spent the rest of the night trying to sleep it off in my hotel room.

26 April 2009
The next day we got up and headed to the airport for our flight to Cairo.

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