Being in Turkey for ANZAC Day meant that we were going to the Dawn Service in Gallipoli. We had read before going to the Dawn Service that we needed to be a part of an organised tour so we booked ours with Intrepid. It was here that we met our amazing guides, an Aussie – Jen, and a Turk – Suleyman. With Mark’s birthday on the 24th April it meant he spent his 27th birthday on a 4 hour bus ride to Eceabat, Turkey. That may sound pretty bad but it wasn’t a completely terrible birthday. We made friends with the other Aussies on our bus and he was able to have a BBQ and drinks at a bar called Boomerang. We stayed there for a few hours before we were told we had to get back on the bus at about 11pm for the drive to ANZAC Cove. The drive wasn’t very long and we were at ANZAC Cove and through security before we knew it. Mark had had a bit to drink at the bar so on our walk from the carpark to our spot on the grass he kept us all entertained. But what tends to happy when you’ve had a bit to drink is that you repeat yourself. While walking Mark asked where his “Uber was at” we all laughed at this and thought he was funny. It was only funny the first time though and the other 7 times it was just repetitive. Once we reached the ceremony grounds we found a spot on the grass, set up our sleeping bags and tried to get some sleep.
A couple of hours before the sun came up everyone started to slowly pack up their things in preparation for the Dawn Service. Just before the official ceremony commenced they played a short film called The Telegram Man, which really got the waterworks going. The service itself was quite moving and it was amazing to be in Gallipoli for ANZAC Day. I know it sounds cliche but there was something really special being there with other Aussies and Kiwis remembering those who gave their lives for us 101 years ago. After the service we walked for about 4 and a half hours up to Chunuk Bair for the Kiwi memorial. We stopped along the way to look at major landmarks of the battles that happened there and spent quite a bit of time at Lone Pine which is the Australian memorial site. There was no actual memorial service this year for Aussies so we all went to the Kiwi one. At Chunuk Bair they could only allow a certain number of people up to the site for the service, the rest of us had to watch the service on a big screen. It was quite amazing though because as the site started to fill up and they began turning people away all of the Aussies remaining had the same idea – we wouldn’t go to the site just in case there were a few Kiwis that showed up at the last minute. After all it was their memorial service, not ours. After the service at Chunuk Bair finished we waited for our bus to arrive so we could head back to Istanbul. It was a very quite bus ride. The experience as a whole was quite amazing and definitely once in a lifetime type experience. What made it even more amazing was hearing the history of the ANZAC’s from a Turk. Back home we learn about the war from Australians and we learn about it from our Australian point of view and hearing about it from a Turk’s point of view seems to sum up everything we have learnt and shows us how terrible it was for everyone involved, even if, ultimately the Turks won the battles in Gallipoli.
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.
The next few days we spent in Istanbul and Suleyman was nice enough to meet us on his day off to show us around. Istanbul is unbelievable. We absolutely loved going to the market and buying Turkish Delight, nuts, fruits and spices. None of it is like what we get back home. There is so much to see in Istanbul and we spent hours each day walking around. Everywhere we turned there was something to look at or new food to eat. It wasn’t just the sites and food that made our time in Istanbul great but the people as well. Everywhere we went people were always more than happy to help us – a guy stopped us in the street and asked us if we needed help getting to where we were going (we must have looked super lost). Even when people stopped us in the street to try to sell us something and we said no, they always just asked to talk to us. It may have been their way of building rapport so we did eventually buy something but it never felt like that. To top it all off every time we said we were from Australia, no matter where we were they always replied “G’day mate”.
I’m glad we ended our time in Turkey in Istanbul. It is such an amazing city and I can’t wait to go back. It was also really fitting that we reached the 100 day mark in Istanbul.
I’m really sad thinking about leaving here but we are off to Jordan and I have no idea what it will be like there. Hopefully just as amazing as Turkey has been to us.