I arose early and headed to the airport around 4am for my 4 hour flight to Istanbul. Flew with easyjet who are every bit low cost with no seat allocation, no free food and no leg room but overall I was very happy with the flight. Friendly staff, comfortable enough and most importantly cheap!!!!
After leaving dreary London weather behind I was very excited to see the sun shining on a gorgeous 25 degree day in Istanbul. We arrived at lunch time and met up with the fanatics crew. After some minor confusion we were on our shuttle and on our way to meet up with the rest of the crew in the heart of Istanbul. After surviving the insane traffic and driving habits of Turkish traffic we arrived at the Sultan hostel, the base of the fanatics operations
. We got kitted out with our fanatics Gallipoli gear for the next day and headed off on a walking tour of the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul. We made our way to the blue mosque where our very informative guide gave us the back ground of the area and the mosque itself. It doesn't look like much from the outside but inside blows the mind! Not bad for a 400 year old building! From there we made our way past the Eye of Sofia, at one point in time the largest church in the world before being converted to a mosque. We continued on through the inspiring streets of istanbul before it was time to head back to the sultan hostel for a feed and get ready for the real reason we had all made the trek to turkey - Gallipoli.
Havin had very little sleep since before Matty's wedding I used the 6 hour drive out to Gallipoli to sneak a couple of hours sleep ahead of the big day at the cove. We arrived at the check point at around 130am local time where we disembarked the buses, cleared the security check point (more thorough than the airport in Istanbul!) and made the 20 minute walk to Anzac cove in preparation for the dawn service. Arriving at the site of the dawn service was an uplifting experience seeing thousands of Aussies and kiwis there ready to pay respect to our diggers and our countries. Being one of the last groups to arrive and having to take rest in the stands meant sleep was not an option
. Instead we grabbed some hot chocolate and a chicken kebab and continued to get to know the friends I had met earlier in the day. As day break approached the temperature plummeted so it was time to pull out the sleeping bag and rug up. The service began a little after 5am And it is not possible for me to describe the atmosphere and the power of the occasion. Barely a dry eye in the house by the time the last post was played, the dawn service complete it was now time to make the trek to Lone Pine. Taking our time to stop, reflect and pay our respects at the many cemeteries and memorials that scatter the Gallipoli coast and hills we arrived at Lone Pine around 9am ready for the 10am Australian service. Whilst waiting I had the honour of shaking the hand of vc recipient, Ben Roberts Smith, a truly amazing moment indeed. The service was respectful and gave great time to reflect on where we were and what had happened there 97 years before. If you do not know the story of the battle for lone pine please read up, it is sure to put some perspective of just what our diggers went through for our great country. With the Australian service complete we made our way up to Chunuk Bair to meet up with our kiwi counterparts. From the hill top we were able to take in not only the beauty of turkey but Los appreciate the conditions these battles were fought in and understand the goal of the campaigne - access to Istanbul. With days services completed around lunchtime we waited for our bus to take us back to Istanbul for the evenings activities
. We arrived back in Istanbul around 8pm, had a much needed shower at the hotel and headed round to the Sultan hostel for two up, many beers and some local Sheesha.
After getting in at the wee hours of the morning I grabbed a couple of hours sleep before a wake up shower and jumping on the transfer back to the airport. As we flew away from Turkey, you can't help bu feel changed from that person that arrived 48 hrs before....
This is a must for any Aussie bucket list! Truly a life changing experience :) And if you havent already clued on, Australia is an amazing country and we are all blessed to call ourselves Aussies!
A Baker Abroad
Where do I begin on my 3 days in Turkey...