A trip to Gallipoli

Trip Start Feb 23, 2008
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Trip End Jun 05, 2008


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Flag of Turkey  , Turkish Aegean Coast,
Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I got up about 5.30am and had a quick shower then went around the corner to the Hassle Free office to get picked up by the coach.   We drove around for a bit picking up other passengers then made our way out of town.  Its so clean and organised here - the tulips are in bloom and they're planted neatly and colour coded along the side of the road...   I slept for a bit on the bus then we stopped for brekky at a roadhouse along the side of the road where i had some soup.... more sleeping we eventually came to the town of Eceabat and stopped for a roast chicken and salad lunch by the seaside.   I chatted to some other Aussies on the tour then it was finally time to move on and see what we had come down here for...
Our first stop of many was at Brighton Beach, the place where the ANZAC's were meant to land (its an easier landing and not as cliffy) and Hells Spit then we stopped at ANZAC Cove.   Its so small and its very hard to imagine how they landed and set up camp..  The beach was much wider back then but its still practically a sheer cliff above and the Turks were sitting and waiting.    We walked back to Hells Spit cemetery and saw the grave of John Simpson - the "Man with the Donkey" amongst others.   
We then moved up the coast to the ANZAC Commemorative site - they have shifted the dawn service site to a place down the road from ANZAC Cove to keep up with the demand of people who attend.    It was a great idea coming down before i go to the dawn service as there is no-one here.!    They have set up the seats for 25th April already and I am looking forward to being there for it.     Next stop was the Anburnu cemetery to check out more graves then we headed up the hill to Lone Pine - another important site for Aussies.   Its called Lone Pine because there is only 1 tree here and its seed came from a tree that once stood here during battle times.  We all signed the book thats in the memorial then looked at a few of the graves (soldiers were so very very young) and checked out the view down the peninsula.  
Just down the road a little are actual trenches - not made with wood but the contours of the land...  hard to picture the soldiers huddled down fighting the men in other trenches literally across the road.  We were told at some points the opposing trenches were only a few metres apart.   Johnston's Jolly cemetery is across the road with many of the graves written 'believed to be buried in this cemetery'.      Next stop was the Turkish memorial - a whole lot more graves of very young soldiers, one tablet in particular quite moving - they found the bodies of an English and a Turkish soldier in a hug and they decided to keep them together the way they had been found.    We saw more trenches up at the Nek -- our guide even showing us shrapnel that was still lying around even after so many years.   From this site there were fantastic views of Suvla Bay where the British landed and waited for instructions and drank lots of tea while the ANZAC's fought (all due to miscommunication).   There was a huge blood bath that occurred up here at the Nek and its where the final scene from the movie Gallipoli is based.  Our last stop was at Chunuk Bair - a place that everyone wanted to have ownership of and what all the fighting was over.  The Turks held it for all bar 2 or 3 days of the WW1 campaign.   There is a NZ memorial here and also reconstructed trenches which are fascinating.   There is also a statue of Mustafa Kemal - the man of the Turkish side. The statue is right in the spot where he stood and ordered the attacks. Its also the place where he would have died from a shrapnel wound if he hadn't of had his pocket watch!    
By now we were done so we made our way down the mountain so we could catch the 6pm ferry across to Canakkale where we would stay the night - a quick 1/2 hr ride.   We hopped off and I checked into my Hostel @ ANZAC House.   I had a 5 berth room all to myself which was pretty good!    I dumped my stuff and went for a walk along the foreshore & saw the actual horse that was used in the movie Troy starring Bana & Pitt... I took some pics of this and the nearby harbour then made my way back to the hostel.   I thought i met up with some people on my trip but ended up gatecrashing another group... The leader didn't mind so we went for dinner at one of the harbourside restaurants then i headed back to the hostel for the screening of the Gallipoli movie... Having seen where it all took place it was really hard to watch and i admit i totally bawled at the end.... I crashed not long after in my nice quiet bunk...!
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