|April 24 started very early as we headed off for another 350 km drive. After passing more farmland, a gypsy village and other sites we ended up at Pergamon, another ancient site. The Acropolis was visible from a distance as we walked through a park to Asclepion, an ancient centre of healing. This was a bit different location and really showed the knowledge that was available back in 2nd century AD. The Roman medical centre has a bazaar stree, Temple, library and theatre. Sections of the pools, underground tunnels and rotundas still exist. This trip has definitely stretched my ancient Greece memories from school and as we here the stories I remember bits and pieces. The salesmen were busy selling fresh honey and pinenuts. I had never seen how pine nuts grow - interesting.
Later that afternoon we went to Troy. Now I would never have guessed the Troy, Trojan horse, Helen of Troy stories I learned about in school were in Turkey but they are! Whether the Trojan Horse story is true or not, the site boosts a giant wooden horse to introduce you to the site. There is not a lot of the site left but you do get a sense of how the 9 different cities were built around the original small city dating back 4500 years - the amazing part. Built in 3000 BC, it was abandoned in 500 AD. The site was originally discovered in `981 by a German businessman who was more interested in getting hold of the treasures than exploring the site to discover the ruins of several cities.
The last two days of travel took us through many interesting landscapes including the beginnings of some wind turbines. There are beautiful fields of all kinds of crops, enough to make people on the prairies very jealous. The land is very fertile and obviously there is the right amount of moisture and sunshine to produce great crops of wheat, barley, canola. Besides these wonderful fields there were great fields of oilve trees.
The day was not over after we left Troy as we made a mad dash to our next city Canakkale so we could catch the ferry across the Dardanelles Straight to the pennisula so we could see the shores of the Anzac Cove were the battle of Gallopi happened during World War I.
I have learned a lot in the last while about Turkey but this was the Australia/New Zealand history lesson. Those countries lost a number of men in this area over an 8 month period in 1915. April 25 however was the day when their troops landed on these shores in a poorly planned attack and suffered major losses to the Turks as they attempted to climb almost impossible cliffs. Over 8000 soldiers were lost. We visited the Lone Pine Cemetery (honoring the Australian casualities) and then the New Zealand site called Chunuk Bair. This site also had a huge statue of Attaturk (Turkey's famous general at the time who later became the first leader of the country). There are a number of different cemeteries which also honor Brits and French. The National Park is very beautiful and well kept.
This war story seems different than many others as there seemed to be quite a bit of empathy between the two sides and both sides talk about the 'fair and respectful fight" calling the April 25 event the Gentleman's Battle. The other very interesting fact is that Attaturk sent out letters to the mothers of all enemy soldiers killed that was quite moving. I've typed it at the end of today's entry.
We didn't get to the hotel until after 8:30. Now you might think that was the end of the long day. Wrong, it was just beginning.
It turns out that April 25 is Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand and this is the day they honor their war dead just like we do on November 11. Because of their troops landed at dawn that is when their ceremonies are. Many of the Australians on this trip picked it so they could go to the dawn ceremony at the Anzac site - it's almost a pilgrammage for them.
After being declared honorary Aussie, I went with my new mates to the dawn service. This meant getting 2 hours sleep and getting up at midnight, sitting for 3 hours in the cold and on cold plastic seats and then watching a ceremony similar to our Remembrance Day services. It was interesting and they did a great job.
The fun really began after the service. We knew that getting to the bus would take time as their were thousands there. Most of the people continued up the hill to Lone Pine for a specific Australia ceremony and then further up for a New Zealand ceremony. The police had a different opinion of our bus leaving and would not let the bus come in to get us. Perhaps it was the fact that the Aussie Prime Minister was present although security in the hotel the night before was nothing - yes she was at our hotel. The security issue meant we left almost 3 1/2 hours after the service was finished. They were busy tearing everything down around us. Finally our tour guide convinced 2 vans to drive 30 of us down to the bus where our driver did the fanciest back up on a narrow road past 8 other buses and finally found a spot to turn the big beast around.
Finally we were off to Istanbul, late, tired but all Aussies were happy. We hit the outskirts of Istanbul just in time for rush hour. We all know what rush hour looks like in the cities we know, try it in a city of 13 to 15 million people. We did have a lot of time to see many buildings as we drove in, including the new Trump Towers.
Attaturk's Letter (which was read at the dawn ceremony):
"Those heros that shed their blood and lost their lives in this country! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Rest in peace. You are lying with the Turkish soldiers side by side. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries! Wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our breast. They are and will be in peace. After they lost their lives on this land, they are our sons anymore.".