Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day 152 - Gallipoli Tour

Woke up early in the morning to get more information about booking a tour of Gallipoli, a war site during the First World War. I ended up booking an English speaking tour so I could get some more information about the battles in the area.

The tour would start at noon, so I took the opportunity to walk around Canakkale and see some of the tourist sights. I went to the surrounding park next to the Ottoman Castle, which had replicas of old cannons and underwater mines. Entrance to the castle itself and museum were closed today. Afterwards, I checked out the Cannakale city museum to get some more information about the history of the city and it's people. Lastly, I went to the Mirrored Bazaar, which was a small bazaar selling touristic merchandise, none of which I had any desire to purchase.

I boarded the ferry across the Dardanelles river to get to Eceabat, where I met with the rest of the people on the Gallipoli tour. They were mostly from the United States and Australia. Apparently, many Australians and Kiwis come to Gallipoli on a pilgrimage on April 25 (Anzac Day) in remembrance of the soldiers who fought and died during the 9-month fighting in the area. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corp and there were many soldiers who signed up to fight in Turkey on the side of the British without really knowing what they were fighting for. At this time, Australia and New Zealand were still British-owned territories.

The tour was about 4 hours long, and we were driven to some commemorative sites as well as some cemeteries and key battleground sites. Much of the information was too detailed for me to remember too clearly, but it was all very informative and the tour guide seemed very passionate about sharing the history and significance of the war. You could always watch the Mel Gibson movie, but seeing and hearing about it is so much better. While the Turks were fighting on the side of the Germans/Triple Alliance and the Anzacs were fighting with the Triple Entente, the soldiers developed a sort of friendship and mutual respect for each other. Because of this, and because of the 130,000 people who died, there are memorials for both sides and there was a beautiful quote that was proudly displayed at the memorial:

Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

I think I would skip the tour if I were a backpacker though, maybe save it for war history buffs, or when I am retired. 

Gallipoli Tour

Replica of the Trojan Horse in Canakkale

Beers and Turkish Football with my CS Host, Aydin, and Gizem and Guzel

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