Gallipoli – A pilgrimage (of sorts)

It’s a 6 hour bus trip from Istanbul to Gallipoli and it didn’t take long into the journey to experience our first real frustration travelling with kids.  We arrived at the Istanbul bus terminal in good time to catch the bus, plenty of time for Dominic and Callum to visit the boys room, but  “no wees coming”.  Just as we pulling out of the terminal Callum pipes up “Dad, need to go toilet”.  Luckily he could hold on until our first stop.  A quick dash to the boys room (no toilets here folks, just standing long-drops).  Dominic didn’t want to go, however 5 minutes up the road “Dad, busting”.  Unbelievable!!  Lucky for him (and us) a quick stop on the roadside for relief, and we were away.

Our base for this leg is over the Dardanelles in a great little seaside town called Canakkale.  We could have stayed on the Gallipoli side of the strait in Eceabat but were so glad we chose Canakkale.  Dinner upon arrival was at one of the many restaurants right on the water, watching the small fishing boats come in from a days labour.  There was even a place for the boys to run around while we had a couple of quiet drinks (pure heaven).

We‘d booked a day trip to the battlefields of Gallipoli with ANZAC House who have been here for years (I stayed with them 20 years ago) and they were excellent.  Our guide really knew his subject matter.  The tour took in the main points of interest, Brighton Beach (as named by the Brits and where the ANZACs should have landed), ANZAC Cove (where they did land) and then monuments to the Aussies, Turks and Kiwi soldiers.  We were a bit apprehensive as our tour party (and I use the term “party” loosely as they were all over 60) may not have been to accommodating with 2 kids running amok.  We needn’t have worried, after a bribe of McDonalds for dinner (parenting 101) we had 2 excellent boys and a number of the veterans commending us and the boys on their behavior.

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We were really glad we made the effort to visit Gallipoli.  All of us took away something from the visit.  Trina and I learnt a lot about the battle that went on and to be honest, we were a little bit embarrassed with our lack of knowledge of ANZAC Day.  Dominic’s lasting impression was that some of the graves showed boys of just 16 and 17 year of age buried there.  Callum, who we didn’t think would get much from the trip at all, surprised us 2 days later with some drawings of the graves and battlefields.

We’ve taken a different route back to Istanbul.  Instead of getting the bus all the way, we’ve bussed for 2.5 hours and then ferry for 2 hours.  A little bit more expensive but plenty of room to move around and a perfect time to do some homework and some journal writing.

London tomorrow.  Dominic says he’s looking forward to speaking to people who speak English.

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