We arrived in Constantinople, Turkey and very easily made our way to Sultanahmet from the airport (train and tram for about $3 each, public transport is so easy and cheap!). We spent 3 nights here wandering about the town. Highlights include The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, copious amounts of turkish tea and delicious Kurdish food amongst other things!
The Blue Mosque is so beautiful.The interior upper mosque is dominated by blue tiles hence giving the name The Blue Mosque- it’s proper name is Sultanahmet Camii. From the outside it looks fake, like a backdrop to a movie and from the inside it’s so insanely breath-taking, you could stare at the ceiling all day long! There are over 20,000 hand made ceramic tiles in more than 50 tulip designs and more than 200 stained glass windows in here.
Ayasofya or Hagia Sophia museum is also breath-taking, half of it is taken up by scaffolding which is a little unfortunate but it was still gorgeous to walk through!
Didn’t realise but we came 2 days before their elections andddd there was a suicide bomber in another town (ages and ages away from Istanbul but still very scary!). Probably ought to look into things like elections and definitely check smartraveller.gov.au before getting to a country..We had plans to travel the coast and head inland but after that happened I was on edge and just wanted to leave. Next time..when things are a bit more stable over there.
This was before we had to have a 2 hr nap haha! Then I googled just how bad shisha is for you…
If you are flying into Turkey Ataturk airport is the easier airport to fly into, unless you are landing and leaving again straight away from SAW. Sabiha Gökçen International airport (SAW) is where the majority of the budget airlines fly into but it is quite a long mission into the city from there, might be worth paying that little bit extra and landing at Ataturk once you’ve factored in a taxi. Turkey is hugeee, the bus network can get you pretty much anywhere but be prepared for long rides, you can find cheap enough internal flights in you book in advance though! Also apparently you aren’t supposed to drink the tap water (explains the random stomach pains!) the locals don’t even drink it…woopsie daisy!
The Turkish people are so helpful and friendly! When we were arriving at the metro we must have been looking a little lost, a local approached us and after pretending to be an aeroplane he pointed us in the right direction and instead of continuing off on his day walked us down into the station and used his metro card to pay for our train tickets…what a guy!
From here we went on an absolute mission to Canakkale. Well not that difficult but we got herded onto a local bus instead of a tourist bus after the ferry ride and wow what a long cramped bus drive that was and it dropped us at a random spot! I should probably heed my own advice and avoid local buses…We based ourselves here to visit Anzac Cove. I’ve been attending the dawn services for as long as I can remember so Anzac day has always meant a lot. Especially since my great grandfather was a part of the Gallipoli campaign. There are day tours from Istanbul (it’s a 5hr bus ride each way so be prepared for that) but I really wanted to walk in the footsteps of the soldiers for a more personal experience.
We watched a documentary the night before and downloaded the audio walking tour to our phones from here: Anzac Cove Walk. That’s also the map of the walk we followed except we continued North from Walkers Ridge to Chunuk Bair.We got a $1.50 local ferry across from Canakkale to Eceabat then a taxi to drop us at the starting location.
They couldn’t have landed in a more terrible spot, imagine getting off the boat and trying to climb this terrain with Turkish soldiers perched at the top firing down on you… Absolute blood bath.
Yep…from what I can see we ought to turn around and go back, ain’t no way we can make it up there…. Oh the lives that would’ve been spared had I been in charge.
From here we walked along the beach to Ari Burnu:
Brighton beach & beach cemetery
then up Artillery road as the soldiers called it to Shell Green
down to the 4th Battalion then to Courtney and Steeles Post
Quinns Post and a heap of trenches..
the Turkish memorial (more than 80,000 Turkish soldiers died)
The Nek, Walkers Ridge and Chunuk Bair.
It was so hard trying to picture the carnage that went on here compared to the tranquility and peacefulness that it is like today. There were far too many plaques that read age: 17. Some people had put photos of the fallen next to their plaques too.
There are quite a lot of dogs around, but they are all so placid and seem SO happy to see you. We had one who joined us on our walk for a few kms, kinda like a tour guide leading the way 🙂 Anzac spirits perhaps.
It says not to picnic or play games at the memorial sites but I felt it most appropriate to enjoy my vegemite sandwiches here.
The turkish are very friendly people and eager to help out! I asked a local if there was a restaurant nearby (So we could call a cab to get home) and they thought we were hungry so went to their car and gave us a heap of organic almonds, apricots and another delicious dried fruit I’ve never seen/had before. Such a kind gesture! And when we finally waved down a car to call a taxi for us they were more than willing to help…
If you are pressed for time then jump on a tour bus from Istanbul, if you have the time I highly highly recommend walking it, there were heaps of tour buses but we quite often had the memorials to ourselves or just waited 10mins until the buses left… We got to visit all the sites the buses can’t reach too. There were a few groups who had hired cars which would be a good option if walking isn’t your thing. I wouldn’t hire a car in Istanbul though, the drivers are pretty crazy..almost as gnarly as Asia. Make your way down to Canakkale and organise it from there.
What a day. What a humbling experience. Utmost respect to the brave diggers who fought here. I am forever grateful to those who put their lives on the line and am so thankful to be able to live the way I do!!! I hope to never have to live through the atrocities of a war. One hundred thousand thanks a million times over.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Lest we forget.