Day 2 was the day on the itinerary I was most looking forward to. One of the main reasons I booked this trip was because I wanted to visit ANZAC Cove.
We started the day at a very civil 8:30am before embarking on the 5 hour drive from Istanbul to ANZAC cove. As a city, Istanbul is ever expanding as the population grows. First a mosque is illegally built and within two weeks, so many apartment buildings have been illegally built that it becomes impractical to destroy them. The mosques are originally built by paying off the political mafia. Once constructed, without running water or electricity, politicians then buy votes by promising to instal these amenities if elected. The system works perfectly well because the politicians deliver on these promises and so the city continues to grow.
Our lunch stop was in the town of Gallipoli where we had the most disappointing kababs of our lives. We paid 10 lira (AU$5) for what was essentially a few pieces of chicken and a sprinkling of wilted salad wrapped in pita bread. Some of the boys in our contiki went around the corner from us and paid 4 lira for something a whole heap bigger and more authentic! I might need to join them for lunch next time!
It was also interesting to note that the boys on our table received their meals first, followed by all the other males sitting at the tables around us. Only after all the males had been served did any of the girls begin to receive theirs. Cultural differences aplenty!
ANZAC Cove was a 20 minute drive past Gallipoli and quite a few of us were ridiculously excited! We drove through the Dardanelles with our tour guide keeping up a really impressive history commentary. I also didn’t realise it, but Turkey produces a huge amount of sunflowers!
I had heard the road was really close to the ANZAC monument but I definitely was not prepared for just how close! Thankfully there is a lot of vegetation to shield some of the noise which adds a very solemn feeling to the experience.
After this sandstone monument, there is a short pathway to a memorial and some graves on the sight where the first soldiers are believed to have landed. Although the first landing is widly considered to have been very bloody, there were only 20 Turks manning the beaches at ANZAC cove and it wasn’t until Turkish reinforcements arrived that the battle turned bloody. The majority of first day casualties were drowned.
We also made an unscheduled stop at Shrapnel Valley Cemetery because two girls on our Contiki had a relative buried there. It was a beautiful place and I think we were all more than happy to visit Shrapnel Valley.
Many of the gravestones had epitaphs written below their names and dates, and my roommate (who is also from Sydney) found the gravestone of a soldier from the same area as us. I can’t describe the weird, calm-but-shaky feeling this particular gravestone gave us.
We then made our way to Lone Pine, which was one of the bloodiest hand-to-hand combats of the Gallipoli Campaign. The battle field has been beautifully rehabilitated into a memorial and grave sight. Many families have visited their relatives and left momentos of their visits.
We continued our tour of ANZAC Cove with a visit to a Turkish memorial. There are 37 ANZACs grave sights and memorials throughout the cove, but only 4 Turkish cemeteries. This is because the Turks did not have last names until 1927, meaning it was very hard to identify individuals. Thankfully, there are still monuments to the Turkish sacrifice.
We finished our tour with a visit to The Nek, which provided a spectacular view over ANZAC cove! It was incredible to imagine soldiers trying to climb this escarpment at 4am, dripping wet and freezing cold!
The Nek was one of the bloodiest and most violent hand-to-hand combats of the entire war and words really cannot do it justice. It is beautiful maintained, so it’s good to think that something so stunning can come out of such a bloody battle. Going to ANZAC Cover has been on my bucket list for a very long time, and I’m happy to say it really didn’t disappoint!