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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Friday, 10 Apr 2009

Location: Gallipoli, Turkey

MapDay 10 April 10 Good Friday
80 kms on the bike.
We have a list of places we want to visit before we die. We crossed one of them off the list today. Gallipoli is a place that we’ve been hearing about since our earliest memories, and seeing it today was quite surreal. We were lucky to visit on a brilliant sunny day, the water was calm and blue, making this place serenely beautiful. Hard to imagine the hundreds of thousands of casualties suffered by the ANZACs, British, French and Turks over the 9 month Gallipoli campaign. I am currently reading the book “Gallipoli” written by Alan Moorehead published in 1956 – I recommend it – and I recognize most of the place names in this relatively small area. We rode to 5 different places, each with a memorial, either Australian, New Zealand or Turkish, and each one was so very well presented and maintained. I think we came away wiser for the experience, and re-assured that the ANZAC memory is in the reliable hands of the Turks. We’re glad we did not do this on ANZAC Day – for example we had the whole of ANZAC Cove to ourselves – the stands were already erected for April 25th, and the thousands of seats available was quite scary for the hoards about to occupy them.
It’s crazy to think of what a senseless waste of human life this campaign was in 1915, but quite beautiful to think that the commander who led the Turks to victory against the ANZACs eventually went on to lead his country to become a republic, and told Australia in 1934 that “your fallen now lie in the soil of a friendly country … your sons are now our sons”. Indeed, we can confirm that this is a friendly country, and we are loving their friendship and hospitality.
After the emotional morning at Gallipoli, which is on the outer, western side of the Gallipoli peninsula, we crossed over to the western side to catch a ferry over to the other side of the Dardenelles, effectively crossing from Europe into Asia, in reality from the townships of Eceabat to Cannakale, where we stayed the night in a very appropriately hotel called the Anafartalar (??) These two towns straddle the waterway that leads north to the Marmara Sea and then the Bosphorus River, and then the Black Sea (and Russia). This stretch of just over a kilometer wide is called The Narrows, and has been of strategic importance for centuries for the control of this water system, including the vital period in 1915. Both towns have a stone fortress either side that has guarded the entrance for hundreds of years.