After departing from Istanbul the Bee turned west. Essentially it was our long drive back to Amsterdam, albeit with many detours along the way. Along the way however we helped a slow turtle laboriously cross the road which was pretty awesome.Our first stop would be in the small old Turkish resort town of Sarkoy. It wasn’t much to write home about. Like Romania’s tourist villages it was a bit of a ghost town. With closed up children’s rides I surmised ol’ man Withers may have been haunting the beach front to get to some lucrative oil in the sand (‘Good one Shaggy!)
I also finally found a good use for a watermelon we’d had rolling around the back of the van since Bulgaria. Please meet Jack-sparrow-o-lantern… I call it Arrrrrrt.On a more sombre note, our main reason for heading west was to visit Gallipoli. I won’t make the backstory long because most of you reading this are Anzacs but for those who aren’t, here goes: In World War I the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS) fought a very grizzly battle on the shores of Gallipoli (locally Gelibolu for your GPSs) for months in an attempt to take Turkey. If they took Turkey the allies would have a clear sea-going passage to Russia (via the Med, the Sea of Marama, through the Bosphorus in Istanbul and out the other side to the Black Sea, before turning North for the Ukraine and Russia). This would stop them going through troublesome German countries. The Allies had the upper hand for about a week until Ataturk got his people moving. There was tens of thousands of deaths on all sides and the Allied mission was a complete failure.
Now in history, at the time it defined two young nations eager to prove their worth to the world. From the Turkish standpoint, not only were they getting invaded but this land was beautifully rugged and when not running red with blood the sea is a bright blue – something very much worth fighting for.
For a New Zealander and Australian like Liz and I a trip to Turkey isn’t complete without a visit to Anzac Cove. Well, before going Liz could take it or leave it, but once there I think she felt the gravity of the place. The only visitors there are Aussies and Kiwis, I don’t think you’ll find a lot of Turks going out there – their history is so littered with war and battles, this little skirmish in the north west probably doesn’t weigh in too heavily, although Ataturk is revered, the WWI general became President soon after. As our visit to Auschwitz was, the day held not a cloud in the sky, but just a warm, slight breeze. It didn’t set the mood for the dreary topic, but did encourage us to walk from site to site including the 1.5km hike uphill to Lone Pine (you can drive should you want to).While some epitaphs on the gravestones are stock standard (‘For God, Country and the Queen’) others felt much more personal, as words of warnings from distraught mothers who’ve lost their child God knows where and for God knows why. It choked us up and affected us much more than Auschwitz.
We wandered around the site with just another, older Australian couple doing the same. and I recalled it from the ceremony footage each April 25. I’d have mixed feelings about the Dawn service at Lone Pine, maybe too much flags-as-capes and terry towelling hats for my liking. I hear it has mellowed a bit in the last few years, but with littered tinnies on the path and no doubt some drunken Aussie Oi! Chants, it got pretty bad there.After our visit to all the sites the day was getting long. We drove back down the peninsula a wee bit and found a campsite. There were no tents or campers under the pine trees, he had it free to ourselves. I asked how much to stay the night and with a bit of confusion they said ten lere, which is five euro. Liz and I shared a few Cuba Libres and watched an incredible sunset over the water as we planned our next moves heading north west up the Adriatic while we laughed at the three camp dogs playing, their names translated to Sandy, a young lab, Cinnamon a brown terrier pup and Warrior a yappy yet precocious tan terrier, so called as Liz reminds me, because he was ‘strong in his heart’ said his owners.As it turned out, this was not a campsite at all, we’d read the map wrong. It was in fact just a family-run restaurant. The mother and father were very lovely and invited us for dinner to eat with their couple of employees and their daughter. We all shared a three-course meal that included a delicious octopus caught earlier that day. It was washed down with raki and water. When I tried to ask what raki was made of, the fella with the best English said raki was an ‘amigo’ to Ouzo. Knowing no words in each other’s languages except for pleasantries we swapped a English/Turkish language book back and forth. Unlike their forefathers who were understandably not too accommodating, these guys loved the Anzacs and were very warm to us, except for the teenage daughter who seemed ‘like, so embarrassed’ they invited strangers to dinner. Liz retired earlier but I stayed up drinking raki and sharing words from the book but feared the booze’s effects come morning so called it a night.Come morning, another beautiful day, we popped on our trunks and walked to a nearby pier and washed the cobwebs out with a few great dives. A few sweet action shots captured on film:The water was very clear and warm but a slight chilled breeze had us out quickly. As it wasn’t a campsite, this served as our daily shower too boot. We packed up Bumblebee, said our fair wells and thank yous and drove off, bound for Greece and what would be a three day drive for Croatia.