**Guest Post by Brodie of Aussie In Wanderlust**
G’day I’m Brodie. I’m an Aussie bloke who has been traveling and working about for the past few years but it hasn’t always been like that. I grew up in the forgotten state of Australia called Tasmania. I was pretty settled down there and like most typical blokes I was happiest when outside fishing, camping or playing Australian Rules Football (AFL). I left school at 16 and got an apprenticeship as a Refrigeration Mechanic where I stayed working until I was 23. In 2012 I got the chance to play AFL in Darwin Australia some 5000 kilometers away via a 4-day drive and a 12-hour ferry ride from where I had spent the first 23 years of my life living. It was from here I realised my love for travelling, living and working in new places.
Since this life-changing trip in 2012 I have lived and worked in remote Queensland in the mines, in London as a teacher assistant and now been approved a new working visa in Ireland. While working and living in these places I also take every chance I can get to travel and explore new countries and cultures. I have visited over 30 countries now throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe and look forward to growing this list further in the short and long-term future.
Throughout my website and blogs at www.aussieinwanderlust.com I hope to allow you to join me in some of these fantastic travel trips and inspire you to possibly do something similar. I will pass on as many handy hints as I can as well as share my overall experiences of each different place I visit.
ANZAC Day – Remembering the Fallen
In April 2017 I got the chance to do something I had wanted to do ever since I was young. I remember discovering about the Australian and New Zealand soldiers that had sacrificed so much for others they never knew way back in high (secondary) school and have always wanted to visit the site where the famous ANZAC battle had taken place. April 2017 was the year I got to make this dream a reality after I booked a tour with G Adventures.
I was living in London at the time into my last year of a 2-year working visa and had a close friend from school also living there. We decided it was time to pay our respects to the fallen “diggers” and looked into tours to be able to do this. The one that stood out to us was with G Adventures to attend the ANZAC dawn service and sleep out in ANZAC cove just as the fallen had done so many years ago.
We had separate flights to get to Istanbul and for some ridiculous reason, we decided the night before our early morning flights we would go out and enjoy a few beers at a London pub. As you have probably guessed a few beers turned into whiskey and before we knew it our phone alarms (4am) were going off in the nightclub and it was the scheduled time for my mate to be waking up and making the trek to Heathrow airport.
We quickly return back to my apartment, he grabs his bags and he gets on his way via the tube line. Luckily my flight was scheduled for 11am not 7 like his so I got to enjoy a quick couple of hours sleep before needing to make the same trip to the airport.
When I arrive at the airport I notice my flight is nowhere to be seen on the flight screens, I quickly make my way to the check-in desk and show them my flight number and booking. Unfortunately, my flight had been canceled and I was actually scheduled to fly on the same flight as my mate had just flown on. As I had not received any notification of the flight being canceled I was placed on the next available flight and didn’t lose much time at all.
Once I arrived in Istanbul I made my way to the hotel where the tour was scheduled to start the next day. I again met up with my mate and we decided it was time to try some of the local cuisine. Of course, we were both very excited to try all the amazing meats and the famous Turkish doner kebabs. We found a place we liked the look of and ordered a mixture of dishes to share. The meat was spiced beautifully and was some of the most tender I could remember eating.
Once full and satisfied we left and went for a stroll through some of the streets and began to get a feel for life in Istanbul. We talked to a few shop owners who spoke very good English and they informed us how much the city was struggling with the low tourist numbers of recent years taking its toll. It was sad to hear as since we had arrived the local people had been nothing but friendly and helpful.
Before heading to bed that evening we finished the night off by sampling some of the local Turkish delights and accidentally left the store with far too much. When we got back to our hotel there was a flyer on the reception desk giving us all the information we needed to make sure we were on time for the tour to start and meet our guides in the morning.
The next morning after a very comfortable sleep we were again up early and headed to the dining area for the included breakfast in the hotel. It was a very nice spread and we made sure we took advantage of all that was on offer including the meats, cheeses and other fresh produce.
After breakfast, we checked out of our room and headed down to the hotel reception at 7.30am. We got introduced to our leaders and other travel members on the trip, loaded our bags into the minivan and then hit the road to begin our 6-hour drive to ANZAC Cove. The drive itself went very quickly, we were all busy getting to know each other on the trip and talking away to one and other. On the way, the guide reminded us of the battle that took place in ANZAC Cove and the history and significance of the area.
When we arrived it was one of the most surreal feelings I had ever encountered. The whole group went quiet and it was like you could feel the energy and stories of the place as you realised you were standing in the exact place such an important battle had taken place so many years ago. It was a very moving experience and as I found out later it was just the beginning.
While having the afternoon to explore Lone Pine and surrounding areas we got to read over private grave sites and visit the war cemeteries. This is where it really hit home just how many soldiers had lost their lives and how young so many of them were. There were camera crews from Australian TV stations there and both my friend and myself even managed to score an interview on WIN TV that was broadcast back home in Australia.
After the emotion of the afternoon, we got back in the minibus and headed to Canakkale where we were spending the night. This was a much quicker drive which included catching a ferry with the minivan. As we departed the ferry we were advised we were now on the Asia side of Turkey. The guides took us out for dinner at a lovely typical Turkish restaurant and one of them even brought his Mum out for tea with us as this was his hometown. It was a very nice touch and made the evening feel very personal. We enjoyed seafood and meat dishes that were delicious. After dinner, the guides took us to one of their favourite pubs and we enjoyed some local beers and a bit of social time engaging with the group.
The next morning we had another fantastic breakfast at the hotel and then headed off to visit the town of Troy. We learnt more about this ancient site and got to explore some of the ruins that were still there. After that we headed back and had the chance to wander the town of Canakkale for a few hours.
The town itself is a nice town and the locals were amazingly friendly. I visited the horse statue of Troy that was used in the famous movie. I also got the chance to enjoy another Turkish kebab and it was just what I needed after enjoying 1 to many of those local beers with the guides the night before.
As evening got closer we checked out of our hotel and boarded the minivan again to head back to ANZAC cove where we were scheduled to spend the night in sleeping bags under the stars and wake to the morning memorial service at the exact spot the soldiers had landed in 1915. The security was high as you would suspect, the terror threat level had been raised to high and tourists were being advised to cancel trips to the service. As a result visitor numbers were down a little to previous years but plenty had still turned out to pay their respects.
The night was quite cold and very little sleep was possible but it was to be expected and you kept reminding yourself that this was nothing compared to what the “diggers” went through. They showed video clips of interviews and stories as well as footage of the war throughout the night. Once morning came around we were woken to the last post playing and the realisation that at this very moment so many years ago a bloodbath was about to begin. The service was moving and afterwards we enjoyed a nice hot coffee to try and warm ourselves up. We then started the climb from the shore to the hills on our way to Lone Pine.
When climbing our way up along the pathway it was then that we discovered that all during the night while we were down on the shoreline, there had been sniper soldiers up in the hills in case a security breach was to of occurred. Again this was another interesting feeling seeing them come out from the thick scrub. Once we attended the Lone Pine service and the Turkish Service we returned to our transport and back to Istanbul.
While this is not a trip with the amazing beach scenery or the beautiful cities, although Istanbul and Canakkale certainly have their own amazing charm. It was a very special trip for me and one I’m sure I will remember for many years to come. It was amazing to see the passion and understanding both countries now have towards each other. They work very hard together to ensure that this part of history is equally remembered and paid respect too.
The trip itself was run very smoothly and the whole time we were able to enjoy and appreciate exactly where we were in the world while the guides looked after everything. Any question a member of the group had was answered and the passion they had for their country was lovely to see. I would highly recommend this tour and G Adventures to anyone wishing to visit Turkey or attend the ANZAC service.
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