Istanbul 2013-04-21

Day 1:
Arrived at airport at 1830 local time.  Got a taxi to the hotel and tried a little bit of haggling here.  We got the trip for 40TRY (approx 14.40gbp).  When we arrived we noticed that there was a building that had been demolished on the corner of the block.  Rubble across the road and no traffic could get through. There were a few people standing around a huge dump trucks lined the streets.  It looked like a bomb had hit the site!  Not a good impression.  We checked in and dropped bags off at Monaco Hotel and went for a walk to the Sultanahmet District, Istanbul.  Took some amazing photos of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia at night time from the fountain.
Drew tried Burger King - quite different even though they have the same names.

First night - no sleep.  Trucks and machinery going all night clearing/demolishing the rest of the corner site.

Day 2:
Went for a walk to Sultanahmet District, Istanbul.  Most of the building had been cleared away and we couldn't believe how much work they had done!
We went inside the Blue Mosque - amazing building.

Went for a walk towards the water.  Saw a cat chase a dog into oncoming traffic - very funny to watch. Went to look for the "Hippodrome" and found the Hippodrome Hotel instead - lol.

We found some local food along the way back to the hotel.  We got an amazing pita bread for 3TRY (1.10gbp) which had chicken and tomatoes and gherkins and lettuce in it.  Yum!  Such the best food!

Went back to the Hotel to check-in on the tour.  Tour leader - Carl.
Went for drinks at Mitani Cafe,
Akbiyik Cadessi | Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34400, Turkey

Day 3:
Walking tour of the city.
Grand Bazzar (quick visit - no shopping), Blue mosque.  Very quiet tour guide - not very good for 45 people, kept mixing her words up.
Went to the Spice bazaar with Tilly and Stephanie.  Walked along the bridge at İstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri İskelesi (Istanbul Sea Buses Pier).  Walked along the top and then back along the bottom.
Tilly asked a orange juice making man for an orange and he was very confused that someone would just want an orange and not a drink... Very funny with the language barrier.
Went back and met with the group to continue on with the tour.  Turkish Tour guide changed for a new one as the other was not working for our group.  Went into Hagia Sophia.  What an amazing place!  Such a beautiful and detailed building for its time.
Went on to go on the Bosphorus Boat Tour.  Went out and saw a huge pod of dolphins swimming through.  Amazing buildings all along the riverside - very expensive!

After the boat cruise we went with one of the other groups Turkish tour guide to find a blanket and find the spice bazaar.  He was great. Took us up a street with a lot of street stalls and found a thick double polar fleece blanket for 15TRY.  (that's about five pound 40p at current exchange rates!) Super cheap!

We left the others in the middle of the shopping area and went to find the spice bazaar again.  I was in need of some Turkish Delight!  This was our first time haggling for prices and the tags said 18TRY (Turkish Lira).  I was getting some for me and some for another person on the trip so it was two lots of 18 = 36.  Drew did the haggling and he started at two for 20try.  The man scoffed and he said 36.  Drew then went to 25. He replied with 32.  Then Drew said 30 and so we got them slightly cheaper.  Then the guy got talking about his life story in very broken English...  We walked back towards the hotel and found a supermarket and came across what I thought looked like biscuits with chocolate cream in them... turns out when we got back to the hotel it was a coffee cream... hmmmm... need a translator I think!
Back to the hotel for an early night - early start the following day.

Day 4:
Up at 0530 for showers and to finish packing our bags ready to go to Gallipoli.  Breakfast from 6:30-7:30 and then on the coach to go to Gallipoli.
Left the hotel at around 8am and started our long drive.
Stopped twice along the way and saw another massive supermarket.  A very interesting place!  Water here was 1litre for 22kurus which is less than 10pence!  It was so cheap!  The stalls in the town were charging 1 lira for a bottle - they must make a huge profit on it!

We arrived near Gallipoli Peninsula and we were advised that there would be some wait until the gates would be open for the coaches to be allowed up near ANZAC Cove.  We waited in the town of Eceabat and enjoyed what was around the area.  Again we saw a few dolphins swimming in the water and chilling out in the hot sunshine of the day.

We waited here for quite some time and walked the main street for awhile and then went to sit beside the water for awhile.
This is in the town of Eceabat.
War memorial and information about different countries troops.

The town was full of tourists and a lot of children trying to sell trinkets about ANZAC Day and the war.

We left the coach and when we came back most of our group were playing cricket with a small ball and a piece of wood. It was hilarious! Our guide, Carl, was in the middle of it all and there was great fun had my all. Even the local kids had a hit. Good fun.

the town started to buzz as the news came that they were opening the road up ahead to coaches for ANZAC Day. We all raced back into the coach and were getting very excited to finally start the final leg of the journey to the ceremony location.

The coach left pretty quickly and we were in the queue of coaches to get to the site. As we went through the lush greenery in the area the thoughts started to fill my mind about how our soldiers would have been feeling.
I was lost in thought...

The coach came to a slow stop and we were inn a small car park. Carl got onto the loud speaker and advised us that we would need to wait here until further instructions were given. We were only here for a very short time and then we were on the move again.

We came to the final place that we saw the coach and were advised that it was a walk from there. What a view!  It was absolutely beautiful!
The view from the road.

We grabbed our gear off the coach and made our way down the small well-kept road. It was narrow and there were loads of people all heading towards the final resting site.

We kept walking and around the corner we found a huge line of people all waiting. We put our gear in the line and sat on the curbside under the umbrella. We were roasting! A word of warning for all attempting this journey, take warm clothes and cool clothes too!
We all sat around and chatted until the front of the line began to move.
We followed everyone else and began to head towards the airport-like scanners. There was a few lines for males and a few lines for females and bag searches as well. I had dry sacks in my backpack and I opened my back pack and they rummaged around but didn't look inside the dry packs. Not that I was hiding anything, but they just wanted to get through everyone quickly.

I kept my eye on the other people that I was with and we met at the other side and continued our journey.

As we strolled there was silence. Everyone was looking, thinking and feeling a little bit in owe of the scene set out before us. There were grave sites and remembrance sites all the way along the road and we stopped at most of them along the way. 
Amazing to see so many graves and mass graves in one location. It was truely saddening.

We took our time moving towards the main site and noticed that the sun was beginning to set.
We could see the main site and we moved relatively quickly to ensure that we would get a place to lay down for the night. We luckily had the map that Carl had made for us so we knew where things were.
We followed others in our group and then realised there was no space so we found somewhere else to be.
Drew and I in our sleeping area.

We set up the little that we bought and chilled out and watched the sun set.
Such a beautiful sunset
We watched the big screens and drifted in and out of sleep. We didn't get a lot of sleep but that was what it was like for the soldiers so I cannot complain.
The stories of the soldiers and the war kept playing on overnight and there were some very sombre moments.

The moon was bright and lit the area for the whole night. It was freezing! hardly any clouds, stars shining and the moon watching over us I lay there thinking about who else was out the watching down upon us.

The night passed slowly, but not as slowly as the soldiers would have been.

The sun began to rise and everyone was up and awake.
The crowds began to turn and watch the light sneak over the top of the hills behind us.

As we sang the national anthems my heart was in my throat. The thought of so many lives needlessly lost. The lives of so many people gone forever. I sang that anthem so proudly for those men that lost their lives. Then I couldn't speak. We began to follow the others up towards the top of the hills.
 The view over ANZAC Cove 25.04.2013

Paying respect to those remembered in this site.

Wandering back along the road towards the path to lead us up the hill.

I only had my backpack on and a small bag to carry, but it was a long and tiring climb up the track to the top. Beautiful views across the valley out across the ocean were a site that the soldiers may have never seen near the top of that hill.

 The view half way up the hill

The above photo is one of the many grave sites that lead up to the top of the hill. There I met a fellow kiwi who had finally found the site of her great grandfather's grave. This was a very emotional time for her and for all of those around her. A quick hug and photo of his final resting place and we all moved onwards.

We went past the Turkish Memorial and it was absolutely beautiful in the morning light.

 We continued on and saw many things along the way...

I don't know how this got here, but it is here...

A beautiful day with amazing views...
The sun continued to shine that day and made the day more memorable.
The NZ remembrance service was held at the top and was a great service.
These are some of the photos that were taken during the service.

Old school NZ flag. Hand sewn.

One of the trenches near the top of the hills.
What an amazing remembrance day.
If you are wondering if you should ever go to a service in Gallipoli, I would recommend you do. Such a wonderful place yet full of sorrow and  hardship.
Forever will they be in my heart.

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.
Peace be with you always.