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Turkey (Anzac 2004)

25 April 2004

Staff

We arrived in Istanbul and transferred to our hotel ready for our Anzac Tour to start the following morning.   Lots of sightseeing, first up we visited the hippodrome which was the centre of Byzantium life for 1000 years and of Ottoman life for another 400 years.   Next we visited the famous Blue Mosque so called after the Iznik tiles which line the walls.  Finally we visited the SPICE BAZAAR famous for its many spice shops and the Grand Bazaar.

After leaving Istanbul we made our way to Gallipoli.  We drove through beautiful country side and little seaside villages popular with holiday makers on our way to Anzac Cove where our soldiers landed on 25th April 1915.  We camped out that night on ANZAC Cove under the stars.  They had a military band playing and we watched short movies/stories on the war.  With not much sleep it was time for the dawn service.  We walked to Sharepnel Valley Cemetery so peaceful and pretty and drove up to the highest point where there is a statue of Ataturk and the New Zealand monument for the Memorial Service.

We then left Gallipoli and headed for our overnight stop at Kusadasi.  Off to visit Ephesus the Roman capital of Asia Minor, population of 250,000. It took 2 hours to walk 1.5 km's.  Saw the Odeon, theatre, Fountain of Trojan, Temple of Hadrian and the Roman toilets. The most impressive was the library which held 12,000 scrolls in niches around the walls.

Leaving Kusadasi behind we made our way to Pamukkale where calcium deposits over thousands of years have created white rock formations and pools in which tourists love to splash and paddle.

We then drove down to Fethiye and boarded a 5 night Gullet Cruise.  Gullet cruising is truly a great way to explore the Turkish coast, I highly recommend this way to travel along the wonderful Turkish Mediterranean, anchoring in new, unspoilt bays every day. In the evenings, we watched the sunset at sea, while the ship’s cook prepared a delicious Turkish dinner over a Raki (the national drink).

Back on the road, it was time to start exploring the region of Cappadocia, which was once of the Hittite area. This is one of Turkey's most visited tourist areas. We had a visit to Goreme Open Air museum which is situated in the most famous of Cappadocia's valleys.  One of the best ways to see the region was by Hot Air Balloon.

Wherever you go in Turkey, you must experience a Turkish Bath. We relaxed in a room (known as the warm room) that is heated by a continuous flow of hot, dry air allowing the bather to perspire freely.  Bathers may then move to an even hotter room (known as the hot room) before splashing themselves with cold water. After performing a full body wash and receiving a massage, bathers finally retire to the cooling-room for a period of relaxation.

Next morning we left Cappadocia to visit a carpet viewing centre where we learnt how to judge the various qualities of Turkish carpets and kilims. We enjoyed a lovely lunch of apple tea and pide bread.  Last stop, off to Kaymakli to explore the underground city which was occupied around 7th century BC by people. We climbed downstairs and bent in half to go through the tunnels. 

I would recommend the Anzac Day experience at Gallipoli to anyone now I have been. It was such a memorable experience and I am so glad I have been able to pay my respects.  The rest of the trip was such fun – we had a great group and our tour guide was lots of fun whilst ensuring we saw as much of Turkey as we could.  Then to

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