Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Istanbul/Gallipoli weekend

You’ve got to love living in a place where you can hit Istanbul for the weekend… Well, it was a three day weekend and a bit extravagant at about $250 round trip for the 2 ½ hour flight, but…

Turkey again, wow—third time in a year for us, and fourth time in Istanbul ever. We love Turkey, love traveling here. This time it is short—only two days, one for Istanbul and one to visit Gallipoli, scene of  the senseless slaughter of tens of thousands of Turks, Australians, New Zealanders, Brits and French during WW I.

It makes for a very long day trip from Istanbul.  On the way we stop at a rest area catering to tourists. Staff in the gift shop speak some English, German and Japanese.

The trip was particularly moving for our Australian friend Nicole
Poorly planned and coordinated, Gallipoli was ignored by politicians (notably Winston Churchill) in favor of the Western front, and plagued by bad luck as well.  The area has been made into a national park. It remains a symbol of the vain quest to overpower and control.

This lists the dead in one cemetery whose names were known; most there were buried anonymously

Tom showing a trench
Poignancies: statue to the Turkish soldier (see photo) who, after listening to the cries of a wounded British soldier, stuck in the no-man’s land between the trench lines, raised a white flag, ventured out, picked up the man and carried him to the enemy’s trenches.


Among our small tour group was a Japanese family.  Do they think of Hiroshima, I wonder? Nagasaki?

And another monument bears the words of Mustafa Kamal, who bravely led the Turkish troops and who later, as Ataturk, father of the country,  so generously praised both the dead from both sides of the conflict: 

“Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives . . .. you are
now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the
Johnnies and the Mehmets
to us where they lie side by side here
in this country of ours. You . . the mothers,
who sent their sons from
faraway countries, wipe away your
tears. Your sons are now lying in
our bosom and are at peace.
After having lost their lives in this land,
They have become our sons as well.

Kemal Ataturk


Then a day in Istanbul, showing our friends the sights of Sultanahmet. Here is Tom at Aya Sofia (left), which we never tire of seeing—an amazing house of worship, dedicated in 360 (no digit missing there) and with a ceiling/roof so high and broad that the architectural feat could not be repeated for 1000 years. 

And a glimpse of the Grand Bazaar.



And of the Blue Mosque. 

As we fly out, I am treated to a great view of the Bosphorus and ships lined up in the Sea of Marmara (having, presumably, passed by Gallipoli—through the Dardanelles—from the Aegean Sea) end waiting to go through.