Selcuk, Bergama and Gallipoli
Aaaaaaaaaaand we’re back. After a seriously long hiatus I’ve decided I’d better pull my finger out and get up to date with these posts. So here’s a start.
After Pamukkale we spent a few days in Bodrum and realised it wasn’t our scene – it’s a total resortsville and the hassle from restauranteurs and shop owners is a little unbearable. So we hit the road to Selcuk where we met up with our old mate Kathryn (A.K.A. Lynchie, Lynch Dog, Lynch Diggity, Lynchenzo or Drunky McDrunk). By this stage we were pretty much sick to death of seeing ancient ruins but we sucked it up and visited a bunch in the area including Ephesus and the Acropolis in Bergama. Ephesus was crazy, we rolled out there very early and there were already hundreds of people there which didn’t give us a great first impression. Luckily the ruins themselves are absolutely sensational so we had a ball with it anyway.
So Selcuk and Bergama were pretty fun in plenty of ways – as always we ate great food, saw some new stuff, swam at yet another stunning beach and caught up with a friend via excess booze. There was only one real downside, it was the beginning of the fabled Turkey belly that would result in many moments of self reflection over the coming week or two.
The highlight of this bit of the trip was without a doubt getting the chance to visit Gallipoli and ANZAC Cove. As kids we all (at least here in Australia) learnt the stories of bravery and hardship endured by the ANZACs during the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War but as you can expect you don’t get a real appreciation for the whole thing until you visit ANZAC cove. It’s a really special place to get to and forces you to take a good hard look at yourself and think about how good you’ve got it. It’s certainly on par with the US war memorial in Normandy in that respect. Whether reading the inscriptions on headstones or looking back over the Sphinx from Lone Pine, there’s plenty of time to take a moment and remember the sacrifices made in those hills.
There’s a strange, mutual respect or understanding between Aussies and Turks when it comes to Gallipoli. It feels like it’s something that began during the war and has just naturally flowed down through the generations. I was asked a few times when making idle conversation with a few Turkish guys why we were even there during WWI and it’s a hard one to answer really. Obviously the end game was to allow the Brits/Frenchies take control of the Dardanelles and eventually capture Istanbul (then Constantinople) but there’s still a circle of confusion surrounding our involvement beyond simply supporting the goals of allies. The amazing thing is that there’s no obvious animosity surrounding the war whatsoever to the point where you almost feel a bit connected to the Turkish people as a result of the war. Anyway, it’s hard to describe so make of that what you will.
The Naval museum at Canakkule is definitely worth a visit as well, even if it’s pretty one sided in glorifying the heroism of the Turks and good old Ataturk while attempting to portray the lifestyle of the ANZACs during the Gallipoli campaign as jovial and luxurious. Obviously that’s not the case. One thing that shouldn’t be missed in the museum is two bullets (well the projectiles anyway) that collided mid-air and basically melted together, it’s there to show just how many rounds were fired, there’s a photo of this bit below. There’s a spiel there saying the odds of that happening were in the order of 160 million to on, who knows how they came up with that number, sixty percent of statistics are made up, but either way it’s pretty speccy. Unfortunately, I saw this part of the exhibit at about 20km/h as I bolted past to find the John after old Turkey belly reared its evil, spiteful head. You’d think there’d be a toilet somewhere at an old Naval base but it turns out there’s bugger all and potential spray painters are required to scour the streets of the old town for any form of reprieve. If you do one thing today write this down: When taking a dump at a a dodgy squatter at the back of a mosque BYO toilet paper, end note.