Post 54: Turkey Part 1
Greece had been as I'd expected and in a way, something of a disappointment. The beaches, the camping and the Retsina had been amazing, but apart from the Priest, ... the locals seemed to have very little time for these 'ragtag' bikers from England. Perhaps we're becoming immune to the changes in geography and crave more exposure to the changes in culture, .. perhaps these 'Tourists' are becoming 'Travelers' at long last, ... perhaps the adventure is about to begin.
Entering Turkey is easy, Insurance is £3 for one month and the visa purchased at the border is £10 for three months, .... no 'unofficial taxes', .... and we're moving ever closer to Asia. Once over the border we head for the Gallipoli Peninsula and the memorials to those who lost their lives in the Great War (1915). The temperature is rising, 34 degrees and it's only midday, ... we find the port of Gallipoli and stop for 'Chai'. Immediately were the centre of attention, kids gather around us and we speak the universal language: 'Beckham?, .... Ronaldo?, ... Chelski?, .... Manchester United?', ... they pose for photos and reduce our supply of 'Poor Circulation' badges, .... but we're out of Greece and interacting with people once more, .... this is why we travel.
South of Gallipoli we turn west at Kilye Cove and head for the memorials at the centre of the peninsula. It's a Sunday, early afternoon and tourist coaches move thousands of locals around the area on the narrow melting road system. We visit Johnston's Jolly, Lone Pine and Quinn's Post memorials where the mood is somber and reflective. Here it is mostly Australian and New Zealand troops that are buried yet their graves and memorials are kept immaculately, ..... excuse the burning midday sun and you could think that your actually back in Ypres or Flanders.
At the Turkish memorials higher in the mountains thousands of families gather and pray, ... they eat food and drink tea on large rugs and blankets that they've brought from home. Unlike the ANZAC memorials, the Turkish counterparts seem to feel more like an area of 'reflective celebration' than as a reminder to the loss of mostly young lives that they are. They're not celebrating war or victory, in fact I think that the Turkish people see the death and destruction that occurred here to have been even less pointless than we do, .... but they seem to celebrate the lives of those family members that ended their short lives here in a way that we would find difficult to accept in Northern France. It's actually very refreshing to experience and possibly lessons can be learned here.
We leave the area understanding what we have seen and learned, ... but unlike Ypres, .... our hearts are not heavy with regret but are filled with a confidence that if people of the world can continue to view such needless destruction in this way, ..... then there is more chance that such conflicts will never be repeated, .... Inshallah.