Anzac Day 2011 and Wondrous Turkey…

Travelling to Gallipoli for ANZAC Day has always been a dream of mine since childhood. It returns our family to the place where my Great Grandad faced the most difficult time of his life in the fight for peace. He never spoke about it on his return to New Zealand but it was with him for the rest of his life.

To be at Gallipoli for ANZAC Day and particularly to experience that moment was something I don’t think can ever be topped. It was so beautiful and peaceful; it was hard to believe that 97 years ago it was full of war and bombing. Words can’t describe the feelings of pride, sadness and admiration that you feel for the people who served there. I’ve never in my whole life felt so proud to be a kiwi.

Our tour group was extremely keen to get a good spot for the dawn service and thanks to our experienced tour guide and our awesome bus driver we were one of the first buses to arrive which we were all stoked about!  Once we were let in, we secured our spot and got all settled in for the long exciting night ahead of us. As the day got dark it was incredible looking around and seeing a blanket of people all over the grass wrapped up in their sleeping bags. The countdown till the dawn service was really moving, throughout the whole night they had bands playing, the Gallipoli movie, documentaries and messages from home. It was so surreal finally being there. The two minute silence and the playing of the last post was the most tear jerking moment for me. Listening to the peaceful sound of the water washing into shore while imagining what happened 97 years ago was an incredible memory that will last with me forever.

I admit that my NZ history of WW1 was not amazing, but the great thing about the Travel Talk tour was that we got to head back to Gallipoli the following day after ANZAC service. This was definitely one of the highlights of the tour because we were able to spend the day going around the sights and memorials without the huge crowds. We got the chance to walk along reading headstones that expressed parent’s mourning for their sons as young as 14 who left on a great adventure and never came back.  Our tour guide took us around and explained the history of each place, the stories he told I will never forget, his knowledge was amazing.

My main purpose of my visit to Turkey was to head to Gallipoli for ANZAC Day, but after spending 10 days travelling around Turkey, I now realize how much history and natural beauty Turkey has to offer and would definitely recommend everyone putting Turkey at the top of their ‘To Do List’.

At the beginning of the Travel Talk tour you get to enjoy an amazing cruise along the Bosphorus then carry on to an impressive welcome party which is held in one of the most untouched historical ruins in the heart of Istanbul – this place is incredible and a great way to meet fellow travel buddies!

I could go on forever but won’t, so here are some highlights of the tour:

Cappadocia – one breath-taking place! You also get the option to do a hot air balloon ride which is something I highly recommend; the view up there is unbelievable. It doesn’t even finish there, once we landed back on solid ground, we were greeted with a glass of champagne, best start to any day! Here you also get to experience the underground city, one of the very oldest! Walking through the path of Anatolia’s old inhabitants carved in the soft ground and stone, embracing their history is a wonderful feeling. In addition to these we also paid a visit to a Turkish bath and enjoyed a traditional Turkish night, all uniquely amazing.

Pamukkale – Once you enter the natural sites of Pamukkale, it seems as though you enter a pool made of snow all around you. Being the only example in world, as our guide continued on explaining how they were all formed and how they are so wondrous, I was still stunned by the view. Travertine are surely one of the many things one must see. Pamukkale also hosts many hot springs and thermal pools to chill out and relax after a long day of sightseeing.

Ephesus – getting the chance to walk around the best preserved ancient town and learning all about its history.

Gallipoli – the whole experience plus heading back the following day and being able to walk around without the crowds. These places are all totally different to one another, but all so incredible for their own reasons.

Accommodation – also one of the best things about doing a tour with Travel Talk, all the places we stayed in were incredible.

I highly recommend the 10 Day Travel Talk Tour – you get to visit such stunning places, stay in some amazing accommodation, meet some wicked people and get a greater understanding of Turkey from the most awesome, not to mention very knowledgeable local tour guide (which I think definitely makes a tour); a great journey everyone should experience!

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