Cities / Towns Visited: 16
Countries Visited: 7
Steps Taken Today: 19,059
Steps Taken Around the World: 769,928
We awoke at a reasonable hour for the first time in a few days, and wandered downstairs for a very Turkish, free hotel breakfast: bread (slightly stale), tomato, cucumber, feta, lukewarm feta and spinach filled pastries, some sort of soggy egg pastry, orange juice that tasted of cordial, and the only saving grace in the somewhat disappointing spread, Turkish tea. It certainly wasn’t anything to write home about, but it got the job done.
Once we’d consumed all we could stomach, we gathered in our group and hopped on the bus for the days only structured activity, a visit to the ruins of Troy. ‘Now try not to get your hopes up’, our guide warned, it’s not like you’ve seen in the movies, there are no handsome scantily clad Trojan’s stealing away beautiful women, it is really more of an archaeological site. Our guide may have talked it down, but we love historic ruins, and have rather vivid imaginations, so we were raring to go. The first thing you are directed towards is a rather crude replica of what they think the famous Trojan horse may have looked like. One look at it and you have to just wonder why anyone would think it a good idea to wheel it inside the gates, but I guess you had to be there; in a time where they believed fervently in the gods, and thought it to be a gift from above, not a trap from across the seas.
Onwards we walked, our guide explaining the ruins, how they were built in many stages over many centuries, and how what started as one house, and grew to be a great thriving city around the fortress who’s ruins we were wandering, rich on the taxes of those who wished to pass through the trade routes and across the Dardanelles. The bases of the stone walls still stand strong, along with a few cisterns, large decorative roof stones, broken pillars, and the massive ramp which led up to the front gate. Our guide seemed to be unsure as to why they would have built a ramp, to which most of us were happy to point out that they would have to have had a way to take carts of goods, and the giant horse, into the fortress. Wheels aren’t great on stairs. The site could definitely do with a few more information boards, and perhaps a few models of the different stages of the city’s construction, to help you better visualise the layout, but all in all, if you have any measure of imagination its not too much of a stretch. Unfortunately, as it custom with tours, they have a tendency to hurry you along, and in all we were only given around 45 minutes to explore, whereas I could easily have spend a couple of hours.
We returned, once more, to Canakkale, where we were given eight hours of free time, as we wouldn’t be able to catch the bus to head to the dawn service site until 8:30pm. On arriving, the three of us headed into town to find some lunch, ending up at a small kebab shop, where we had beef shish kebab and kofta. Far more delicious and affordable than the previous nights seafood foray.
Full and happy we meandered towards the waterfront to visit the Trojan horse used in the film. This one was, unsurprisingly, much more aesthetically pleasing, but unlikely to be anything like the original; all sleek lines and intentional roughness. Beside it stood a model of Troy, but it had little signage to explain which of the many versions of the city it was, and it seemed to be lacking elements we had seen at the actual site such as one of the watchtowers, and the ramp. We ended up having to refer to the satellite image on google maps to even orientate which side the Dardanelles were on.
With the sun beating down, and the temperature rising we were easily temped into one of the nearby ice cream store, and quickly inhaled a refreshing and delicious trio of flavours each. Showing great self restraint, we left without ordering the menu in its entirety and continued on. We winded our way towards a fortress we had spotted on the ferry ride in, hoping to explore its historical ramparts, but as we neared we were faced with high walls, razor wire, and a few rather ominous looking signs stamped with a image of a machine gun toting guard and a sharp warning to keep out. It seems the fortress is home to a naval base, and so we headed back to the hotel. By a great stroke of luck, or planning, we were allowed to continue to use our rooms until our departure for Gallipoli, so we decided it was advisable to try and catch a little shut eye before our likely sleepless night on the cold, hard ground of ANZAC Cove.
After a brief but much needed kip, we ventured out once more for a quick bite to eat for dinner. Which was, you guessed it, more kebabs, but also coupled with a Turkish Pizza, and chips. Content, we swung past a convenience store to purchase a few snacks for the long night ahead, before heading back to the hotel, grabbing our luggage, and heading down to the foyer. We quickly checked out, hopped on the bus, crossed back into Europe on the ferry and shuttled off to the main event of our tour. As we arrived at the cove we joined the uncomfortably long line of minibuses and coaches waiting to pass through security; it was going to be a long wait. Now the saga of that I shall leave to the next blog.
As we sat in the cramped bus, unsure as to whether we would be happier squished into our seats but warm, purely due the powers of combined body heat; or stretching our legs outside, but rugged up in jackets and beanies, my thoughts wandered back to Troy. The town is such an enigma, and most of our knowledge is based purely on the works of Homer’s ‘Iliad’, how much of it is factual, we will never know. If time travel was possible, most people dream of going to the future, to see where they, and the human race in general, end up; all the things we will achieve. But me, I would go back, not to my own past, but to the ancient pasts of civilisations come and gone, just to see how it really was. We’re they really tricked by a giant wooden horse? Was Achilles really taken down through his tendon? Was this whole debacle really over the love of a woman? We always write history in a positive light, it is written by the victors, and they write out their ills so that we may we may see then through rose coloured glasses. Just as these blogs will skip over much of the pain and stress of our travels, so that we may hope to forget the worst and highlight the best; so that when we’re grey and old we may look back and smile. How, though, shall we learn from the past if we ignore and redact all that would teach us to improve? Are we destined to repeat it because we simply do not know it has occurred previously? It is truly beneficial to let bygones be bygones to the point of erasure, or should we stick to the old adage of ‘forgiven, not forgotten’?