After yesterdays crowds around the battlefields and cemeteries of Gallipoli we thought today would be quieter. Boy were we wrong. After breakfast in the hotel we stepped out on the street to see bus after bus roaring up the street….great!
Heading south from Eceabat we soon covered the short distance to Kilitbahir. Passing through the village their were lots of buses blocking the roads around the Kilitbahir fortifications. The coastline south of Eceabat was covered in lots of low growing native bush and as we swung inland fields of wheat where everywhere.
At Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery we made our first stop. Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery is the final resting place of 3,300 Commonwealth servicemen of which 2,200 are unidentified. It also has a New Zealand Memorial to the 179 Kiwis who died in the sector and have no known grave.
The thing that struck us most was the calmness of the surrounding area now, standing there knowing the madness and darkness that took the many young lives but to hear birds singing and see the wheat waving in the wind.
We rode to the end of the peninsula through fields of wheat to see The Cape Helles Memorial which overlooks the straits. The memorial was surrounded by lots of buses filled with Turks visiting the Turkish cemeteries nearby. The Cape Helles Memorial records 21,000 British and Indian servicemen who have no known grave and 249 Australians who also shared the same fate. It also has the names of units involved in the Gallipoli Campaign.
It felt a bit strange being the only Australians around Gallipoli with all the bus loads of Turks but on a number of occasions we were welcomed by locals sthe area gets big crowdso they did not seem to see it as odd. We had decided not to visit over ANZAC Day as it would have been to busy, we have now realised this is not the only time the area gets crowds.
We headed back from Cape Helles to Eceabat. On the way back from Cape Helles we hit the reserve tank so were riding on fumes as we limped in to Eceabat in search of fuel. I’d seen the servo previously so I knew I could get fuel there. As it was lunchtime we had lunch at the flashiest restaurant in town, well at least it looked flash. I was to learn that Turks do not cook medium rare steaks. It’s well done or nothing.
Heading back to Anzac Cove we stopped off at the new Peace Park area where Michele laid some flowers into the sea for her Great Grandfather. He’d been injured during the August offensive, died on the hospital and had been buried at sea. We found his name yesterday on the memorial at Lone Pine Cemetery but as he had died at sea there was no grave.
A few Turkish tour buses arrived so we headed back up the hill past Lone Pine Cemetery to The Nek Cemetery. It was here that the Australian 3rd Light Horse attacked the Turkish lines and of the 600 involved 230 lie buried in this cemetery.
Using the map we headed to Chunuk Bair which we totally missed yesterday. Chanuk Bair has the New Zealand Memorial and cemetery. It also has some trenches lined with copper logs, and a giant statue of Attaturk. The area was teaming with people with bus after bus parked end to end for close to 1 km. Near the monument food stalls, souvenir tents were doing a roaring trade. In the cemetery over 630 Kiwis lie and of which only 10 are identified. It just shows how fierce the fighting was. With all the crowds we decided that it was time to go. What a drama trying to get past all of the buses.
Finally we arrived back in Eceabat where we found a nice local restaurant and met a nice local bloke, Baram. We started chatting about all sorts of things, life in Turkey, travelling, plans for the future. When he finished his shift we found another bar to have a drink and keep chatting.
Loud singing got our attention, on the ferry from Çannakale were a crowd of local Beshiktas football supporters. Beshiktas had just won the Turkish league and the fans were celebrating. When the ferry arrived back they got in their cars and did bog laps of the Main Street blowing their horns. We met up with the Beshiktas fans in the park where they were waving their flags, singing their songs and letting off fireworks. We could no resist joining in, it was great fun. After a day of mixed emotions it was time to head back to the hotel.
Tomorrow we head to our last destination in Turkey, Istanbul where we will be couchsurfing.