Friday 16th April 2004
I have just booked a weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon for the 1st/2nd of May
I have to go and get a bag of stuff I left with Enid
and figured that as Stratford-upon-Avon is only an hour away that I would book that too.
I will be staying in a beautiful hostel,
and have booked my ticket to see "Romeo and Juliet" performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on the Saturday night.
Anyway...off to buy my Turkish Lira and US Dollars (I need US$20 for my visa) and to pick up the photos.
Wednesday 21st April 2004----------"Six Months Away Anniversary"
What were you doing on 21 October 2003?
I had packed up all of my stuff and was heading to the airport!
That is six months ago today.
I can't believe that I have been gone that long...it seems like a long time but it has gone so fast....
I am a quarter of the way through my visa and I keep thinking that I have only got 18 months left!!
I need to get my arse into gear and do some more travelling cause there is still so much to see!
Anyway...I can't believe I haven't seen you for six months!
Oh well, time flies when you are having fun I guess!
Wednesday 21st April to Tuesday 27th April 2004
TURKEY ------(main page)
9 A4 pages...sorry!
Here goes my biggest story on my most eventful trip yet!
Hope you like it.
Turkey - Wednesday 21st April ------(simply click on the date to see photos of everything Tanya mentions below)
I went to Earls Court for a drink with Jason who is going to live in a tree house in Turkey with Michelle.
He was doing an ANZAC tour with Karen and then staying on and Michelle was flying in in early May.
They are going to hang around in Turkey for a while and then go and find work on the Greek Islands bet you are glad that isnt me arent you mum?
Anyway, I was really sick and wasnt going to go except it was Jasons last night and I wasnt sure I would see him in Turkey because there would be so many people there.
I went and had dinner and then left.
I got home and showered and changed to make myself feel a bit better.
I had planned to take the last tube to Heathrow which was about 12.45am but I was scared to fall asleep in case I didnt wake up because I was sick so I headed about at about 11.00pm.
I got there and I definitely wasnt alone.
People rocked up and started unfolding yoga mats and sleeping bags and pillows and getting really comfortable - I thought it was quite funny but found myself a spot on the floor too and snoozed.
The only drama was when I needed to go the loo I had to take all the gear with me - by the way I am becoming a very good traveler using my small suitcase to go everywhere - even Turkey for a week.
Turkey - Thursday 22nd April ------(simply click on the date to see photos of everything Tanya mentions below)
Now my travel agent had told me to get there 2.5 hours before the flight which was about 3.30am so I was there in plenty of time.
The check-in counter didnt open until 4.30am so there was no need to be there that early.
When it was my turn I gave them my paperwork which wasnt actually a ticket and they said that I needed my ticket.
The lady said to get it from the Alitalia enquiries counter and it would be there waiting for me.
She did check me in with a window seat and just said to come straight back to her when I had my ticket - that was handy as there was a massive line behind me.
I lined up to the enquiries counter and they said that they didnt have it and that I had to go to the Diamond counter upstairs.
I went to the Diamond Counter and they dont open until 5.00am - NOT HAPPY JAN.
Anyway eventually got my ticket and went back to the check in counter and got my boarding pass.
Then we find out the plane is indefinitely delayed!
Not happy again as about half the plane was making the connection in Milan to Turkey - lots of Aussies around!
It ended up being delayed about an hour and we were told we had been pushed up as there were so many connecting passengers on my flight.
We were given a sanga on the plane and that was about it.
I had a window seat and we flew over the Austrian Alps which were just stunning!
I just peered out the window the whole time.
The views were great.
We got to Milan and had to get our boarding pass for the flight when we got to the gate the lady said Are you from London. We have been waiting for you!
I dont think that we were too late though.
Anyway there was a pack load of Aussies on the plane which was quite amusing but definitely a sign of things to come.
Got to Turkey and got my Visa (yay) and another stamp (yay again).
Got my luggage (which is more than I can say for some people - two boys on my tour lost their luggage - I would have cried) and found my tour guide - Ledge.
He was really nice and friendly.
The only problem was that I had to wait for two hours until the bus was leaving for the hotel - it all seemed quite disorganised.
Fanatics book their tour and then they onward book with Fez Travel in Turkey - who were total crap just keep reading and find out!
Anyway we eventually got to the Hotel Ozmen and checked in
That wasnt quite as great as it seemed either.
The lobby was lovely as was the restaurant but the rooms were being renovated and although mine was fine two other girls had no door on their bathroom.
My room mate was a Kiwi girl and she seemed nice.
She went out for a walk and I had a nap.
It wasnt very relaxing what with the builder banging and the call to prayer transmitted across the city.
Anyway we went to the restaurant and met everyone from the group and got our t-shirts.
I was disappointed in them as I had completed my size on the booking form but it was way too big for me.
And, we didnt get the ticket wallet.
Ledge said that we should have been sent it which was odd as the Fanatics said I would get it in Turkey - more disorganisation!
We walked down to the backpacker district which took about 20 minutes as a bar there was giving us free drinks.
Anyway - we walked past the blue mosque which was just stunning!
I dont think my photos will do it justice but it really was amazing.
Ledge recommended a restaurant and five girls from the tour had dinner there.
It was great - I had Turkish meatballs and they were so yummy.
After dinner we headed for a drink at the bar but I still wasnt feeling very well and was tired too.
I had one beer and then a group of us walked back.
It was fun though and there were heaps of people and they were all in the party mood.
I got back to the hotel and went straight to bed.
A few things about my first time in Istanbul - lots of rubbish everywhere, incredibly small streets, lots of street sellers trying to get you to buy everything from roasted nuts to socks to perfume to hats, and a massive number of stray cats.
Cats are apparently sacred in Turkey and they are everywhere - apparently it isnt a good idea to pat them though which was very hard for me to resist!!
Turkey - Friday 23rd April ------(simply click on the date to see photos of everything Tanya mentions below)
After thinking I would had a nice quiet night it wasnt to be.
The builders had stopped and there was no call to prayer but my room mate brought a boy home.
I woke up about half way through whatever they were doing and then had no chance of getting back to sleep.
After suffering for a while a sat up and checked my phone for the time (4.00am) and had a drink of water (my throat was so sore I could barely swallow) and said Guys, its 4.00am - I am sick and I cant sleep with that noise. Can you please take it somewhere else.
I got no response but there was no more noise!
Anyway after waking up when we I was meant to wake up I first apologised to the roomy for interrupting her but she was very very embarrassed.
I think she was quite drunk and would rather not have done what she did - never mind.
She wasnt on my tour so I only saw her intermittently during the next week.
Then I went for breakfast which wasnt all that great.
I had bread and jam which proved to be my staple for the next week!
We all piled on a bus and drove to the Blue Mosque.
It was just as lovely during the day and the sky was so blue it was still quite chilly though.
We wandered around the Hippodrome where the Egyptian obelisks are and then went into the Blue Mosque.
It was just as lovely inside.
It is still used for prayer and visitors are kept out during that time.
Females must pray out of the sight of the males which is quite funny I think.
The reason is that the men must focus completely on the niche towards Mecca and not be distracted by the female form!
We then went to the Aya Sophia Museum which was just like the Blue Mosque on the outside but was a red colour.
It has been turned into a museum and was being renovated.
There were lots of lovely mosaics in there but I dont think my photos do it justice.
There was a hole in the wall that you put your thumb in and if you can make it got a full 360 degrees your wish will come true.
I think I was concentrating too hard to make a wish but the photos are good anyway!
After the Aya Sophia we had the option of going to the Basilica Cistern.
That was one of my favorite places in Istanbul.
It was quite an eerie place and my photos are a not great but it was lovely.
It was where the water for the Palace was kept.
The water filled right up to the roof and they kept fish in there too which I thought was pretty gross but was told that the reason they kept the fish was that if the fish died they would know that the water was contaminated and someone was trying to kill the Sultan - good thinking.
There was also two carved medusa heads right at the back of the Cistern - they are not sure why they are there because they would have been covered in water most of the time but they were quite cool.
Outside the Cistern was a great house - it was bright yellow and with the blue sky looked great.
I took a photo and as it turns out it was a police station.
I got a great shot of the guard with his great big gun too.
After the Cistern we went to lunch which was included in the tour cost.
It was great - nice starters and then spicy chicken and tomato rice and baklava.
The next stop was the Topkapi Palace.
A few of us skipped that as we wanted to get to the Grand Bazaar and we werent sure that we would have time on our last day.
We arranged a time to meet back for the Bosphorus Cruise and hit the shops!
It was great fun.
It was such a vibrant place it was so busy and colourful.
The stall holders tried every trick in the book to get us to buy.
They were calling out to us Spice Girls, hello Spice Girls.
It was really quite funny.
We expected to get lost so arranged a place to meet in time to get back for the tour.
I ended up on my own but brought a great pair of shoes (I got him down from 15 million to 8 million), some Turkish delight (I got him to one box for 10 million to 4 boxes for 10 million), some finger symbols (2 million), some coin purses (1 for 5 million to 2 for 2 million) and bracelets with the evil eye on then (2 for 2 million).
The evil eye is a good luck charm and protects you from evil spirits.
I got one for me and one for Amanda.
I also got two evil eyes about the size of a 50c piece as I bring a girl from work a present every time I go away and we sit them on our computers.
It was really good fun at the Bazaar and I dont think I even saw half of it.
I was walking along with all of my bags and some guy called out Miss, you have dropped something.
I turned around and looked and he said Not on the ground on my heart!
It was really quite funny.
Not sure what he was selling but he was trying hard!
Then we met back to the Aya Sophia to take the bus to the site for the cruise.
It was a gorgeous day and the boat was full of people from the Fez tours.
I ran into my room mate and a girl who used to work at Capsticks, Trina.
The commentary was quiet hard to hear but it was a lovely cruise.
It was quite cold but the views were stunning.
I took a great photo of an old mosque in front of a new modern bridge which I quite like as it shows the old and the new.
The bridge connects the continent of Europe with the continent of Asia.
Istanbul is the oldest city in the world and is the only city to span two continents.
It is also very very very big.
The cruise took an hour and we didnt even nearly go the whole way up the Bosphorus.
I also took a great shot of an old mosque that was covered in moss.
I really liked it.
We went back to the hotel after a very long day of sightseeing.
We went for dinner to another great restaurant.
I love the Turkish food.
We had an early start in the morning - 5.30am wake up call to get ready to head to Gallipoli.
Turkey - Saturday 24th April ------(simply click on the date to see photos of everything Tanya mentions below)
We got up very very early.
There were more dramas with FEZ as we got a new bus and there were people on our bus that werent even booked with Fanatics - we even had one kiwi with us.
Poor fella we ended up calling him Token (as in token kiwi) most of the time and he was great fun!
Needless to say Ledge was quite pissed as he had no idea about it until we went to get on the bus.
As we were driving through Istanbul the luggage compartment doors flew open and were sticking out like wings.
Despite us yelling the driver kept going and we are so lucky that we didnt take out any cars on the way by as they were so close.
The scenery in the county was so different but it was great to the see the ocean again even if it was far too cold to swim in it!
As we were driving along the highway the luggage doors flew open again and this time bags came out.
The driver took a while to stop again and then had to go back and get the bags.
They were ripped and torn and lucky mine wasnt one of them.
Another good thing was that my bag didnt fall out and it was small enough to fit up in the bus so it rode with me for the rest of the trip!
We eventually got to Eceabat which was our destination.
We drove past the Vegemite Bar to the RSL.
There was also a massive Turkish flag painted on the hill in bright red.
It was a great sight - not real sure what it is for though!
We had lunch at the Eceabat RSL which was quite good.
Chips and sausages and salad and chicken.
We then got back in the bus to go out to the peninsula.
We drove past a nice flat area of beach which was where our boys were supposed to land and then the bus stopped at ANZAC Cove.
It was a really strange feeling being there and there were a few tears.
I ran in to Bob and Jenny, Lee and Laura, and Karen and Jason that day.
They were just wandering around like I was.
Jo from our group climbed down the big cliffs and picked up a bag of rocks from ANZAC Cove.
She gave us all a few each so I have them at home.
The cemeteries were so sad, the soldiers so young and the inscriptions on the grave were sad to read.
Despite the number of people it was really quiet.
We went to the museum which was very interesting.
It was only small but there were letters from soldiers to their families.
There were the photos of three brothers who all died together.
There were old guns and artillery and there was also a shoe with the foot bone still in it!
We went back to the RSL and had dinner.
It was exactly what we had for lunch and stone cold.
I didnt eat the chicken.
It just seemed too dodgy and potentially salmonella filled for me!
More dry bread for me!
Turkey - Sunday 25th April ------(simply click on the date to see photos of everything Tanya mentions below)
At about 11.30pm we all jumped on the bus and headed up to the peninsula.
When the bus parked we had quite a long walk.
We went past so many soldiers with guns (I cant believe I actually got used to seeing them and didnt think twice about it).
We went through a security scan check and we eventually got to the commemorative site.
We found a spot to sit and got our sleeping bags etc out because we were all very cold and very tired (we had been up since 5.30am that morning).
It was quite impossible to sleep but we could just doze.
There was so many people but they played some Aussie/Kiwi rock ie ACDC, Cold Chisel, Crowded House to keep us going.
It was quite fun.
Near to the time that the service was to start the Australian Navy Band started playing and they were awesome.
I ran into Alana (from my old work) in the line to the loos.
I cant believe how many people I had seen.
The flags went up nice and early and then we all got asked to stand up to make room for the 1000 people outside still waiting to get in.
We took this as our chance and ran down the front so we ended up being basically in the second row with a great view.
Then a bag pipe player started and the service began.
I was very pleased to see that even with so many people being there that they were all very quiet.
The Dawn Service was very formal and I did enjoy it.
It was very emotional.
I kept turning around and watching the sun come up behind the hills and getting a view of the ocean behind the speakers.
My photos are quite good I think.
They had a minutes silence and then played the National Anthems and even though we were supposed to sing I couldnt speak a word, I was so choked up.
Standing there listening to the Last Post thinking about what those poor young soldiers had to go through was an very surreal kind of experience.
No one was talking, we were all just there and I dont know really how to explain it but I will always know how I felt.
After the Dawn Service finished we walked up the hill to Lone Pine for the Australian memorial.
It was quite a long walk but there were so many people.
Lone Pine had been set up with grandstands and there was so many people.
I sat with Karen and Jason and Lee for the service.
I saw Stafford on the grandstand and gave him a wave too.
I went into the memorial and signed the visitors book and took some photos.
Then I went back to our spot and Jason and I bunked down for a sleep.
I slept for about an hour and then was woken up as we all had to stand to fit in the rest of the people.
I went to the loo the wait was about an hour so I am glad that I wasnt busting but I knew I should go.
I then went for a walk to try and find Ledge (the yellow hats were a great tool for spotting people) and see what time we had to meet the bus.
I ended up running into Ripper and Peter and Natalie from the Nevern there too.
The service started and me and Lee and Karen stood up on the bottom rung on the grandstand.
I very nearly fell straight back down again when I saw how many people there were.
I was totally dumbfounded.
Anyway you will see that in the photos.
The Australian Ambassador to Turkey is my new favorite politician.
He gave a great speech with started off with Gday! We told you not to come, but I am pleased one of two of you decided to turn up.
The crowd gave a massive cheer because despite the terror warnings from the government it was a record crowd this year.
The service was much more relaxed but still emotional and I did enjoy it more than the Dawn Service.
They played the Last Post and I lost it again, then a minutes silence and the anthems.
I managed to sing a little bit this time but there was still tears!
Me and Lee were pretty much useless!
I also ran into Tamara (my roommate) after the service.
There was a lovely older couple dancing together and they were put up on the big screen and the crowd gave them a great big cheer.
The Australian Navy Band played an impromptu concert after the service.
It was absolutely fantastic.
There was a game up 'two-up' in front of the memorial and everyone was singing and dancing.
Quite strange as we were in a cemetery but it was just perfect.
The band was great and they were having a great time too - they played heaps of ACDC and Cold Chisel and their last song was (I dont know the name of it)j but the chorus is:
We are one, but we are many, and from all the lands of earth we come, we share a dream, and sing with one voice, I am, you are, we are Australian.
The crowd was singing at the top of their voices - me included (yes more tears - even now as I type!).
I know that I am pretty patriotic when it comes to Australia but I how I felt on ANZAC Day at Lone Pine and at ANZAC Cover is really quite beyond words.
I cried a lot but they were good tears.
The bus was supposed to pick us up at about 1.30pm but it didnt get to us until 3.45pm.
There was 9 kilometers of buses lined up (I am not kidding) to drive by and get their passengers.
I sat with Brett and Kylie and Rachael amongst the headstones under the Lone Pine and drank Cola Turka while we waited for the bus.
Brett and I went for a bit of a walk and I saw quite a few old trenches.
I also saw Johnsons Jolly which is quite a well known trench.
I picked up a pine cone from near Lone Pine and I brought that back with me.
I also had my photo taken with a Turkish solder and his big gun.
I said before I was used to seeing them but when I stood next to him I could see straight down the barrel of the gun and that I dont think I could ever get used to!
Anyway when the bus eventually picked us up we headed to the hostel in Cannukkele.
We pulled up at one place and were told that we werent booked there and to go up the road.
When we got up the road we werent booked their either.
It didnt help that our tour guide was drunk and had no idea.
As it turns out we werent booked anywhere but were put up back at the first place!
We got settled in our rooms and went for dinner - once again cold chicken and stone cold chips - I could have cried I was so tired and hungry!
I couldnt even finish my beer and then we headed to the room for a shower and bed.
The thing was, the showers were cold so I didnt have one, I felt so festy but couldnt do a cold shower!
The hostel room had four beds in two rooms and a bathroom.
I was in the front room on my own and Rachel and Kylie in the backroom.
At about 3.30am I woke up to two people coming into our room.
I thought it was Kylie but then the second guy came through and it turns out there were two very big very drunk Turkish guys in my room.
One of them came over and sat on my bed.
Neeedless to say I was terrified and started saying - no, stop, get out, stop, get out, get out etc.
Rachel said that she heard me and at first thought I was talking in my sleep but soon realised that there was some one in there.
As soon as she opened the door from the back room they took off out side (dont worry they didnt touch me) and I heard a male voice say Oi wanker - what do you think youre doing.
As it turns out they had been in the room next door to mine and scared another girl too.
Adam who was in the back room of next door had been woken up and was trying to find them.
When they came out of my room he tackled one of them to the ground but he ended up getting up and running.
I was in my room on my bed crying my eyes out.
I had been so scared and just couldnt believe that on top of cold food, and late buses and no accommodation this was happening too!
Adam came in and tried to calm me down and gave me a big hug and said dont worry mate, I got em, cracked one of them into the concrete, they wont be back, and look I did it in my undies.
At that I turned around and looked at him and cracked up laughing because he was in his red undies and socks!
It was a sight.
He was then named the Undie Achiever for the rest of the tour.
I eventually got back to sleep.
Turkey - Monday 26th April ------(simply click on the date to see photos of everything Tanya mentions below)
We got up and spoke to Ledge about what had happened.
I am not sure if our door was locked or not.
Kylie was last in and I am sure I saw her lock it and she thought she did too.
It turns out that the guys who were in my room were staff but didnt admit it.
They were confronted the next day but denied it and just laughed when we walked off.
We had to stay there again that night so we all took our stuff on the bus instead of leaving it there as we were quite concerned about the fact that our rooms might be raided while we were out.
We got on the bus and went for our sightseeing day.
The first stop was Troy which was very cool.
It is over 3000 years old.
We saw the old city walls and houses and an amphitheatre.
I also picked a poppy which I pressed in my diary to keep as a souvenir of my holiday.
They have a replica of the Trojan horse there and that was quite cool too.
We climbed up in it and took photos.
We then got back in the bus for the drive to Assos and lunch.
Once again lunch was chicken and chips but they had added some kind of weird soup thing and rice and it was at least a bit warmer than stone cold but not much.
We went and sat on the beach that was just stones and the water was freezing.
The drive to Assos was lovely.
The views through the mountains were beautiful.
Assos is a very small town on the side of the hill.
The ruins are right at the very top but there are houses a bit lower down.
We walked up through the small town to the ruins.
It was quite lovely.
At the very top was the Temple of Athena.
We had views out to the Greek Islands.
I couldnt believe how close they were.
At one point in his life Aristotle used to live in Assos.
We walked down the side of the hill through the ancient city walls and then back up through the town.
I passed an old lady making bread in her outside wood fired oven.
And took a photo.
It shows just what this little town was like and they seemed completely oblivious to us lumbering through in our coaches with our cameras!
We then got back on the bus and went around the hill a bit further and came to an amazing amphitheatre.
It had views out to the islands I am not sure how you would have concentrated on the show with those views.
In Hellenistic times the theater just had the views but apparently in Roman times they built a wall so you had to watch the show.
It was a long climb to the top but I got there and I have the evidence to show it (one of my favorite photos of the trip).
We were also quite pleased to see the beer holders in the seats actually not really sure what they were for but we all reckon they were beer holders.
We went back to the hotel after a stop-off for a few brewskys to take back to the hotel.
We got back and had a few drinks and we had a guy in our room this time too.
His name was Brett and he was very very cool - so it was nice to have a boy with us.
Dinner was finally warm it was like a vege stew with rice and bread and it was hot!
The staff had set up a bonfire which we all sat around and Ledge brought two cartons of Effes - the local beer.
The Turks were circling but basically staying on the outskirts and I kept as far away from them as possible.
As the night wore on the staff started to get quite close and a bit too friendly with a few people and they were drinking our beer.
Ledge made the decision that we all move over to the rooms and we sat around outside there.
Ledge told a few of the Turkish guys who followed up to piss off and they basically left us alone.
Turkey - Tuesday 27th April ------(simply click on the date to see photos of everything Tanya mentions below)
We had to get up early and head back to Istanbul as there were a few people on flights that afternoon.
I slept quite a lot of the way back - I was a bit seedy from too many drinks the night before.
On the way back we dropped people off all over the place.
At bus stops and by the ferry etc.
They were just going to make their way down the coast.
I am still not brave enough to head off like that but I reckon I go alright.
Anyway we got back to Istanbul and I checked into the hotel which was different and much nicer than the Ozmen.
It was called The Romance and it was pink.
It was four star and beautiful.
I organized my early wake up call and airport transfer.
I walked to the Bazaar with Ledge and I did some more shopping.
I wasnt there for a long time because I was really really tired and I brought two rings.
One was a silver puzzle ring and one was gold.
The gold one cost me 40 million which is about AUD$40.
I love it though.
I went back to hotel to have a snooze before we all met for a drink to say goodbye on the last night.
I slept right through and woke up at 2.30am.
I set my alarm and snoozed until I had to get up.
I got to the airport right on time only to discover that Alitalia had cancelled every single one of their flights that day due to employee strike action.
It was panic stations but they ended up putting me on a Turkish Airlines flight direct to London.
I had to wait a few hours but it was fine.
I actually ended up flying home with Stafford (see Tower of London) and his mates so I didnt have to wait by myself.
I had a window seat and the seat next to me all to myself and snoozed a bit on the way home too.
I love living on the Piccadilly Line.
No train changes and straight home.
I was very very tired.
Anyway that is Turkey been there done that had a ball even with all the dramas - by the end of the trip if anything went wrong we all just blamed it on Turkey.
I felt so proud to be there, so proud to be Australian (yes Dad) and so lucky to have the chance to do the things that I am doing.