Çanakkale is the city closest to the historic sites of Troy and Gallipoli and we absolutely had to see Gallipoli while we were travelling through Turkey. We were hosted by Couchsurfer Tugca and her friend Mithat, who showed us the best Iskender restaurant, and had time to chill out with us at Mega Beach and tell us about their lives and study plans and dreams of working for Google. It was completely last minute so we were really thankful, as we were making our itinerary up as we went along and had an crazy LONG (something like 16hrs) bus trip from Cappadoccia in Central Turkey, through Istanbul and onto Canukkale. Tugca and Mithat were so welcoming, we were taken to have tea down at the waters edge late one night, then went on to find the late night district down some back alleys to a games room where we drank ‘soda’ and played backgammon.
Troy was about 40 minutes out of Canakkale, out in the countryside with nothing else around it apart from arid farm land, so we walked to the dolmus station under a bridge to get a minivan to Truva (Troy). We’d heard some reviews of what Troy would be like, a lot of them saying that they didn’t enjoy it there or that it was a waste of time, but I was still keen to see the ruins that were there, even if it wasn’t much. Because of our low expectation though, we really enjoyed it and found it interesting and well signed. The ruins were not preserved well as there was a bad excavation in the 1800’s so a lot was just rubble and you had to use your imagination. It was cool to see the 9 stages of the walls and how they built over each city as the years went by. Troy I was first built around 3000BC so it’s probably the oldest ruins i’ve ever seen.
We left the site, and walked up the road trying to hitch out of Troy. Took us about 10 minutes of walking, and a lot of tractors went by with loads of tomatoes, or corn, but then a really slow car came past and picked us up. Iksan was the driver, he was driving slow to get petrol from out on the main road. We jumped in, and he took us to the petrol station with him. He spoke little english but enough for us to have a conversation with him about his restaurant in Troy, and his tomato farm, and his friend from Singapore. He wouldn’t let us go because he was having such a nice time chatting to us so we sat at the petrol station drinking turkish tea. Then another older local man joined us and we all sat around drinking tea. We took photos, and promised to send them to him at his restaurant. We were invited to join him and stay at his campground, eat at his restaurant and work for him if we’d like to come back one day. He said he’d even drive us to a lovely beach nearby Troy called Yenikoy Beach. We got his details and said our goodbyes. Walked onto the highway and only a couple of minutes passed and we were picked up by a big truck. Taken a couple of minutes up the road and dropped off again. Next, only a couple minutes later again, a 40ish year old man Esat Elmer picked us up and took us all the way to Canakkale central. He was nice, but no english. Gave us his business card and a copy of the magazine he worked for, Domestic Life. It’s so interesting who you meet on the road.
Some of our days in Canukkale we just wandered around. It isn’t a big city, but there was plenty to keep us interested. The local markets were bustling and the fresh produce was amazing! We walked through town, took some back roads and ended up in a neighbourhood that had the road ripped up and dirt and dust all around. There were lots of locals sitting on the street, children playing and people selling veges out front. Not a tourist in sight. Everyone was staring at us as we walked through, i’m sure they were wondering how we ended up in that neighbourhood… presumably lost. I just wish I had the courage to take more photographs as there were so many opportunities but i didn’t want to stick a camera in their face, so we just smiled and said hello and kept walking. Eventually we found our way out, and walked to the beach to sit and have a beer and watch the sun set from Mega Beach.
The day we’d booked to go on a tour of Gallipoli was beautiful and sunny. We had to get the ferry over to Eceabat and had a couple of hours to spare before the tour started so walked through the back streets where some local markets were on. Lots of produce, fresh and locally grown. It looked good! We bought nuts and sultanas, then decided to pick up the veges we needed to cook for Tugca and Mithat that night. Most stalls gave us veges for free as we were only buying one of this and that. Was so cheap it wasn’t worth paying. Tried buying herbs but didn’t know what we wanted, but got something that would work with italian. By the time we had what we needed our tour was schedule to leave. We drove out to the site of Gallipoli, not too far away and first stopped at a war atifacts museum. It was a private collection so not huge, but interesting. Then had an expaination from the guide about what happened and why it started. Our guide was very good, a totally honest view of both the Turkish and other nations recount of WW1. We visited North beach, where the ANZACs landed and saw the landscape in which they climbed mountains. It amazes me how the soldiers did it, we were just standing there, on the ground where the Aussie soldiers landed and turned around to see that ridge they climbed. No wonder there was not much hope. It was overwhelming. We continued onto ANZAC cove, where we saw the soldiers graves, then on to beach cemetery, then drove up to the higher points of the Neck, Cannuick Bair. We also saw the trenches that were left and underground tunnels. It was incredibly interesting and sad at the same time. All that history we’ve learned in school was now visualised. INFORMATION OVERLOAD!