Gallipoli Trip – Day 1
When the club offered the opportunity to visit the Gallipoli I couldn’t have jumped at the chance any quicker. It's a privilege to play on ANZAC Day every year for our football club, our fans and in particular as players. And with 2015 commemorating 100 years since the landing at Gallipoli, the opportunity to visit ANZAC Cove and the surrounding battlefields to pay tribute to our diggers was an experience that I wasn’t going to miss.
I did some reading prior to the trip to make sure I had enough background information about the history of Gallipoli and what to expect when we got there but in the end nothing could have prepared me for what we were about to see.
It was a long journey. A 15 hour flight to Abu Dhabi, a three hour stopover and then a five hour flight to Istanbul. The flight path from Abu Dhabi to Istanbul took us over Iran, Iraq and Syria. Out the window, the rugged snow capped mountains and baron desert terrain stretched as far as the eye could see.
Landing in Istanbul, we made our way to the hotel to freshen up and go for a wonder around the old city before dinner. Istanbul is an amazing city. It effectively splits Europe and Asia and is a melting pot of cultures and real mix between the east and the west in every sense, religion included.
We walked the cobbled streets and took in the unique architecture of the old city buildings. Our first stop was the former Christian church, then Islamic mosque, and now museum, Hagia Sofia. An incredible building. Then we visited the famous Blue Mosque. A place of worship for Turkish Muslims and an impressive landmark towering high above the city walls. As we were wearing shorts, we were required to put sheets around our waist to cover up our bare legs. A Muslim custom.
We also had an excellent guide/interpreter, Erkal Aykac, or as he quickly became known to us, Uncle Erkle. He took us on a cruise across the Bosphorous River that night and we had a beautiful dinner on the water.
Although Jobe likes to think he is an intrepid traveller, the jet lag hit him hard and on the way to dinner, he fell asleep on the boat!
It was tempting to head out later and check out the night life in down town Istanbul but with an early start the next morning, we decided to pack it in and get some sleep.
The next day, we would get our first taste of the Gallipoli peninsula.