Monday 29th June
Approx distance ridden today – 150km.
Karen and I had a pleasant breakfast at our Gune Hotel (I had Nutella on the freshest of breads whilst Karen had the traditional village breakfast featuring olives, cheeses and salamis), and then we went for a walk around the nearby markets to see the market life. It was fascinating watching the fruit and vegetable merchants hand-polishing each and every tomatoe with a cloth. We went to buy some bananas and cherries from the kind man who’d given is some bananas yesterday afternoon and we shared a cup of tea with him, but when we went to pay for our fruit he declined our offered money.
After loading the bike and a final farewell to Aladdin and the fruit seller – we’d given Aladdin our growing collection of loose change in the hope he may be inspired to travel or maybe just collect coins – we headed back to the D550 and south toward Gallipoli.
As it was approaching lunchtime I turned west off the main road and headed down a bumpy backroad to a coastal fishing & holiday village, and we pulled up at a little shady restaurant overlooking the beach. We got chatting to two young couples on holiday from their jobs in Istanbul – they are heading towards Greece, both of the guys ride bikes, and one guy said that the GSA is his dream bike, so we had a lot to chat about. Karen and I shared a delicious lunch of roast chicken and salad – the vegetables in the salads here in Turkey are so fresh it’s as if they have just been picked, and as we started to gear up to leave the young couples walked over and insisted on a round of photos with the bike.
After heading further down the main D550 towards Eceabat and a couple of false starts we found our way west, heading out to Anzac Cove. Without a detailed map and unable to read the Turkish signs it wasn’t easy to find our way there.
We stopped first at an area where I could see some large maps and informative panels, and from there I could get my bearings. We remounted and rode slowly up the coast to Anzac Cove – a narrow strip of beach that looks so peaceful. A bit further up the coast we stopped at the large comemorative site and read the placards there. We’d been leap-frogging one of the many tour coaches a few times and the coach driver gave me a large scale fold-out map of the area – a thoughtful gesture and one really appreciated.
I was quite surprised by the number of tourists and tour coaches – it appears to be a booming industry. The coaches and coach drivers were all local but they sported some Australian names – Crowded House Tours, RSL Tours, True Blue Tours etc – marketing for a purpose I guess.
We rode up to Lone Pine Cemetary, and had a contemplative walk around. One grave was marked with the inscription “He has changed his faded coat of brown for a shawl of white.” This soldier was 20 years old.
Karen was a bit incensed that no Australian flags were flying anywhere – the only Australian flag we saw was inside the memorial tomb at Lone Pine, and this was a contrast to the war graves and memorials we had seen France and Belgium as they were flying German flags alongside their own flags.
We continued along the one-way road and stopped at a memorial featuring a gigantic Turkish soldier, and we had a welcome drink of cold water from one of the stalls nearby as we were cooking in the hot afternoon sun.
We bade farewell to Anzac Cove and headed back to the eastern side of the peninsula. Low on fuel I headed south to Eceabat, then suggested that we stay there for the night, rather than ride north as I’d originally intended. We cruised slowly through the dusty town and arrived at the ferry port, overlooked by the Grand Eceabat Hotel.
Karen arranged a room for the night and secure parking for the bike, and then after a shower and change of clothes we walked around the block and then along the beachfront, which was all restaurants and souvenir shops. Some of the restaurants had quite tacky names I thought – I wouldn’t dine at ‘Restaurant 1915’ on the simple principle of things.
Across the road and overlooking the beach was a chilling sculpture – a life size replica of the trenches, with statues of Turkish and Anzac troops facing off against each other just metres away. Next to this huge sculpture, complete with bomb casings, was a large diorama of the peninsula, showing the location of the battlefields, cemeteries, and resting places of ships sunk off the coast. Overlooking these two features was a massive sculpture of perhaps a dozen Turkish soldiers, towering up and over the dioramas, and busts of the Turkish military leaders who led the defence. Turkish military pride runs deep around here, judging by the signs we’ve seen. At the same time, it was humbling to see the number of Australians and New Zealanders who have made the pilgrimage to Anzac Cove, and their pride was no less palpable.