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Seeing in Anzac Day at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli is a rite of passage that brings thousands of Antipodeans to Turkey on April 25.

As the sun rises, the last notes of Reveille evaporate and the final prayer is delivered before we sing all three – Turkish, New Zealand and Australian – national anthems. Soon after, the migration to either Lone Pine (for Australians) and Chunuk Bair (for New Zealanders) begins.

Lone Pine Cemetery credit: nejdetduzen

Thanks to the rising heat, it’s an uphill struggle to get to the New Zealand ceremony, but a glance at the old trenches at the side of the road makes sure complaints are never given voice.

What we do hear at Chunuk Bair, however, is Lieutenant Colonel William Malone’s last letter to his wife, written August 5, 1915.

“My desire for life so that I may see and be with you again could not be greater, but I have only done what every man was bound to do in our country’s need.”

The words from the grave soar over the crowd, each an unavoidable spark of pride, honour and love lost. “I am prepared for death and hope that God will have forgiven me all my sins.”

He was killed three days later and remains one of the many New Zealanders with no known grave at Gallipoli.

As the dignitaries tenderly lay wreaths at the foot of the towering memorial, the night’s chill has completely given way to the sun’s relentless scorch.

It’s yet another feat of endurance but, as we are all now fully aware, nothing compared to the suffering, the fear, and the bravery of our predecessors.

Istanbul

Where to start in Istanbul? Turkey’s biggest city is an intoxicating blend of east and west. Majestic mosques stand elegantly against the skyline, while heaving bazaars do serious business below.

(Don’t miss the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, the finest examples of both.)

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul credit: saqibhasan

Topkapi Palace is another must-see, a grand setting for the sultans of the Ottoman Empire, while the Hagia Sophia is yet another picture-perfect sight – once a cathedral, then a mosque, and now a museum.

For the ultimate taste of the exotic east, you have to try a Turkish bath. They won’t be gentle with you – expect to have buckets of water unceremoniously dumped over your head and to be slapped into a furious lather – but it sure feels refreshing. And you’ll get a soothing apple tea to help you relax afterwards.

Then there’s hip Istanbul – the flashy clubs, modern galleries, Oxford Street-esque shopping districts and overtly gay/ lesbian bars.

Still, don’t feel like it’s too touristy and not trendy enough to enjoy a cruise on the Bosphorus and toke on a shisha (or nargileh as they call it in these parts) while watching a whirling dervish. It’s all part of the fun.


 


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