04 October 2003 Saturday - Australian WWI Memorial/Istanbul - 45 Photos

Today, we got up very early and caught the ferry across the Aegean then drove to a very famous site of a battle from World War I. We visited the battlefield where more than a hundred thousand Australian soldiers died battling the Turkish armies. It was eerie walking in the same trenches where men fought for their lives.

There are several memorials there and a big memorial called the Lone Pine.

The memorial

was near the sea, and it was beautiful.

We spoke to people from Australia who talked about it being a very emotional thing for them, and they cried. Apparently, war was very different in World War I. During the day, the men would shoot at each other. At night, they would smoke cigarettes together, then crawl back to their trenches before dawn. One of the memorials has a statue of a lone Turkish soldier who calmly and bravely carried a wounded Australian captain back to the Australian trench, then walked back to his own Turkish trench.

Then we drove a long way until we got back to Istanbul. The saddest part about the drive to Istanbul is that we saw prostitutes on the freeway offering "quickies" to truckers for a nominal fee of fifteen dollars.

After we checked in to the hotel, we bad a fond farewell to Mete (and his tip!). He was a really fun guy, always aware of his tourists' needs, very courteous and very helpful. We only found one word of English that he didn't know, and that was the word "riot." Of course, there were American colloquialisms that I'm sure he didn't know, but we didn't expect him to. For example, when we saw someone fixing a flat tire, we'd say, "Bummer!"

Mete went above and beyond the call of duty, driving us around, catering to our every need, and acting like our personal slave. Because of the outstanding quality of his service, we tipped him well. Maybe he'll buy himself a box of bullets.

When we first met him, he talked about buying a special set of binoculars with special German optics, but they cost more than $1500. By the time we said goodbye, he had borrowed and used our Nicon 8-24 by 25 zoom binoculars many times and had grown to like them. We considered giving him one of our binoculars as part of our trip, but neither of us remembered how much we paid, since we bought them a couple of years ago.

After we settled into our room, we walked to the Archaeology museum and spent a couple of hours seeing the antiquities. The bad thing about the museum was that more than half of the exhibits were closed, and that was very disappointing, but at least the tickets were cheap. It had some weird artifacts, like a carving of animals that were obviously the product of a woman who had an affair with a griffin!

The coolest exhibit was the "Alexander" tomb, which isn't really the tomb of Alexander the Great, it was a different important guy, but the tomb was fantastically decorated, painted and well preserved. The figures seemed to almost be alive, and exquisitely beautiful.

Another cool item I saw was "the oldest love poem" which was written in ancient cuneiform.

Next, we walked back to the Grand Bazaar, and this time, I was more in the mood to shop. I found a vendor who was selling beautiful boxes. They were so beautiful, I took a picture of his shop.