The road to Istanbul

After three days of buses and sightseeing all we really wanted to do was hang out on a beach for a day. But through some missteps in arranging hotel accommodations (we booked a night in a town with the same name but hundreds of miles away) and following our Lonely Planet guide instead of our instincts, we ended up in a work-a-day seaside town called Avylik (pron. EYE-va-LEEK) where there was no close beach and not a whole lot to do.

Ayvalik

Ayvalik

We ran opposite ends of the spectrum on foods while there. The town is known for their “Tost”, actually a sandwich with toasted bread. We found a little place on a narrow alley in the old part of town called Tost Evi (translation: House of Tost) and had two packed toasted sandwiches (mine was salami, Cindy’s was chicken) a soda and a mineral water for less than $4! That evening, we ate in a touristy restaurant on the water and had a tasty, though modestly portioned meal including a shared stuffed mussels appetizer, a glass of wine and two orders of fried calamari for a whopping $45. (Yes, it’s cheap by US standards, but this is Turkey!)

I don’t know exactly why but I really enjoy getting haircuts when I travel. Perhaps it’s part of the adventure of seeing how things turn out. I got an awesome haircut for less than $8.

For the first time, as we tried to get bus tickets out of Avaylik , we heard the Turks version of “You can’t get there from here”. We were non-plussed being faced with the logistical problem of getting to Canakkale where we planned to tour Gallipoli. We stopped into 4 or 5 bus company offices until we finally got to one that did offer the service, though, at an extremely high price of 30 TL (about $16) each for a 3 hour ride. (For comparison, a 4 hour bus ride from Fethiye to Pamukkale costs 15TL, or $7.75).

The next day the bus road past several seaside towns north of the Bay of Edremit where there were tons of hotels on the water and people frolicking in the deep blue Aegean Sea. Yeah, that was what we wanted, but we were passing them by as we were moving on with reservations ahead.

On the road to Canakkale

On the road to Canakkale

Canakkale and the Gallipoli penisula are on opposite sides of the Dardanelles, a straight which straddles the Europe and Asian continents and serves as gateway to Istanbul. The battle of Gallipoli holds significant importance to people from Australia and New Zealand and as is often viewed as the beginning of their national consciousness’. They were called ANZACs, an acronym for The Australia-New Zealand Army Corps. The campaign is known to the Turks as the Battle of Canakkale.

Trench warfare at Gallipoli, 1915.

Trench warfare at Gallipoli, 1915.

Bucolic pastures on the south side of the peninsula of Gallipoli gave way to high pine mountain forests that sit over the coast. It’s ironic that such a beautiful place could have hosted such violent and deadly action.

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