At the turn of this year it will be 10 years since I began to develop my travel website. My inspiration came from frequent visits to Thailand where I became attached to the idea of maintaining a blog in respect of my travels. While most of the content became relative to Thailand, the four adjoining countries, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Myanmar were also visited as well as Vietnam and Singapore.
However, in the early part of this year I regained contact with an old pal and muted the idea of travelling to an area where we have a shared interest. Accordingly after another lengthy stay in the Far East, a plan was drawn up to visit Turkey with a special focus on Gallipoli and the First World War battles that took place there. One drawback would be that I presumed I would be unable to meet up with my dear girlfriend, Katoon again this year but when the matter was discussed there seemed to be a simple way around this issue. Katoon was eager to visit Turkey also, so would it be possible to divide the trip to accommodate both parties? I then set to work to see if I could come up with a plan. By the summer, a workable solution was found to split the visit into two parts. The first part with my friend Dave, would concentrate on Gallipoli with a transition period in Istanbul to follow. Dave would then return to the UK and Katoon arrive from Bangkok. The second part of my visit, largely driven by Katoon, would concentrate far more on ancient history with a journey from Istanbul, through Ankara into the inner regions of Anatolia where civilisation had existed since the Bronze Age. This would be a remarkable deviation from my visits to the Far East.
As mentioned, an incredible amount of preparatory work is necessary for my trip of more than 3 weeks. As well as the usual matters of booking accommodation, transport etc. I resolve to take best advantage of my time in Gallipoli. This is a huge area to cover from the tragic events of 1915 and in honesty, while I intend to do my very best to record what I find on my website, I should need to accept that my coverage will be not much more than preliminary. The objective as always is to find the right balance between the intensity of the site visits and research with the aspects of relaxation typified by simply ‘being on holiday’.
For months before the trip, arrangements were made, then down to fine tuning in the final weeks and days; the type of clothing I would need, the equipment I should carry and the matters of currency exchange to mention a few. It was becoming abundantly clear that this trip had far more demands than I was used to. However, the prospects that lay ahead would seem to justify the effort and create one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities.
The day before departure there is just one chore left. Normally within 24 hours were able to check-in online with the airline, in this case the Turkish carrier Atlas Global. However later in the day my pal Dave calls me having had problems checking in. When I try, there are similar problems when we reach a certain page on the checking form. Oh well, we’ll just have to do it the hard way but accordingly we decide to to depart in the morning 30 minutes earlier to compensate.
Day 1, Monday 23 September
At 6:30 Dave arrives to start the long haul to Stansted airport. The journey will take more than four hours but despite delays we arrive more or less as expected around 11 am. The first sign there may be any issues today is at the car park where there are a significant number of parking areas. It soon becomes clear that the shuttle buses do not call at every car park. We are eventually instructed to use area E where shuttle buses do depart. Somewhat frustrated by the delay we arrive in the departure building of the airport. At the check-in desk the aforementioned issues results in both of us having to compromise on seating arrangements. We are not able to sit together or have our preferred aisle seats. In fact we are located at the central exit where I’m told I cannot store anything for fear of blocking the exit way. That also includes my shoulder bag with my valuables inside. The selection of our seats also means we are compromised by being the last to be served with a meal. The subsequent meal is therefore cold and there is no beer left. Accepting these irritations, The aircraft finally departs albeit 30 minutes late.
Upon arrival at the new International airport in Istanbul immigration and baggage claim are straightforward enough but now there are a number of jobs to complete. These include purchasing a SIM card and obtaining some local currency. However, I’m unable to locate an ATM machine and when I try to purchase a SIM card, the cost is simply ridiculous. Worse is to follow as we cannot locate our point for collection of our hier car (there is someone supposed to be waiting in the arrivals area). We begin to make enquiries and seem to be passed from pillar to post but calls are made to the contact and we are told to proceed to the departure area on the transport level to pick up the car. All of this has caused substantial delay. Most significantly I will be blind finding our accommodation for the night. Based on only a rough idea of where the accommodation is, I make my way towards Istanbul inevitably taking wrong turns. However once on the carriageway we make some progress but then find ourselves in a densely packed suburb of Istanbul and frequently have to stop to ask for directions. This difficult process takes ages. Finally Dave manages to find someone who agrees to sit with us till we locate our accommodation. The crazy process ends close to midnight by which time the gates are locked and we have to call for assistance to enter.
At Selahaddin Eyyubi Uygulama Oteli the accommodation is pleasant enough and spacious but we are both shattered I need to get some sleep. Totally compromised by the day's events I just know sleep will be difficult and worrying as in the morning we have a long trip to the Gallipoli peninsular with problems yet to solve. Next Page.