As an Australia who was living in London for 12 years it had gotten to the point that I felt like a bit of a disgrace for never having visited Gallipoli. As I was planning to leave London later that year I decided the time had come!
But gosh as a quick trip it is hard to do! It is a good 4-5 hours by car from Istanbul. I was travelling solo so getting a private car was ridiculously expensive – plus I needed a guide once I got there. I then looked at flights from Istanbul to Canakkale – there appeared to be one a day but it was either very late at night or very early in the morning. The day after my visit I was off to Cappadocia so none of that met my time needs.
So I decided to do a day trip from Istanbul – it was a long day but I definitely think if you’re looking to do this relatively quickly vs travelling Turkey at a leisurely pace (which would of course be preferable) I think it is the best option.
I emailed quite a few places and found TJ’s Tours – I of course liked that one of the owners was Australian!
When I arrived at my hotel in Istanbul Empress Zoe the night before there was a confirmation from the tour company which was reassuring when I had a 6am pick up – I’m not keen on getting up early without reason! I was picked up just after 6 and there were several of us in a minibus. We had a stop for breakfast just under 2 hours into the trip which was basic but fine. And importantly there was a clean bathroom.
Then we visited a quite spectacular Turkish war memorial. We then gathered into the town of Eceabat to meet up with others. Our tour guide was brilliant. Extremely knowledgeable. Turned out we had been Peter Jackson’s tour guide when he was in the area! Impressive celebrity association!
The highlights of the trip were ANZAC cove and of course Lone Pine as an Australian. It was very moving to see the graves of all these young boys who were most likely naively expecting the adventure of their lives. Seeing the beach and seeing the landscape brings home how difficult a task was faced. It was a very moving trip and something I think every Australian should do.
Finally we hopped on a much bigger bus for the trip back to Istanbul – which took considerably longer than the trip out as the traffic was bad. I got back to my hotel about 1030pm. So a long day but a great day and so worth doing. The tour company were fantastic and I think it was also excellent value for money.
Going to Turkey? Why not read some of my other posts on Turkey:
Also published on Medium.