From the ruins of ancient Troy, scene of the legendary battle for the beautiful Helen, to underground labyrinths where whole Hittite cities lived in hiding; from Istanbul, seat of empires, to the craggy cliffs of Gallipoli where nations forged their identities, Turkey is a land steeped in history – and vibrant in culture. We asked Mike and Chris Kernot, who went on our Anzac Tour to Turkey earlier this year, to tell us a bit about what it was like. Here is what they said:
It all started when I saw a small notice in the newspaper advertising an Anzac Tour to Gallipoli. Being an ex-serviceman, this was something I have always wanted to do. A ‘bucket list pilgrimage’ and being the last of the WWI centennial commemorations, I knew we had to go. We were not disappointed!
Standing on the shore at Anzac Cove during the dawn service was a very emotional time. The overnight vigil was a sombre experience, as stories were told of what the soldiers would’ve been doing during the build-up to the invasion. As the actual Anzac service started, a cold wind blew down from off the cliffs, and one could almost imagine the spirits of the dead soldiers coming down from the battlefields to be evacuated. A very solemn time. The walk up to the Chunuk Bair service was not an easy one but it too was not to be missed. Our Gallipoli guide Hasan was very informative and showed us several of the Gallipoli Peninsular battle sites that are largely unknown to most Kiwis, like Cape Helles where 179 New Zealanders are among those buried at Twelve Tree Corpse Cemetery. For me this was the real highlight of our trip – to be standing at such a hallowed place as Gallipoli and on Anzac Day.
This was, however, just the beginning of our tour. Turkey is such a beautiful place with so much history that it will take several trips to see it all; even in Istanbul there is just so much to see and do. And we felt quite safe the whole time.
Compared to Turkey, New Zealand’s history is still in nappies. Visiting places like the ruins of Troy, Pergamom and Ephesus (one of my wife’s highlights) was amazing, and highly recommended. Another activity highly recommended is the balloon flight over the Fairy Chimneys in Goreme, Cappadocia. This had to be a highlight for both of us.
The people were friendly and the guides and hosts Godwit Tours organised for us throughout our trip were incredible. They couldn’t do enough to ensure our holiday went as smoothly as possible and have become good friends.
Would we go back to Turkey? Definitely. Would we go with Godwit Tours? Absolutely! They did a fantastic job.
Godwit Tours arranges hosted tours in Turkey both for the annual Anzac Day commemorative services and during other seasons. If you are interested in touring Turkey and would like to know more details visit our website at www.godwittours.com or call us on 09 927 7611.