by car to çanakkale
Breakfast was “on the roof” of Hotel Nina. Wall to wall windows opened onto a balcony facing the Blue Mosque, the Bosphorus and the morning sun, which was welcome in the cool morning air. Perfect!
Kenan Çelik, my guide to the Gallipoli battle fields, had said a driver would pick me up at 10:00 am. He appeared on time and loaded my bags into the car, a Fiat of some description that reminded me of our old Mitsubishi Verada. We had been moving barely two minutes when the driver's phone rang. To my surprise he said it was for me. It was Kenan welcoming me to Turkey and checking that everything was all in order. He outlined what would happen today, said the pickup for the ANZAC battlefields would be at 9:00 am tomorrow and assured me that the driver was good. And he was. Unfortunately he had very little English.
The drive out of Istanbul was interesting. I saw not one freestanding house. All were apartments, the small ones being 3 to 6 stories high, possibly walk ups without lifts, and lots of high rises. The latter were reminiscent of a rather shabby version of Hong Kong. About 20 million people live in Istanbul, 75 million in Turkey.
Eventually we left the city behind and were in the countryside which was showing the first signs of spring with budding trees, some being in full blossom. Farmer's fields are small, tilled with small tractors, or in one case a lone woman hacking at the ground with an adze.
The small towns we passed often had individual houses or two story duplexes. Residential construction is typically heavy concrete frame, brick infill with painted render finish. Curiously the ground floor is smaller than the upper floors. Some have verandahs at ground level with corner balconies at upper floors giving a blocky sculptural effect. Sometimes there would be a group of 20 or so identical high rise buildings in a tight group surrounded by 4 to 6 story walk ups all set in a green landscape with no obvious reason for being in that location.
We had a coffee break at noon and lunch at a seafood place in Eceabat at about 2:00 pm. A ferry connects from there to Çanakkale but we went onto Kilitbahir where the ferry connection is more direct. Arrived at Helen Hotel before 3:00 pm.
First priority was to buy a SIM card from Turkcell for TL145 about AU$65.
I then spent several hours enjoying a sunny 21 degree afternoon wandering the harbour side and back streets all of which were alive with locals enjoying the many restaurants, bars and coffee shops. It was a vibrant, relaxed scene.