Peace At Last

Trip Start Nov 05, 2010
Trip End Mar 27, 2013

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Flag of Turkey  , Turkish Aegean Coast,
Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting around Turkey is a breeze. No need to make any plans, no worries. Just pick a chapter in the guide book that sounds exciting and be on your way! Every town has an otogar (a bus station in Turkish) that is served very well by feeder minibuses. Unlike other countries, where a bus station is a chaotic, dirty or even a dangerous place, otogars are very well organized. Many companies compete for business and provide frequent service to major destinations. The desk staff is helpful even though most speak limited English and we could go anywhere we wanted. Reservations are not common, the Turks are a spontaneous bunch. When on-board, refreshments and drinking water are plentiful. One thing to notice, while water is given out for free, passengers are charged on the way out, since all toilets are staffed and overpriced. Needless to say, doing it "the Indian Way" is indecent in Turkey. 

Enough about transport. We got off a ferry that took us across the Dardanelles, that separate Europe from Asia. Back to Asia, where we spent most of the past year. The town is small and has a similar layout to Istanbul or Edirne. Downtown life is centered around a pedestrian street, a mini Istiklal Caddesi where everybody comes to hang out at night. The side streets are full of shops, restaurants and guesthouses. This time we followed LP and dropped by a recommended hotel and managed to get a good price after some bargaining. The eatery downstairs served large portions of rice, eggplant and other vegetables with no trace of meat.  
Canakkale is a place of pilgrimage for many Aussies and Kiwis. That is the site of a famous battle of Gallipoli that claimed half a million casualties on both sides. Ironically, the Allies that included Australia and New Zealand lost that battle. Now they are more than welcome back as they provide the source of livelihood for local people. The surrounding area is all peaceful villages, rolling hills with good view of the straits. It is easy to understand how important the straits are strategically. The tanker traffic was continuous and large ships traversed the waterway in both directions all day and all night. 

While the collection of trophy cannons from the battle was impressive, the main reason we came to town was seeing the ruins of Troy, a short minibus ride away. When entering the archaeological site we faced the Trojan horse. Sasha climbed into its belly so Dasha could take pictures. It was claustrophobic. He was happy he did not have to share that space with twenty other warriors. 

When walking around we learned that there were nine cities at the same site over the course of several millenia. Homer's Troy was Troy VI. Unfortunately, the initial excavations caused extensive damage to artifacts and it is impossible to establish whether the city of Priam and Hector ever existed as described in the Iliad. We could see pottery from a much older period. "The wind brought wealth to Troy" - an inscription stated in multiple languages. The reason being the location of the ancient city. It was right at the entrance to the Dardanelles. Before the ancients learned to sail against the wind they needed to wait for a while for favorable conditions. Troy was the place where the sailors waited and spent their money. No wonder there was no shortage of invaders eager to pillage the treasures of that city state. 

We were standing at the city walls looking at fields below. The seashore was visible at the distance where the ships of the Achaeans were docked. Homer clearly exaggerated that the Greek Army brought a hundred thousand warriors with them. The field was too small. Sasha imagined Achilles slaying Hector in the field just below. As a child he has been reading many times over the Iliad, abridged, adapted and translated. He was dreaded the pages that describe that duel. He did not Hector to die. He wished he would live a long life with his wife and son. 

After thousands of years of fighting, people finally live happily in that part of the world. 


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