On the 24th we met up with our tour group and drank ciders in the lovely sunshine (it has been freezing) and had some shisha (clarification - it is NOT a drug. It is a flavoured water pipe). Our bus trip took around 7 hours and we ended up getting off the bus at 2am. I didn't sleep at all but I was on a high when I arrived at Gallipoli. Elyse and I found a little patch of grass close to the front so we joined the sea of sleeping bags. We were perched next to a lovely teacher from Western Australia that had high school students with him. He shared his mats with us so that we didn't get wet. I couldn't sleep here either as I wanted to watch the documentaries and go and meet up with Greg (Brendon's uncle). I borrowed a Turkish phone from someone and ended up finding him amongst the thousands of people. It was so lovely to see him. He is in the NZ Police force and was asked to come over on behalf of NZ; quite an honour!
At school I do not remember learning anything about WW1 (or if I did - it went in one ear and out the other). My eyes were wide open the whole time and my mind was ticking. It is really hard to explain how I was feeling. I can tell you that once the service started I had a lump in my throat that would not go away. The cove was packed with thousands of people, yet it was silent and eerie. As the last post was playing and the sun was coming up I could hear the birds chirping, the waves lapping and the wind ever so softly whistling. I was imagining what it was like for the troops that entered the cove and that is when the tears starting rolling. Actually being at the service bought it closer to home.
Once the dawn service was over everyone trekked up to Lone Pine or to the Cunuk Bair. At the Australian service I could not control the emotions. 'You Raise Me Up' came on and again, the lump formed and tears rolled. I think this was one, because of the amazing voices and two, it reminded me of my Pop. The music at the service went straight through me. I couldn't even sing the National Anthem as I was sobbing at how beautifully and proudly the thousands of Australians were singing. Being at the battle fields of our soldiers made me emotionally drained from the tragedy of it all however physically lifted at how lucky we are as Australians and at the bravery and courage of the young men. Again, I cannot explain in words how much of an incredible and mixed experience this was.
As we started to hike up our 1 hour increase I started to complain to Elyse about how steep it was .... and how hot I was .... and how heavy my bag was feeling. Wow did I feel stupid!! How did I think those soldiers felt?!?! With more than what I was carrying, being fired at, not having a gravel road to walk on and sweltering in their uniforms? !? I didn't complain the rest of the way... It was hard though! On our way up to Lone Pine we saw how rough the terrain was, the trenches that the soldiers dug 98 years ago and many many gravestones with loving messages.
The scenery was a huge contrast to what actually happened there. All up it was definitely worth visiting there for Anzac Day and being their at dawn for the service and it was a very moving experience. It was a huge eye opener for me and an experience I will remember always.
At around 2pm we headed back to Istanbul where we checked into hotel and after 41 hours with no sleep.... I crashed out.. Wow, what a day!!
Lest we forget.