Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Turkey food, a dinner and some reflections

This will be my final blog about my Turkey trip and I hope you have enjoyed them. Here are some more food photos that I took with my cell phone camera.

Eggplant under yoghurt.

I ordered fish expecting it to be grilled but this appeared. You don't win them all. However, the fish was good.

The Imam Fainted, presumably from the amount of olive oil used in making the dish. The recipe is here and I will make it when decent looking eggplant appears again at the supermarket.

It was on the menu at the restaurant at Egridir so I asked for it. The chef came over and told me that he could cook it but his wife's version was much better and she would cook it the following night for me. The Germans joined me in ordering the dish and it was really good.

In the background is a bowl of ezme which is often served as a part of a meze. It became my favourite and here is a recipe.

Yoghurt and cucumber with some ezme in the background.

In Cappadocia I sat down at the restaurant at lunch to have a beer after returning from the Open Air Museum. I think he was the owner or he knew the owner well and he sat down to talk to me. people are just so friendly in Turkey.

Opening the clay pot with the lamb stew at Cappadocia.

Some meaty mix.

The default meal when you can't find anything else available is pide, basically a Turkish pizza.

Skewers of lamb at the restaurant across the road from my hotel in Ankara. A short while after I took the photo the waiter presented me with another bunch of skewers.

Just one of the three tables of breakfast items at the Ankara hotel.

View from a quiet restaurant near my hotel in Istanbul. It was very peaceful up there watching other tourists wander by looking at the restaurant menus.

The pide at this restaurant. Sometimes I was just not feeling all that hungry but I knew I had to eat so this was easy on the stomach and inexpensive. The following night I ate in a more expensive restaurant closer to the hotel and talked for a while to four blokes from Birmingham in England. They lived in Sutton Coldfield where we did a house exchange two years ago. I suspect they had been enjoying more than a few beers for several hours.

It has been good to come home and have the usual wide variety of foods that most of us enjoy. However I was not as tired of Turkish food as I was of Asian food when I got to Sydney last year. I suppose Turkish food is so Mediterranean in style that it is not a big change from my regular diet.

I was waiting patiently in my tour bus seat at Gallipoli waiting for the bus to leave to return to Istanbul. Suddenly a late 20's lady sat down next to me and as the bus set off, we introduced ourselves. She was a Kiwi travelling by herself and I suspect she needed a bit of conversation which tends to happen when you travel by yourself most of the time. We talked about what we had seen in Turkey until the greasy spoon interlude and she fell asleep for most of the rest of the journey back to Instanbul. Since we were both by ourselves, we arranged to meet for dinner the following evening near Sirkeci Station. There was a possibility that she might have a friend with her who she thought might have arrived in Istanbul that day. I turned up at 6 pm and the friend turned out to be a male back packer from Melbourne who was in his early twenties who she had met at a hostel in Antalya. We ate at a little outdoor restaurant in a lane by the station. The point of all of this story is that I ordered a beer.

Several minutes later, the waiter appeared with a copper mug and said 'your cappuccino, Sir'. We all protested that I had not ordered coffee. He pointed to the liquid and said 'taste'. The froth was hiding the cold beer underneath. His restaurant was not allowed to serve alcohol, but there were ways around that restriction. I enjoyed several more cappuccinos before heading off to my hotel at 8 pm since I had to be catch a shuttle to the airport the next morning at 3:30.

Her best story was about going to a Hamam by herself. She ordered the full treatment and duly did the sauna and got the washing, foaming and rubbing with the coarse mitt. If you remember my description of my Turkish Bath, after the mitt, you wrap a towel around yourself and sit around for quite a while to cool down and relax until it is time for your massage. Her attendants up until then had been female and she was horrified to see that the room she was to wait in was full of old Turkish men, all in their towels. She was a good looking young lady and I expect the men have been turning up every day since hoping that she might reappear. Poems and songs have probably been composed in her honour. A female eventually rescued her and gave her the massage.

It was fun to remember what it was like 40 years ago to be a back packer wandering about seeing new sights and meeting new people from all over the world. There may be better communications and more gadgets these days but young back packers are still the same. I wonder if in 40 years those two will remember a dinner with an old codger in Istanbul that was a lot of fun. Probably not, but I hope they will still be travelling in 2055. 

Turkey was wonderful. I enjoyed it so much more than I expected and I hope to get back there sometime. However there are always new places to explore while I can. Now to decide where to go next year.


April 25, 2015 was the 100 year anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers at what became known as Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula. This was the reason why I decided to go to Turkey. Tickets for the Memorial Service were in high demand and lotteries were conducted in Australia and New Zealand to select the few who could attend. I knew that I had no chance but decided that at least I could go there a few weeks after the big event.

The mayor of Maryborough where I grew up was Bob Hunter. He was at Gallipoli and every year just prior to the anniversary he would come round to the schools and tell the story. Later in life I realized that he was not looking at us but he was back in Turkey looking up at the hills and reliving what happened there. Back in 1980, Marianne and I visited the D Day beaches and all along the cliffs, you would see old men just standing there at their spot looking out, remembering. Those of us who have never heard shots fired in anger, need to realize how lucky we are.

I booked a day tour of Gallipoli from Istanbul. It is not inexpensive at approximately $100 but as an Aussie, there was no question that I needed to do it.

I was standing outside my hotel at the appointed time of 6:30 am and everything was quiet. The tour bus goes around and picks people up from their hotels and it was about 6:50 when the bus actually arrived. It was close to full but I had two seats to myself.

Interesting building.

The traffic was not too bad on the way out of Istanbul and eventually we were out in the countryside.

It's a long ride down and then in the evening you have to come back. 

We stopped at a restaurant to have the typical Turkish breakfast.

The bus was big enough to be comfortable but it was not a full size bus.

The road goes close to the western side of the Gallipoli peninsula so here is the Mediterranean.

The rear door is handy for getting everybody out of the bus quickly. 

The Dardanelles Strait.

Arriving at Eceabat which is a port is on the other side of the peninsula from Anzac Cove. A lot of tourists take a ferry across the strait from Canakkale which is near Troy.

We were all given lunch which is part of the tour. The food was not memorable but I could get a beer to wash it down with.

Looking north along the Dardanelles Strait.

We got back on the bus with a guide called Bill and were driven across the peninsula to the western side where Bill gave us an introduction to the Gallipoli campaign. If you are not familiar with it, reading the Wiki article will be very helpful. 

The first thing Bill told us was that back in 1915, there were no trees because the locals had cut them all down for construction or firewood over the centuries.

This was supposed to be where the Australian and New Zealand soldiers were supposed to land.

Inland from the proposed landing point. It would have been easy to get ashore and regroup.

Instead, the small boats were swept north about a mile  and what should have been an easy landing became something totally different. 

The soldiers would be faced with steep hills and a narrow area by the sea to establish themselves. Remember, there were no trees to provide cover at the time.

A couple of tour groups looking at maps and being given the lay of the land by the guides.

The island of  Imbros a few miles off the coast. It became a staging post for the Anzacs. The orange colour in the water comes from some sea creature.

Beach Cemetery is at the southern end of Anzac Cove.

Where the marker is.

Australian kids are all taught about Simpson and his donkey. He was an Englishman and used a donkey to carry wounded back to the shore for treatment.

We spent some time wandering around looking at the grave stones. The relatives must have been given an opportunity to have something special inscribed but most did not. This one appealed to me.

The pill boxes actually come from WWII.

All of the graves are immaculately kept.

Back into the bus for a few hundred yards.

The center of the beach where they landed.

Looking north.

Looking south. 

The beach. I picked up a pebble and it has joined my collection.

The stands used at the Anzac Day commemoration on April 25 were still being dismantled. In the background is the distinctive formation known as the Sphinx. 

Supposedly this spit at the southern end was the point where the first soldiers landed.

The first soldier ashore was a Lieutenant Duncan Chapman who came from Maryborough QLD where I grew up. A statue of him was unveiled on Anzac Day. He was killed at Pozieres the following year.

However, the family of a Joseph Stratford claim that he was first.

Does it matter who was first? You had to be incredibly brave to struggle up these hills under a hail of bullets and that is what they did.

To give you some idea of how high those hills were.

Back in 1915, there were no trees.  

From what I read in the news, it was not a pleasant experience for the lottery ticket winners sitting all night waiting for the Dawn Service. It would also have been quite cold. 

Stretcher bearers.

The reason why the Anzacs did not succeed was quite simple. The Turkish soldiers were led by a Lieutenant Colonel  Mustafa Kemal Attaturk who made decisions without bothering to refer to superiors in Istanbul and led the soldiers brilliantly. He was a hero after the war, became President of the country and introduced secularism. He is revered in Turkey and even the Australians have a memorial to him in Canberra.

He is reputed to have written this in 1934 to the Australian and New Zealand mothers of the dead.

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours... You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well. 

We all took a short break including the bus drivers and guides. Bill is on the right. He was an excellent guide and his English was good. He certainly knew his stuff. He does two tours a day every day which has to get old after a while, but it is a job.

A vendor in a van was selling ice creams and doing a brisk trade even if the price was double the normal. It was getting quite warm and the ice cream was welcome.

Turkish statue of a Turkish soldier carrying a wounded Australian.

The bus climbed a hill and we came to Lone Pine Cemetery. This tree is supposedly a descendant of the original pine tree that was a distinguishing feature back in 1915. If you read the Wiki article, it states that the tree is not the correct species to be a descendant.

The cemetery was established during the campaign but was enlarged after the war to accommodate bodies from other cemeteries.

This is the standard inscription.

Stands set up for another Anzac Day ceremony.

Many of the soldiers have no grave. They are remembered by inscriptions on panels like this.

Harold Carseldine was part of the Carseldine family from which I am also a descendant. A suburb in northern Brisbane is named after the family.

I am a little puzzled why his body was not buried but I suspect that the shrapnel wound and passing peacefully away was not the correct story but we shall never know. The courage required to go out on to the battlefield with no protection except a stretcher must have been immense.

The youngest Australian soldier at Gallipoli was James Martin. He was 14 at the time of his death. many boys lied about their age and joined up. It was all to be a lot of fun and adventure.

The wall with the #67 panel. 

Inside. There are several books where you can write your name and comments.

View south down the coast.

The top of the stands provided a good vantage point.

Looking east to the Dardanelles.

There is a Perry there.

We got back in the bus and were driven to one of the areas where former trenches can be identified. These are Aussie trenches.

The trenches have mostly filled in over the past 100 years.

View north to Suvla Bay where the British landed.

The top of the Sphinx.

Suvla Bay. The landing and subsequent battles went badly for the British largely because of totally incompetent leadership by the English General in charge.

Just across the road from the Australian trenches are the Turkish trenches.

The area was known as Johnston's Folly

More graves.

The New Zealanders also played a major part in the story of Gallipoli. Chunuk Bair was the high ground in the area and consequently a major objective. The Kiwis actually managed to capture it but were subsequently driven out by Turkish soldiers. It has become the principle memorial for the Turkish people. 

Chunuk Bair is at the top right. It is less than two miles from Anzac Cove.

Turkish memorial. There were hundreds of Turkish people visiting and I think this is the only part they visit. The beaches are left to the Australians and Kiwis. Our guide told us that we were fortunate to be at Gallipoli during the week. On weekends, the Turks visit in large numbers and it is difficult to get around because of the large number of buses.

Steps down to a memorial for the Turkish soldiers.

Their names are inscribed on these long plaques. There are over 10,000 names.

372 Australian soldiers lost their lives in this area barely larger than a tennis court called the Nek. Whatever could go wrong did go wrong, The bombardment from Navy guns stopped seven minutes early and the Aussies waited until the appointed time to attack to coordinate with a separate attack by New Zealanders who were held up. In those seven minutes, the Turks had plenty of time to emerge from their shelters and be ready to repulse the attack.

The first wave of troops were massacred but unfortunately the officer in charge mistakenly thought that some troops had been successful and continued to send in extra waves of soldiers who were mown down.

The reason for the seven minutes delay was simple. Watches for the artillery and the soldiers had not been synchronized. The battle was depicted at the conclusion of Peter Weir's film Gallipoli.

View from the Nek to Suvla Bay.  

The New Zealand monument to the left. Attaturk on the right.

View from Chunuk Bair across to the Dardanelles. Truly the high ground.

The Kiwis had attacked up this ridge.

The New Zealand memorial with the names of those who died.

Lieutenant Colonel Malone led the NZ attack was killed by friendly fire when Allied artillery fired on the Kiwi soldiers.

I was surprised to see a separate plaque for the Maori soldiers.

We got back on to the bus and headed back to Istanbul where we arrived about 10:30 pm. There was a stop for food at a greasy spoon restaurant at a petrol station that reminded me of similar places on the highway from Sydney to Melbourne. I just bought an ice cream.

I was really glad to make the trip. Other than the sadness at so many lives being wasted on both sides, my main feeling was amazement at how small an area was involved. The following maps from Google Earth are from roughly the same height and the yellow line is a bit less than two miles long.



Chesapeake Isle where I live.