If you’ve been reading along for a few weeks now, you’ll know that Turkey is actually the most important stop for us and the whole reason we are doing this trip. As mentioned in this post, my husband and I were allocated 2 places to attend the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Landings. It was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles in WWI and approx 10,000 ANZACs were killed at the site. 100 years later and I’m expecting the occasion to be very emotional as well as surreal.
We’ve received our passes and a couple of booklets to read before we go.
To get to the Gallipoli Peninsula for the ANZAC Day Dawn Service (held at ANZAC Cove) you have to go with a tour company. I believe that at any other time of the year you are able to go by any means. This being the case I looked around for tour companies doing the trip for 2015.
We decided to go with Top Deck Travel. It’s classed as a 5 day tour, however we only have 3 full days with the tour group. We arrive in Istanbul on the Wednesday lunchtime and are due to join our tour at our hotel that afternoon. We are again using Sun Transfers for our transfers and are keen to see how this goes. The hotel which the Tour has booked for the group is Hotel Vincenza. It’s received mixed reviews on Trip Advisor, so I’m keeping an open mind about this one.
All up our tour is costing $732 AUD each. From the information I’ve got about the tour it seems like a great deal as we get some great inclusions. On the Wednesday afternoon we have a meet and greet, trip briefing and then drinks at a local bar (pretty sure we will have to buy our own drinks). The Thursday offers a walking tour of the city (including some iconic spots like the Blue Mosque, Aya Sophia and the Grand Bazaar) and a cruise on the Bosphorus Strait. Friday sees us hop in a bus out to the Gallipoli Peninsula.
We should arrive at the peninsula sometime in the early afternoon and then have to wait for the actual site of the commemorations to open. Since it’s the 100th Anniversary we will be going through numerous security checks and will have to have out passes with us at all times.
I should tell you though from the time we hop off our bus on the Friday, we will not be hopping back on again until the early afternoon of Saturday. Yes that’s right, we are sleeping under the stars. Because of this we will all be carrying with us enough clothing to survive in quite possibly 0° (celsius) overnight. I have planned to take several layers of clothing for overnight, but then also have shorts and t-shirt/singlet for after the dawn service.
Once the dawn service is finished everyone heads to one of two other commemorative services. The Australians will head to a place called Lone Pine (about 3km’s from the dawn service area) and the New Zealander’s (which is hubby and me) will continue another 3.5kms past Lone Pine to arrive at Chunuk Bair. The reason for shorts and t-shirt is because it can reach temperatures of up to 20° (celsius) during the day and there’s no way I’m walking 6.5km’s in leggings with track-pants over top and 3 layers on my top half.
After we’ve had our NZ service at Chunuk Bair we then queue up and wait for our bus to come get us, before the 5 hour drive back to Istanbul. We will go back to the same hotel that we stayed in before (and probably go out cold once our heads hit the pillows) and then on Sunday morning we say goodbye to our tour group, as that is the end of the tour.
We’ve never done any group tours, so we are definitely looking forward to meeting some new people and sharing a once in a lifetime event with them.
Have you ever been on a group tour? Do you enjoy them or do you prefer to do your own thing?