As we had a really long day ahead of us, we woke up just before sunrise. We packed our luggage the night before as we were checking out of the hotel. We were all excited and enthusiastic about the road trip and the rich heritage the country had to offer us. But before our road trip began, we first needed to visit the majestic Blue mosque. We did not visit it completely the day before, as it was Friday and hence extremely crowded. As we headed for the Blue mosque I was stunned by the number of tourists that had already made their way to this building of grandeur even though it was so early in the morning. I always thought that the early bird catches the worm, but I was proven wrong. The queue was horrendous. Nonetheless whilst waiting in line, we had an opportunity of chatting to tourists from other countries. I was quite shocked at the level of ignorance and disrespect that many of the tourists had with regards to visiting a place of worship. You would think that a person coming from a first world country would be educated enough to know about other people’s culture and religion. Yet again I was proven wrong.
Many travelers pitched up at the mosque in shorts, sleeveless tops and mini-skirts. Whilst scarves are provided at the entrance of the building to cover up in the case of indecency, I honestly think that a good traveler is one who respects the law and culture of the country. I was quite annoyed with an American woman who told us that her family called her to check up on her. They told her that she needs to be very careful as she is in a Muslim country. Muslim people are uncivilized and anything can happen to her. Of course, I could not simply turn a deaf ear to her statements and so I retaliated. This is what I said to her,
“ My dear, with all due respect, do you see people walking the streets with guns and grenades. Your government, through the media have brainwashed you people into thinking badly about one billion people who follow a religion of peace. You should be more afraid of the American government than worry about innocent Muslims who are content with their daily lives. The west invades other countries, rape those countries of their wealth, minerals and oil due to greed. What business does your government have to poke their noses in the internal affairs of other nations? Do you honestly think the world is so stupid into believing everything your government showcases on television?” The woman stared at me with a stunned look on her face. She then told me that she works for a department within the American government and that she does agree with me wholeheartedly. It was the first time that she actually visited a Muslim country and she was taken aback by the kindness and hospitality displayed by the Turkish nation towards foreigners. She promised to return to the USA and change the mindset of her family and friends towards Muslims people.
Words cannot explain the beauty of the 17th century Blue mosque, a strong reminder of how mighty and powerful the Ottoman Empire must have been. After spending an hour inspecting the architecture of the building, we then headed back to the bus to commence our road trip through Turkey. Our first stop was Tekirdag, a two hour drive from Istanbul. Tekirdag is a small countryside farming community. Most of the meat in Turkey comes from this farming community. At Tekirdag we stopped at a filling station for lunch.W e enjoyed fresh Gosleme’s , a Turkish cheese pancake. After lunch we headed towards Gallipoli. “The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli or the Battle of Çanakkale (Turkish: Çanakkale Savaşı), was a campaign of World War I that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916. The peninsula forms the northern bank of the Dardanelles, a strait that provides a sea route to what was then the Russian Empire, one of the Allied powers during the war. Intending to secure it, Russia's allies Britain and France launched a naval attack followed by an amphibious landing on the peninsula with the eventual aim of capturing the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). The naval attack was repelled and, after eight months' fighting, with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign also failed and the invasion force was withdrawn to Egypt.
The campaign was one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war and a major Allied failure. In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the nation's history: a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. The struggle formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence and the founding of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who first rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli. The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand and the date of the landing, 25 April, is known as "Anzac Day" which is the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in those two countries, surpassing Remembrance Day (Armistice Day).”
After visiting the cemeteries at Gallipoli,and paying our respect to all those soldiers who died during the war, we then headed towards the Eceabat ferry landing. After a twenty minute ride on the ferry, crossing the Dardanelles Straits we found ourselves in the university town, Canakkale. We checked in for an overnight stay at the opulent Kolin hotel. Over the years, the hotel has received numerous awards for service excellence and thus played host to many diplomats and dignitaries including Prince Charles and his current wife. After enjoying a five star dinner at the hotel dining hall, we retired to bed.
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