December 15, 2012
This blog is dedicated to several of my published and unpublished essays on all ideas, events, and people that travel through our world.
Well, last night we never met up with my former student, but we went out in downtown Istanbul and made some new friends. Didn't come home until 3:30am, and had a 6:00am wake-up call. Sounds crazy, but it was worth it!
Gallipoli World War I Memorial
I hadn't know about this site before the trip, which is a shame because WWI is my favorite war to study. This site (on the peninsula before reaching the Bosphorus) was targeted by the British in 1915 to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul. However, a German general (Von Sanders) and General Ataturk were in control of the mission to defend the territory against the British and their Anzac force. The Anzacs were a motley crew assembled by then political rising star Churchill, who thought he’d throw Aussies, New Zealanders, Indians, and other empirical soldiers into the gauntlet against the defenses of the Ottomans.
It was this campaign that defined Ataturk’s military leadership, somewhat like Washington at Yorktown, but this was at a great cost. The Anzac force tried to climb the hills here in Gallipoli to capture this incredible natural defense on the hills along the Aegean Sea, but they were slaughtered by the Turks. More than 8,000 of first wave landed on Gallipoli, and none of them remained alive. They were served crushing numbers of casualties, and the Turks also had their fair share, too. It was interesting to see the Aussies and the Turks there at the same place, giving homage to their dead. Some of them even paid respects to one another.
Troy is an interesting place. Called Troia by the locals, it had always been rumored to be a fabled city, like Atlantis is today. But one man, a German-turned American-turned Greek millionaire by the name of Heinrich Schleimann made it his life’s mission to find Troy the Sixth’s crown jewels, as told by Homer in The Iliad. Schleimann found Troy along the coast of Turkey, as it fulfilled the covenant told by Homer, as it was windy, it was near the sea, on a river, and favorable for olives.
However, when Schleimann found the ruins, he haphazardly unearthed them. Not an archeologist by any means, it’s rumored he tossed about the relics (like pottery, clothing, etc) in order to try and find the gold. He employed 300 locals and spent nearly $50,000 a year (a fortune in 1868) to find what he could in the ruins while also trying to deceive the Ottoman inspectors, who gave him permission to dig here. In the end, he found what he believed to be Priam’s Treasure, and then left for his home in Greece and Troy remained disheveled.
The Ottomans had been trying to track down Schleimann’s findings of the treasure, but he claimed he lost it. The gold “disappeared” until 1990, when it was revealed under Gorbachev’s glasnost that the Red Army brought the gold with them to Pushkin Museum in Moscow after looting Greece during World War II. Today both Turkey and the Germans are in fact trying to reclaim the art, but the Russians aren’t budging. It’s a sad story, actually, of one of the most recognizable cities on the lips of man.
While the site is great to view, its condition doesn’t make it too fit for photos. So, with that being said, I’ll provide a photo of me in the wooden replica horse from the 2004 movie, as well as a link to Mark doing (very slow) burpees at the same landmark - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2CKpS6O5xU&feature=channel_video_title
Hotel & Swim
Afterward we stopped at our 2nd hotel on the trip here in Çanakkale. The Internet connection is spotty at best, but we had an awesome dinner of Turkish meatballs and other delicious sides, and the best chocolate pudding I've ever had. Afterward, a bunch of us took a dip in the Aegean Sea, and it was very refreshing. When we came back we learned that the hotel has one thing I’ve been waiting for a while – air conditioning!!!!!!!!!
Time to go and recharge my mental batteries. We’re taking another long ride tomorrow to Bursa, the old capital of the Ottoman Empire prior to Istanbul.