Sunday, November 28, 2010


We spent much of Friday touring the Gallipoli peninsula, the northern side of the Hellespont and thus the traditional water gateway to Instanbul and beyond. In WWI, the British, under their First Sea Lord Winston Churchill, elected to try what no other navy had ever done--force the Dardanelles, proceed to Istanbul, and take the Ottoman Empire out of the war, thus relieving ally Russia. The combined British and French fleet was driven back from the Hellespont by shore batteries and mines. Later, the Allies landed on both Gallipoli and at Canakkale, across the strait. Gruesome WWI trench warfare ensued. A second landing, of Australian and New Zealand Commonwealth troops, took place in April, 1915, but had the very bad luck of arriving at just the place that a divisional commander named Mustafa Kemal--later Ataturk--had expected them. Four months later he led the counter-attack that eventually drove the Allies from the Dardanelles. Churchill resigned as First Sea Lord, and the war went on another three years, in other theatres. There were 500,000 casualties in the Dardanelles campaign.
From our campsite Thursday night, near the narrowest part
of the straits

The great monument at Abide, near the end of the Gallipoli

In the Abide memorial courtyard

It is a huge cemetery for Turkish soldiers killed in the
Gallipoli campaign, some 86,000 of them

Gallipoli was largely a matter of trench
warfare and the attendant terror, rot, and
disease; Bernieres' Birds Without Wings
captures it as well as any of us can imagine

With lines and trenches literally within ear-
shot of one another, the "Johnnies and
Mehmets" (Ataturk's expression) had other
relations than enmity alone

ANZAC Cove; in defending this area, Kemal gave his
famous order to the 57th Infantry Regiment: "I am not
ordering you to attack, I am ordering you to die. In the time
it takes us to die, other troops and other commanders will
arrive to take our places." They held their ground, were
wiped out to the man, but the Allied assault failed. A
national hero was born, and it might be said, Turkey's
war of independence had begun.

At the Ataturk statue, near the spot where he
was hit in the chest by shrapnel, the blow
stopped by his pocket watch, in the August
counter-attack; there are many, many
memorials and cemeteries, some Turkish,
many British, French, Australian, and New
Zealand; the area is reminiscent of
Gettysburg, with so many memorials; the
monuments themselves are more on the scale
one sees in the great WWI battefields in
France and Belgium

Vicki takes a picture for some Jandarma in the area; this must
be holy ground for them

I am so proud: she has gotten really good at identifying
gun emplacements, tank obstacles, pill-boxes, etc., and often
sees them before I do....

Thanksgiving, 2010: Turkey, Turkey Everywhere...

Thanksgiving Day for us was a pretty big travel day--the Baths at Alexandria Troas, Troy, and then the Hellespont. We are always mindful of how fortunate we are in being able to do all this. We stopped for the night in a parking lot of one of the huge World War I Gallipoli museums outside Eceabat. The Jandarma checked us out about bed-time, but didn't have anything to say.

Thanksgiving, 2010, was another memorable holiday. Away from home, family, and friends, again, but still memorable. In 2009, we were at Mt. St. Michel, feasting on French dindin. In 2008, we were on Koh Samui, in the Gulf of Thailand, and our dinner was at the cooking school there I attended. No dindin, but lots of other great stuff. We had hoped to find turkey in Turkey. It is called hindi. Much of the lunch meat I have eaten here is jambon-flavored hindi. But, despite a concentrated search, we found no turkey in Turkey and had to settle for roast chicken, albeit with the usual fixins, including Vicki's special lime bavarian (aka green slime). We subsequently learned that turkey is the national dish in Turkey on New Year's Day, but that's beyond our scope.

Actually, we did find turkeys in Turkey, and briefly
considered sacrificing one to the gods at the Red Hall in
Pergamon; but concluded that would be too messy in the

Vicki preparing Thanksgiving dinner in our
little galley at Gallipoli

Of course, we had Trojan wine to go with
the roast chicken; it was, um, epic...

A modest but memorable Thanksgiving dinner, 2010, in
turkey-less Turkey

We have much to be thankful for beside our travels. Daughter Rebecca and husband Jeremy, who were married last June, are expecting a baby girl in April. The prospective grand-parents are thrilled. And daughter Rachel became engaged to Will Sehestedt earlier this month, putting us way over the top in parental pride. They are planning an August wedding in Missoula.


We drove on, viewing the Hellespont from a variety of angles, stopping in Canakkale to board our ferry back to Europe; well, European Turkey.
Entrance to the Hellespont, the narrow strait leading to the Sea of Marmure, 
to Istanbul, the Bosphorus, and then the Black Sea; an historic place, as long 
as there has been history

Past Canakkale, where it gets really narrow, some say 1200 meters, some say 
1500 meters; in any case, less than a mile, short enough for the Persians to 
stretch a pontoon bridge across for their hundred thousand troops

Traffic is always brisk

Traffic on the road to Canakkale was interesting, varied...

Our ferry, the Good Ferry Ezine, about to arrive in Canakkale

It's been more than a year since the Grey Wanderer's last boat ride, across the 
English Channel; the weather this day was balmy, calm

Farewell, Canakkale, and Asia, again

Our crack satnav, Tom, ever keeping track of us; we think this might have been 
his first trip to Anatolian Turkey

Hello, Eceabat, the Gallipoli Peninsula, the Dardanelles, and Europe

Saturday, November 27, 2010


We drove on to Truva, modern-day Troy. The story of the German-American Heinrich Schliemann's 1870s discovery of Troy, following Homer's literary leads, is well enough known. Schliemann was an adventurer, made his money in the California gold rush, a treasure-hunter and relentless self-promoter, who savaged the place, but got what he was looking for. What he never fully realized was that he had uncovered a site that included as many as nine distinct cities, one atop another, going back 5,000 years. Homer's Troy, if there was such a thing, and if this is it, is conjectured to be either Troy VI or Troy VII, that is, end of the Bronze Age, 13th century BCE or so. The site was well enough known in antiquity. Xerxes sacrificed a thousand oxen there prior to crossing the Hellespont to invade Greece. The Romans reverred the place, as they did anything Greek, but especially so since they thought (after Virgil) they were descended from the Trojan Aeneas. Only in the middle ages was it "lost." Anyhow, it is one of Turkey's most popular sites, one of its many World Heritage Sites, and, like the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall or the Taj Mahal, something you just can't miss. I think the state has done a good job with it, as complicated and dug-over as it is. But if your interests are strictly Homeric, you're not going to be pleased. Troy museum artifacts are in Canakkale, which we skipped, Istanbul, which we saw, and in Berlin, which was closed when we were there in spring of 09.
More beautiful landscape along the way

Most-photographed item at Troy

Most-photographed pose

Famous photo of Schliemann's wife wearing
"Priam's gold"--well, someone's gold

Most of the place looks like this

Northeast citadel, Troy VI

Looking toward the beaches, where most of the fighting
occurred; to the right, the Hellespont; of course, after 3000
years of silting-up, one assumes the beaches were much
nearer in the time of Agamemnon and Priam, Paris and Helen,
et al.

Schliemann's original trench; it says
something about the place that this would
be memorialized...

This, I thought, was the most compelling scene at Troy:
showing all 9 layers...

To wit...

Troy VII structure

Odeon--Roman Troy

Pillars thought to be part of Priam's palace...

South gate, Troy VI-VII

Two red squirrels, Hector of the gleaming helmet and
swift-footed Achilles, fight it out before the walls of Troy;
well, actually, on the walls of Troy

Alexandria Troas Arch and Baths

So we were driving away, a one-lane road through the fields and olive groves, 
and saw this large structure; I walked over to it...four big walls, a large arched 
entrance, but absolutely no indication of what it was

Walking back through the recently plowed fields, I couldn't help but notice they are 
much clay pottery shards as rock; and some marble facing too

And then I saw this in the distance, buried among the trees
and dense undergrowth

And this; feeling a bit like Indiana Jones, I went back for Vicki 
and together we explored

This, the originally quadruple-arched entrance to the baths, the big bath complex 
we had read about

Two of the arches are fully intact, one has collapsed, and one is supported, sort of, 
by a timber frame


Another look

And there, looking through the arch, is one side of the 12-bay bath complex; 
the vegetation was too dense to get any better a shot; but that was part of the 

One of the 12 bays, all pretty much intact; it was a hoot getting to see all this 
before the spades go to work

Alexandria Troas

Most of the ruins one sees are managed, orchestrated, even contrived. They have been gone over, finely, more than once, and then put back together, hopefully with an eye to authenticity and education. Everything you see has been put there by some contemporary of yours. Perhaps that's a cynical view, but, except for the largest items, I don't think it's far off. Every now and then, however, if you have the opportunity, you can see something significant that awaits excavation, or is in the midst of it. At Alexandria/Troas, a late 4th century BCE Hellenistic/Roman town, we had that opportunity and one of the best site visits we have ever had. Of course, part of it is just wandering through the olive groves, spotting something curious in the distance, and then finding it to be really spectacular. It was our last ruins site in Turkey. (I don't count Troy).
Near the agora, in Alexandria Troas; as an under-developed site, undergoing 
excavation, there was no entrance fee, no parking fee, so we spent the night 

In the agora

Temple in the agora

Nicely carved piece

Excavation refuse pile, the small bits (pottery shards)

The medium-sized bits

The large bits

Including these Hellenistic cannon balls

And the extra large bits

Alexandria Troas is noted for having possibly the largest Roman baths complex 
in Anatolia; I saw three sets of these structures around the agora, and concluded 
I had seen the noted baths; but stay tuned...