Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Shenanigans a Trois: Road Trip

Tuesday was the day we set out for Canakkale.  It also turned out to be our earliest roll out.  The only real "free" time we had to make up our visit to the Blue Mosque was before the bus came, and during my early morning reconnaissance Monday morning I decided that it would be best to go at 8:30, right when they opened, so that we could avoid all the tourists (FYI - my students aren't tourists...they're travelers.  I done raised them right).
So most of us had breakfast (the boys were only just rolling out of bed when we knocked on their door at 8:25) and we walked the short distance to the mosque, where we girls covered our heads.  One of possibly the sweetest moments of the trip was seeing my Indonesian student helping his sister with her scarf.  We all took off our shoes and put them in bags, then walked in.  The Blue Mosque is something else.  It seems like there's hardly a surface that's not covered with decoration, and it's so HUGE inside.  We didn't have a guide, but Time Lady may have eavesdropped on another group's guide and I don't think we missed out on anything, other than the fact that apparently the ginormous pillars used to hold water from Mecca but don't anymore due to damage).  After taking in the beauty of the mosque, we went back to the hotel (some people didn't get their coffee, and may Allah save me from un-caffeinated teenagers!)

We hired a 15-seat bus from Seven Hills Sightseeing to take us to Gallipoli and Troy, as well as our airport transfers.  When I was putting the tour together, I balked at the price a little.  Back in the day I took the public bus, and it wasn't too expensive an adventure.  We ended up paying around a hundred dollars each for the hire, but my mind quickly overcame the shift because it was so convenient, and most everyone was comfortable (Time Lady and I might have a had a few problems, thanks to the size of my backside, but we managed).  About a month before the trip I found out we needed a guide (government regulation that tour buses of 9 or more have to have one), and I wasn't super excited about that, either, but it turned out for the best, since our driver didn't speak English and not everyone is like me (I hate guides - they annoy me with their talking when I'd rather just soak it in).
On the way out we visited Gallipoli, which was one of the first big battles of WWI and celebrates its centennial in 10 days.  It was a big, bloody SNAFU, because the ANZACs came ashore at the wrong cove and had an uphill battle pretty much the whole way.  Both sides suffered about a 60% casualty rate, but it was the beginning of big things for them both, and every year tons of Australians and New Zealanders come and pay tribute.  We started at ANZAC cove, then visited Lone Pine and finally Conkbayri.  One of my proudest moments came at the trenches, when two of my kids started picking up garbage.  They seriously give me hope for the world.

We ferried across the Dardanelles to Canakkale, where we got settled into our hotel before going out to a place on the waterfront for dinner.  It started pouring down rain and we didn't stay out very long, especially because the kids were happy with the hotel and kind of wanted a down-night to play games and hang out.

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