THE JOURNEY BACK…At 8:00am we got up and while Linda packed our gear I walked down to the bank and changed some money. After we had checked out of the hotel we sat outside Bob’s… in the sun talking to a couple of Aussies while we waited for our 10:30 bus to Istanbul. By the time it arrived and we were on board it was quite hot and as we headed north the fresh smell of the pine trees came to us on the hot breeze blowing through the open door. The pine-clad hills rolled away to our left and soon the land flattened out to the rolling arable land of the Northern Gallipoli Peninsula. Around 12 we left the Aegean to its memories of old wars and turned inland for Istanbul which we reached at 4:30.

The Topkapi Bus Station was as chaotic as ever but we had an idea about where we were going this time so we bought billets [tickets] into Eminönu and flagged down a passing bus. It took 20 minutes to get to Eminönu and about half an hour to find a bus over to the suburb of Şişhane where we caught the airport bus for a whopping 4,000TL each.

We were searched and had our passports checked just to get into the airport and our packs were x-rayed. Inside the airport we settled down to wait…

2:15AM, TUESDAY, 3/7. When I went to the information desk to ask where the flight check-in desk was, the woman said they didn’t know of any flight with Pegasus!! We assumed the worst but about 10:00AM a bunch of Canadians turned up with tickets for the same flight so it should be alright.

Istanbul Airport.

We stretched out to try and get some sleep but the hardness of the seats and floor, along with the bright lights made it nearly impossible…

6:10AM, TUESDAY, 3/6 At 4:30AM the call for check-in came and we took our gear over to the desk along with the tatty bunch of Canadian travellers on the same flight. When we got through passport control Linda and I went to the Duty Free shop and I bought her a bottle of Opium perfume and paid for it with my Visa card. It was 85DM [Deutschmarks]. After that we had a couple of miniscule cups of Coke which set us back 4,000TL for each cup and that saw the end of our Turkish money.

Then, along with our Canadian companions, we sprawled out on the horribly uncomfortable seats to await our boarding call…

6:20AM, TUESDAY, 3/6. At 6:19 our call came over the tannoy: Pegasus Airlines flight PG181 to Amsterdam will be delayed one hour!

8:30AM, TUESDAY 3/6, Still waiting…

9:40AM TUESDAY, 3/6. We finally took off at 9:20AM on board the nearly empty , brand new Boeing 737-400 belonging to the mysterious Pegasus Airlines. We quickly climbed to cruising altitude and soon the patchwork of mainland Europe was drifting slowly beneath us. The land was dry and the colours were the subtle earth tones of summer – browns, dark greens and muddy yellows. Through the landscape, twisting lines of rivers ran like the arteries of the Earth, supplying life-giving water to the parched land. Many small villages dotted the landscape below, fields radiating outwards from them along with the spider-web traceries of roads.

Breakfast/lunch was served at 10:00AM then we settled down to catch some rest…

2:40 PM (Amsterdam Time), TUESDAY, 3/6.  We landed at Schipol Airport at 11:40AM local time (12:40 Istanbul) and passed quickly through passport control.

As we had flown over Germany a perfect white cover of cloud was spread from horizon to horizon beneath the steel blue of the sky, as if a new fall of snow had covered the land. But as we passed over The Netherlands the cloud began to break up to reveal the orderly patterns of the Dutch countryside. The fields were all perfectly rectangular and set in dead straight lines through which ran dozens of glinting canals and the snaking black lines of motorways. But the most striking sight was the colour of the land. Every hue of green blended and merged in patterns of exquisite beauty, the effect heightened by the patches of sunlight shining through the gaps in the towering plumes of cumulo-nimbus cloud.

We waited for ¾ of an hour for our bags to emerge and only by accident did I discover them hidden away in the corner of another baggage hall. It took us a long time but eventually we organised our passage to England via Ostend  in Belgium. It wasn’t cheap but good ‘ol Uncle Visa came to our aid so the 352.10 Guilders the fare cost us didn’t come directly out of our pockets!

Once again we settled down to wait for the final leg of our journey to begin…

6:05 PM, Tuesday, 3/7. On board the first train from Amsterdam to Roosendaal we sped through the green and fertile country of Holland. The land was intensively farmed with crops of vegetables alternating with fields of wheat, corn and oats.

I slept most of the way to Roosendaal and when we got there a station attendant told us that the onward train to Ostend had been cancelled! We had to wait  for ½ an hour for a train to Antwerp and when we got there we found the right platform and sat on our packs waiting for the 3rd and (hopefully) final train to get us to Ostend…

11:05PM, Tuesday, 3/7. The train was late and we missed the Jetfoil ferry service across the English Channel. We had waited in hope as the train sped through the beautiful pastoral scenes of Belgium but we knew that we wouldn’t make it in time.

At Ostend we enquired at the Jetfoil office about our options and learned that the Jetfoil tickets were valid for either of the two night ferry sailings so we decided to catch the 11:00Pm ferry and try to hitch from Dover to London. To be on the safe side, Linda rang the Red Lion [the pub where we’d been working before setting off to Greece and Turkey] and left a message with Jim [the barman] to tell Helen and Brian [Linda’s parents] not to worry if we weren’t at the airport to meet them. 

Then, after changing some Pounds into Belgian money we went to a nearby café with an American guy called Dave and had the most delicious bowl of lasagne I have ever tasted washed down by a couple of beers. A couple of other American guys turned up and we all swapped yarns then Linda and I went over and boarded the ferry. 

As soon as it put to sea we settled down to try and get some rest for the second night of our, by now, epic journey back…

4:45AM (GMT), WEDNESDAY, 4/7. We were sound asleep when the ferry docked and we quickly, and somewhat blearily, packed up and disembarked. Customs was a mere formality and with 1 ½ hours  until the first train to London we decided to try out the very last of our luck and hitch.

Piccadilly Circus

Amazingly, we got a ride almost at once with a lone British guy in a truck and he took us all the way to Lewisham where he followed a Night Bus until it stopped and we were able to ride it all the way in to Trafalgar Square. We walked up to Piccadilly Circus and found the Underground still closed so we sat down outside the station entrance among the other dossers, with the light of day coming fast into the sky and the volume of traffic already building, and waited…    

– Eventually the Underground opened up and along with a motley selection of dossers we went in and with the insane ranting of some crazy homeless guy echoing round the station we had another wait until 5:45 when the first train to Heathrow left. 

The trip was agonizingly slow but we got there in the end and rushed into Terminal 4 where the BA flight from Singapore was just emerging from customs. And there, amongst the crowds, were Helen and Brian [Linda’s parents].

– From the beaches of Gallipoli to the joyful reunion at Heathrow Airport we had been travelling for two days and two nights non-stop; a total of 50 hours. We took the tube back into Central London and made our way round to the hotel in Lancaster Gate where Helen and Brian will be staying. Incredibly, the receptionist told them that they couldn’t check in until 1:00PM so we spent the morning in various cafes and pubs, filling in time while it rained.

Later in the afternoon, after we had got them settled into their hotel, we caught the Bakerloo Line over to the Red Lion. Because it was the European Cup Semi-final night [England lost] and it was very busy, Brain asked me if I could work behind the bar from 8:30 until 11:30.

Finally, at 12:30AM, after listening to a tape that Linda’s friend Pippa and her boyfriend Chris had sent us from New Zealand, we got to sleep…on the floor in Louie’s room. 


We got up at 7 a.m. and packed up our tent for the last time. We hung around the camp for half an hour or so waiting for a dolmüs to take us back over to Eceabat. When it arrived we paid the camp bill which came to a hefty 66,000TL then said goodbye to the shining blue Aegean and the ANZAC beaches and headed back over to the Eastern side of the peninsula.

When we got to Eceabat  we decided to treat ourselves a bit and checked into a hotel on the waterfront, right above “Bob Hawke’s Bistro/Burger Bar.”1  After we had settled into our 20,000TL a night hovel, we went and and imbibed a B.H.B.B.B breakfast of eggs, sausages, tomatoes and English tea…YUM!

After we have finished eating we settled down to read some back copies of TNT2  and I read some information sheets about the Gallipoli campaign. The Casualties of the nine-month campaign where as follows:

489,000 troops fought in on the Gallipoli Peninsula

  • 410,000 British Empire soldiers
  • 79,000 French soldiers

252,000 casualties (killed, wounded or evacuated sick)

  • 205,000 British Empire
  • 47,000 French

43,000 B.E soldiers killed

  • 7,595 Australian
  • 2,431 New Zealand
  • 8,000 French

30,000 have no known grave.

On the hill above the European Side Of The Dardanelles is a huge inscription comprising four lines from a poem by Turkish poet Halil Onan:


We spent the afternoon sunbathing on the rocks beside The Narrows then went back to “Bobs…” where we sat and drank cold drinks, read old time magazines and listened to [the Australian rock band] Cold Chisel on the stereo. In the evening we had beans and rice at a lokanta then spent our last 4,000TL on beers at “Bobs…”

1Bob Hawke was the Prime Minister of Australia at that time.

2TNT was a magazine published in London for expat Australians and New Zealanders.


We spent the morning swimming and sunbathing then broke camp at 12:30. Throwing up our packs, we headed off along the path through the trees which soon steepened and narrowed as it’s as it made its way around the headland about 60 feet above the beach. The path deteriorated until we were following narrow tracks amongst the old trenches which covered the top of the point in a rough network. Eventually we descended along the line of a main trench until we came to a tar sealed road which we followed for about 1 km to the camping ground.

We booked in and set up our tent then went for a swim in the rough and windy surf. The rest of the day we spent sitting in the camp bar.

After watching the sunset we went to the camp restaurant for an overpriced meal which was shit value, however some friendly Turkish campers gave us some wine and a grilled fish each so it wasn’t such a bad deal after all.


The boat ticket from that day.

RETURN TO GALLIPOLI  After checking out of the hotel we bought some food then caught a ferry across The Dardanelles for a mere 500TL each. We caught a dolmüs to Eceabat and then another one over to the Kabatepe Museum. There was a lovely new and clean Contiki bus there and a lot of lovely new and clean Contiki tourists so we didn’t linger and hitched a lift south along the peninsula in a grain trailer towed by tractor. When we had gone about 4 km the tractor turned off into a wheat field but one of the farmers, an old Turk, lead us across another field of wheat and down through the pine trees amongst which were a lot of old trenches, long since crumbling and filled with pine needles. In the distance we could hear the sound of waves breaking and soon the stunning blue of the Aegean could be seen through the trees. When we reached the edge of the trees we were standing on top of a small cliff beyond which was a long white crescent of beach stretching 500m away in each direction with the sea breaking against it in a continuous flow.

The old man talked to us for a few minutes (we didn’t understand a word!) then left us to swim, have lunch and make camp. We spent the afternoon swimming and sunbathing and I spent an hour or so exploring the network of old trenches which were slowly returning to the earth on the hillside above the beach.

WW1 trench, Galippoli.

At 4:30 we set off around the southern headland of our beach and walked 1 km to the camping ground. We had a couple of Cokes in the bar then walked back to our camp, had another swim then sat on the sand side by side as the waves slowly flattened out, the wind died to a breeze and the huge read disc of the sun set behind the twin Greek islands across the water, almost hidden in the haze.

Galippoli Sunset.

We lit a small fire and cooked some tomatoes and ate them out of the pan along with bread and jam and cheese. By 9 it was nearly dark and after a couple of herds of goats had tinkled their way past, we went to bed.

Our Galippoli Camp.


The Blue Mosque seen from the Upper Galleries of Aya Sophia.

ISTANBUL NOT CONSTANTINOPLE A hot sunny day greeted us when we left the hostel and walked up into the centre of Sultanahmet which was crawling with tourists, slimy touts and all sorts of wonderful Turks on their day off. Our first port of call was the luxury plus YHA hostel where we asked directions to the Basilica Cisterns. They turned out to be directly under our noses (and literally our feet) so we paid to get in – a whopping 10,000TL each – but luckily they let Linda in for free with her YHA card).  The cisterns were built in AD830 by the Roman Emperor Constantine and are a marvelous feat of construction and engineering.  They are 110 metres long and 40m wide and the ceiling is held up by 160 marble columns. The walls are 4 metres thick and the water to fill them was carried 19 km from the Belgrad Omani Forest. 

Double exposure in Aya Sophia.

Inside, we walked along the slippery catwalk while a tasteful array of lighting lit the columns and reflected in the two feet of water still within the cisterns. Classical  music ebbed and flowed from dozens of speakers hidden in the shadows thrown by the lights on to the ceiling.

After the cisterns we walked to the massive Aya Sofya Museum. Originally built as a Byzantine church in AD 537, it was converted to a mosque by the Seljuk Turks and finally to a museum by Kemal Ataturk, the first president of modern Turkey. Inside the huge main building we gazed in awe at the huge dome, the largest in the world until St Paul’s cathedral in London was built, and the huge brass candelabra hanging to within 10 ft of the floor. The inside of the dome was painted with exquisite frescoes and around the walls with huge circular plaques bearing the monograms of various sultans.

Interior, Aya Sophia.

We hung around outside the mosque in the sunshine until 1 p.m. when the Upper Galleries opened and we were able to walk up to look around the huge empty balconies where, once upon a time, women would pray in seclusion. When we left Aya Sophia we just wandered around trying to avoid the touts and hustlers. We spent some time sitting in the courtyard of the Blue Mosque but there were tricksters and con-men up to their usual games there so we went down to the Bosphorus for a look.

It was very hot and there were crowds of horrid Sunday afternoon gawkers, but we walked around the promenade until we reached the heaving conglomeration of the Galatea Bridge. We walked along the lower part of the bridge to the other side, found nothing there but crowds and smell so we walked back again and up into the narrow Streets of Sultanahmet again. We bought some snacks at a small shop and wandered back to the hostel.

The Bosphorus.


We got up at 7, packed our gear and checked out of the hotel. We walked out to the main road and started walking out of town. We had a sign we had made saying “ISTANBUL” and we took photos of each other with it by the side of the road. It was already very hot but luckily we quickly were picked up by a truckie driving a semi truck full of asphalt.

It took about 3 hours to drive to Izmit in the truck and with the amount of heavy trucks and crazy drivers on the road it was pretty obvious that one took one’s life into one’s own hands to drive amongst them! In Izmit we were dropped off outside the otogar and the driver refused to take any money for the ride. We caught a bus to Istanbul which cost us 5,000TL each and an hour later we were dumped amid the chaos of the Topkapi Bus Station.  We stood amongst the seething mass of blaring car and bus horns wondering what to do until a local guy showed us how to buy a bus ticket and flagged down a bus going to Sultanahmet District for us.

When we got off that bus we walked aimlessly in the heat for over an hour trying to find the elusive “backpacker ghetto” mentioned in the Let’s Go guide. On one street a guy gave us a card for the TRUE BLUE PENSION so we found it and checked in. After a much needed shower we went out to get a beer and something to eat. Most of the Locantas were pretty expensive-looking so for starters we bought a can of beer each and drank it in a park then had a meal at the cheapest locanta we could find which still cost us 24,000TL.

Afterwards, we wandered around the Blue Mosque and Linda  bought a bracelet from a stall.  A boy got talking to us and we went to his shop and drank çay while listening to the usual carpet spiel. As evening fell, we sat and watched the tacky sound and light show playing on the Blue Mosque and after we had suffered through most of that we walked back to the hostel.


At 5:15 a.m. Kelly woke me up and after I had dressed I grabbed my camera gear and headed off up the hill following the path taken by the sheep last night. It was already light but the colours of the forest were still deep shades of green as I walked up the steep track breathing hard and beginning to warm up. After about 10 minutes I came out in a clearing about 100 m wide and the path I was on met a small road running around the hill. I followed the road into the trees on the other side of the clearing and it led upwards but at less of a gradient so the walking was easier. Soon I emerged into a large field running away down the hill. The track carried on around the hill so it turned left onto another steep track  and began to climb up to the top, which was rocky and covered with low heavy like bushes.

By the time I got to the top of the hill ( it was actually only a knob on a long spur running down from a higher peak) I was breathing hard again and sweating but the wind blowing across the hill kept me cool, almost cold, as I stood on the top of the knob and breathed in the beautiful clean air and took in the view. Row upon row of pine-clad hills rolled away in blue haze. Far below, the waters of the lake were steel blue, rippling slightly as the breeze skimmed the surface. The sun was harsh and bright and I took some photos looking directly towards it using two grey graduated filters. Sitting on a rock amongst the bushes, alone, sweating, and feeling fit and alive, it was as if I had returned to the high country and was ready on a top to start a day’s mustering1.

After half an hour or so on the top I descended to the top corner of the meadow and sat listening to the sweet sound of the sheep bells tinkling as the shepherds rounded up their flock with hoots and yells. In a worldwide ritual, centuries-old, the sheep came together in a mob at the sound of the shepherd’s voices and were led across the meadow and into the trees to descend to the valley floor for the day’s grazing.  The sound of a little bells slowly moved further and further away until the quiet had returned to the meadow. Reluctantly I left the high posture and walked back down through the trees to the camp.

Linda  was up so we sat in a patch of sunlight talking and waiting for Kelly, who was in some sort of mood, to get up. When she finally arose, we packed up and went down to the little picnic area, lit a fire and cooked some toast for breakfast. It was a beautiful day and we walked around the lake to a little beach where we sat in the sun for an hour or so then went and had an expensive beer at a bar on the way down to the dolmüs stop.

Back in Bolu at 1:30 p.m, we found a cheap hotel in the centre of town then went and sat in a locanta drinking beer and talking until 4pm when Kelly (finally) left us to go to Izmir.  She didn’t even offer to reimburse us for that abortive taxi ride from Tortum so our faith in septic tanks2 is as low as ever. We spent the rest of the day resting up and washing in the sink of our room as we discovered that the hotel had no bathroom then went out for a cheap tea at a locanta. Back at the hotel we talked for a while and were in bed asleep by 8:30 p.m.

1In my days as a shepherd I had often sat on hilltops just like this, sweating and breathing hard after a steep climb, ready to begin a day of mustering (rounding up) the sheep that ran free on the tussocky slopes of the South Island High Country.

2Australian slang for Americans: septic tank = Yank.


We awoke at around 8 a.m. to a  chilly but fine morning and broke camp. A 5 minute walk back downhill through the trees brought us out on a dirt road which led out to the tarseal road leading back to Bolu.  We walked downhill for  about 20 minutes before a dolmüs came along and took us all the way to Bolu. When we got to the bus station we booked a ticket out to Abant Golü then went and had some soup for brekkie. With two hours to fill in we sat in the sun watching locals watching us and ate cherries.

The trip up to Abant took about 45 minutes and we stayed aboard until we were ⅔ of the way around the lake, on the opposite side from the garish hotels built on the lakeshore for rich cats from Istanbul to holiday in. Linda and I left Kelly with the packs and set off to try and find an official campsite. We walked right around the lake and even went into the over-the-top-luxury Abant Palais Hotel to ask about campsites but (of course) they said there was no camping ground at the lake. On the way around the lake, we decided to head to Istanbul on Saturday and abandon the idea of camping as it is too hard.

After we had collected Kelly and our packs we found a place to light a fire and cooked a meal of pasta flavoured with tomato paste, onions, garlic and tomatoes then I spent a bit of time hiding in the bushes taking photos of a flock of sheep. Around 6:30 p.m. we climbed up into the trees and pitched the tent then set in a sunny clearing and watched the sun set behind the low hills on the far side of the lake. A chill came into the air so about 8:30 we got into the tent. We had only been settled in for about 10 minutes when the distant sound of sheep bells began to get louder. Within about 5 minutes the flock of sheep which I had been watching earlier was all around us on their way up the hill with three grinning shepherds walking behind them. They must have thought it was a great joke to find a tent full of white folks in the middle of their trail. I watched them disappear into the rapidly darkening forest then climbed back into our steeply slanted tent. 


At 6:10 a.m. we left the little restaurant behind and started walking back into town. It was misty and cold as we walked along the highway with the beautiful red of poppies growing amongst the crops beside the road. We got a lift the last 1 km into town to the otogar {bus station] which was closed so we’ll legged it back to the town centre. We had bread and honey for breakfast at a patisserie then hung around waiting for the information centre to open. When the tourism officer finally turned up he only spoke German but we got some information about the area and walked down the main street.  Kelly went off to change money and Linda and I sat in the sun watching the local goings-on.

After we had bought some food we caught a dolmüs up to Golcük Lake where we were hassled by the guard for 5,000 each if we wanted to camp. There were no facilities there to justify the fee so he told the fat guard to get fucked. The lake was quite pretty so we left our packs at the toll gate and went for a walk around it. There must have been a million frogs in the weeds at the water’s edge and they kept up a constant racket as we walked along the path. We stopped for lunch at the far end of the lake then walked back and collected our gear and headed off down the hill.

The sneaky life of the freedom camper in Turkey. Ferg and Kelly sitting in a forest clearing waiting for sunset when we could safely make camp.

After about 20 minutes we found a path leading off into the bush so we walked about 100 m into the cool, lush forest until we found a flat mossy patch of ground beside a tiny stream. We spent the afternoon sitting in a patch of warm sun shining down through a hole in the canopy, then at around 7:30pm,  as the setting sun was throwing dappled patches of golden light through the trees, we  pitched the tent and went to bed.


ON THE BUSES  We paid up our bill last night, a whopping 100,000TL, to enable us to get an early start today. By 6:10 a.m. we were walking down the road towards Maçka, having packed up our gear in the cold early light of day after a night of heavy rain. It took us about 40 minutes to reach Maçka and we timed it just right to catch a local bus down to Trabzon. It must have been a stormy night in the hills as the river was up and dirty. We went to the otogar and booked a ticket to Samsun and only had 20 minutes to wait before it departed.

The trip along the coast took 7 hours, most of it through strong wind and driving rain. The flooded rivers flowing down from the mist-shrouded hills created a band of brown along the edge of the sea and the colours of the waters were a strange pattern of blues: in places calm,  in other places whipped up and sent crashing onto the black cliffs sending up clouds of spume.

When we arrived in Samsun the weather had cleared and it was sunny and warm although a stiff wind still blew in off the Black Sea.  We went to 6 different bus companies to find the best ticket price to Bolu and eventually bought tickets for 20,000TL each. This time, we had 2 1/2 hours to fill in so we went and had a beer in a bar and some food at the bus station cafeteria.

We left Samsun at 5:30 and turned inland through a low range of hills separating the coast from the rest of the country. As we drove into the hills, the sunlight worked its magic on the land, bringing out the rich earth tones of brown, green and gold from the tapestry of life around us. The land was fertile and well farmed and healthy crops of wheat and barley were interspersed with vegetable crops and lucerne. Once again, concrete irrigation channels were everywhere: stepping down across the floors of the valleys where crowds of people worked at planting and weeding. Most of  the land appeared to be farmed cooperatively as there was a lot of machinery around and we passed several combine harvesters sitting in yards awaiting harvest.

Towards evening the sun began to set beyond the hills, throwing it’s fiery red glow over the valleys and soon the shadows merged and night came to the land. At 1 a.m. we were stopped by a road accident. A truck had hit something else and one of the injured was loaded onto our bus to be rushed to the next town. He wasn’t so badly injured that he couldn’t smoke a cigarette though!

The bus company had told us that we would arrive in Bolu at 5 a.m. but as we careered along the road a sign said Bolu 10 km! So we resigned ourselves to having to spend a night in a hotel after all (we had planned to spend all night on the bus, thus saving a night’s accommodation) and after we had dropped the injured fellow off at the hotel at the hospital we made ready to get off at the bus station. But the fucking mongrel bastards drove straight out of town and after a lot of shouting and swearing, dropped us off on the outskirts of town at a deserted open-air restaurant. It was freezing cold but we had no choice other than to sit down in a shelter to await the morning. A kindly old man found us there an hour or so later and brought out some blankets and pillows so at least we managed to stay warm for the 2 1/2 hours until sun-up.

Our impromptu camp in the shelter of a roadside restaurant.