Monday 9th June
Today we travel from Kuşadası to Çanakkale, or as we know it, Gallipoli, stopping off to see two ancient cities en route: Pergamon and Troy.
I don’t have a huge passion for Ancient Greek or Roman culture and only ever learned about some of the stories because I was a drama geek at school. The fact that I’ve taken next to no notes for today is probably pretty telling. One quite useless piece of information that I retained was that Pergomonians used to import Papyrus from Egypt for their writing. When the relationship between the two disintegrated they created parchment. Also, Pergamon is home to the worlds steepest amphitheatre.
I had been warned that Troy was pretty over-rated. But I felt as though it’s something you should say you have done. I’m still very confused about the city and it’s history. Only half of the historians claim that the great battle of Troy happened. However the story was recorded 500 years after the alleged battle? And there was no actual evidence and definitely no giant horse. The boundary between gods and real people was also confusing for me. Zeus and Athena are a myth but Helen and Paris were real? But didn’t a human fall in love with a god or vice versa and that’s why the whole war started? I’m content staying confused about this and resist the need to harass Shaggy with a million (more) questions. What I do learn is that Troy is one of the oldest Ancient Greek cities with its construction date sitting somewhere around 3000 BC. Contributing to its destruction would have been at least one major earthquake, warfare, and the fact that it was excavated by a greedy guy searching for its treasury whom had no knowledge about archaeology. Picture a boisterous toddler searching for his favourite teddy at the bottom of a huge toy basket. Now the city is his messy bedroom. And it’s no wonder people say it is over-rated, especially if they are visiting it after having seen Ephesus, and even Pergamon, where the ruins aren’t as… ruined?
We check into the Grand Anzac in Çanakkale and are let loose to find our own dinner. An embarrassing amount of people head (or in my case run) straight to Maccas.
The McBeefy Alaturka is my choice (because that’s still being cultural right?) and I devour every mouthful. We explore the city for a few hours, impressed with the amount of (I hate to say normal but that’s the easiest way to describe it) normal clothes shops and the humming atmosphere. It is not a conservative city and the people are friendly and I feel relaxed and alive at the same time. I was expecting to see more Kiwis and Australians about but that wasn’t the case. It’s definitely one of my favourite stops. I pick up a jump suit, locally made, with a beautiful red and blue design.
That night my arm doesn’t have to be twisted too hard to convince me to head out and explore the night life, besides I have a new outfit. Our cosmopolitan group of two Aussies, a Kiwi, an Argentinian and two Koreans stick out at the small bar we choose. But unlike in Konya, we feel embraced instead of judged with a number of locals coming to dance with us.
There is a local rock group playing. Can’t understand a word they’re saying but it’s easy listening (and dancing). The only “English” song is an interesting rendition of “Ain’t Nothing but a Houndog” where they have clearly just learnt the key vowel sounds and have no idea what they’re saying. Humorous and very enjoyable none the less. We have only one or two drinks each before calling it a night shortly after midnight, everyone prepared that we have a somber day ahead of us tomorrow and it wouldn’t feel right to be trailing the headstones of brave men with a thumping hangover.