World travel involves small trips as well as large. This particular trip took just seven hours by bus but took us to one of the most famous and influential cities in world history and one of the bloodiest battlefields in the history of man.
While not a long trip in terms of duration nor distance, this small jaunt carried us across world’s and continents. I’ll explore the specifics in three future posts about Troy, Gallipolli, and the Turkish Island of Gokceada. This post though is more concerned with the minutia of Canakkale and the Dardanelles, not to mention the journey itself which took us there from ancient Tantalus, Manisa, and Izmir.
As with nearly all journeys that I take, this one was far from planned. My students began asking me last week if I was going to be traveling during the holiday. I sensed that it was perhaps a bit of the opening gambit for a holiday invitation and despite the fact that slaughtering sheep doesn’t particularly bother me, I’ve always been uncomfortable accepting holiday invitations be it from friends or family, let alone acquaintances. As a result, I began to say “Yes, we’re going to travel” and then to ask them where we should go. They all said Izmir or Istanbul, and I wanted something more exciting in terms of the imagination. First, I considered the vast East but because I’ve only recently been freed from Morocco, the idea of heading into Kurdish conservatism didn’t sound great.
So, I looked west towards Thrace and Marmara. Despite our not having much money, I figured that 1) it was the off season 2) it wasn’t very far and 3) well…okay, I didn’t really think of three things.
I managed to get Hanane to agree to head to Canakkale because when she mentioned it to a student they told her how beautiful it was. Of course, I was still considering heading east at the bus station if the tickets were cheaper, but I didn’t tell her that or she never would have left the house.
We took the early bus from Manisa to the big ottogar in Izmir and found that Metro buslines was running a 25 lira fare special between Izmir and Canakkale. We had to wait about an hour and a half for the bus, but that wasn’t too bad.
Now, here I should admit that I have a 2009 Lonely Planet for Turkey that we picked up when we first came to Turkey. While I usually find Lonely Planet to be helpful in terms of prices and times, this one is by far the worst I’ve encountered. Don’t buy it. I would venture to guess that the information in it hasn’t been updated since 2004 except for very minor changes. Across the board I’ve found prices to be wrong, distances to be wrong, and in some cases directions to be wrong in it. Hanane likes it though since it gives some comfort to her to not be in the unknown.In this case, she didn’t mind the five and a half hour busride it promised…which got me into trouble somehow when it was six and a half. I’m not exactly sure why I get held responsible for Lonely Planet, but then I do carry their logo here, so it must make sense to her.
An interesting side note about marriage. Since I’m the one who plans the trip, I’m the one who needs to pay for it. One would think that the cost would be just double of traveling by myself, but in fact, it’s more like triple or quadruple because of the comfort factor that I thrive without but that a woman needs to be happy. Things like ensuite bathroom instead of sleeping in a dorm or eating nice food instead of just some bread and a can of sardines. To be fair, Hanane did treat me to a couple of nice meals, but we’ve determined that for these sorts of exploratory trips in the future there will have to be a different arrangement.
In any event, we arrived in Canakkale and checked out the recommended hotels in the Lonely Planet. Contrary to my expectations about off season prices being lower, the prices seemed to be higher. I guess they figured since they have less business, they should charge more. The Anzac House Hostel offered us a crappy double bed in a closet with no toilet for 60 Turkish lira a night. They refused to negotiate lower.
So, we left and went to the Otel Efes around the corner. The owner welcomed us warmly at first but as soon as we had paid she became sullen and morose. The price was 50 lira a night and over the two nights we stayed there, I regretted that we had. The owner seems to be becoming a crazy cat lady and wore the same clothes for three days just sleeping on them on the couch and became increasingly unwelcoming and awful. You can read my review at TripAdvisor
Uh-oh. Looks like I’m going sort of long. I’ll finish up this soon in a second post. I’ll tell you about the Hammam vs. Moroccan Hammam and varous sights and enjoyments in the town.