Living in a constantly heaving concrete jungle is all well and good but when the opportunity arrives to get out, you’d be crazy not to! A rare three days off work was persuasion enough! Our destination of choice, with its proximity to ancient Trojan ruins, Gallapoli and the ruins at the village of Assos, Canakkale, a 6 hour bus ride from the smokey city was a no brainer.
The first thing that hit us upon arrival was the smell of the sea- or distinct lack of. Being able to breathe through my nose a luxury not afforded in coastal Istanbul. Fishy pollution anyone? In less than five minutes we arrived at the clock tower, the centre of a quaint little square complete with cobbled pavements. Us Brits began to feel instantly at home, why, we could be at a seaside town in Wales if we were to close our eyes and start counting sheep. Our hotel, Egem Pension, located just around the corner is the cheapest place to stay in town. We could not praise it enough. We paid for a four bed room and came out with our own mini apartment, complete with private bathroom, kitchen and two separate bedrooms. Cheaper than the hostel we stayed at in Kadikoy some weeks back.
The following morning saw an early start to enjoy the complementary breakfast (typical Turkish fare, white cheese, bread, tomatoes, hard boiled egg, cucumber, honey, chocolate spread, jam). We set off around 10.30 for our destination, to the dolmus that would carry us to the ruins of Troy, cryptically located under a bridge we were told was a ten minute walk away. Armed with some rather vague directions, off we went on our quest to find this what would turn out to be, most elusive of stations.
A ten minute walk turned into an hour and a half long epic, a dead cat, three empty bridges, a forlorn, desperate looking park, several false starts, bemused locals and some rather useless hand gestures later. It wasn’t until we walked in to a nearby hotel that we were sent in the right direction, back past the original bridges we came across. A lonely, sorry looking bus station if I ever did see one.
Forty five minutes later and we were finally at our destination. Upon entering the site you are confronted with an interpretation of the Trojan Horse that looks a bit like its been made out of lego. Irregardless of its cheesey childhood memory invoking facade you can climb into the horse and pose for many a cliched touristy photo, invoking the spirit of the Spartan warriors, ready to have a go at a city that had been defending itself successfully for 10 years.
Down from the cheesy horse and into the footsteps of various generations of Trojans some 5000 years back. It was nice to espy the walls that were built with ancient hands, walls that helped protect the city for 10 years of war, walls only wooden horse trickery could penetrate. Apparently.
Everything is nicely signposted, so you can see which Troy you are looking at (the site contains several versions of Troy built over generations), with descriptions that were if I am to be honest, a tad boring, not detailing any of the juicy bits, more of the structural and architectural stuff. Nonetheless I brushed up on a lot of history coming here and it gave me a thirst to read Homers Illiad in order to imagine the Troy that he described in his epic.
In the end we did not have time to make our way to Assos as originally planned due to the bus stop fiasco. Disappointing. Although it was consolation enough to return to Canakkale and feast our eyes upon the star of the 2007 film ,Troy.
Much more impressive than its lego brick counterpart. Complete with accompanying model city of Troy, it causes one to wonder at why they didn’t think to include these things on site, the model really giving a feel of what the ancient city actually looked like.
The rest of our evening was spent on a bar crawl that went something like this, discover bar, consume drink, bar closes, leave and repeat. Was it something we did? At a paltry half 12 we were homeward bound, intoxication merely hinted at, a poor Saturday night performance. Canakkale certainly is not the place to come to have a night on the town.
Fresh faced(ish) on the last day, faced with the 6 hour journey home, we managed to fit in a trip to the naval museum. Well worth going if but for the tour of a real live military boat, by real live members of its crew.
We ended our trip with heavy hearts, onwards to Istanbul to meet our people filled, personal space flouting destiny. Although we didn’t get to see everything the surrounding area had to offer (Assos, Gallapoli), the novelty of getting out of Istanbul was enough to quell any disappointment.
Now to watch Brad Pitt get all medieval on Troy’s ass.