Tuesday 3 May 2011 by Stuart Baines. No comments
Battlefield Tours, Simpson Prize 2011

Well like most great things, they do have to come to an end. As quickly as it seemed to begin the Simpson Prize trip for 2011 has wound up. The last few days were a blur of buses, shopping and food. It seemed that everyone wanted to get their last empty spaces in their cases filled so we hit the Bazaar for the last time.

There was no stopping this gaggle of shoppers as they set their sites on last souvenirs and gifts. For some of us it was a necessity as we had slightly underestimated the underwear and sock count back home in Australia, for others part of the purchasing was buying bigger bags to carry home their loot. The Bazaar is an amazing place. Like markets everywhere there is a lot of the same and you can move along and buy the same things somewhere else and hopefully get it cheaper. Occasionally around the twisting alleys and brightly decorated lanes you find that little gem souvenir that you know will mean something special. We had all had bargaining experience now and enjoyed the game. Walking away mid negotiation was a favourite with the guys and the girls it was the sweet and innocent, braver men than I may say, “act”. In the end we came back with bags and armfuls and everyone had their fill of gifts, even Gene who has, like all good Italian boys, have many siblings and cousins that he just had to buy for. Our Turkish guide, Ozgur, had let me know about one of the hidden gems of the Bazzar so that was the last stop for me. It was a little area just outside of the main undercover area with second hand bookshops everywhere. Tucked away hidden in tis tucked away corner of the Bazaar was a great little antique shop. It was dusty and smelled funny and was full of all sorts of wonderful little items all with a rich history just waiting to be discovered. It will definitely be on my list of places to visit.

So the trip is over but the blog is not. I will sort through my photos and re-read the scribbled notes that I took down and hopefully I will post some of those great memories and highlights over the next few weeks. But just one last note of seriousness from me. Sometimes people do things in their job that is just something they do, just part of the gig and sometimes you get to do some pretty fabulous things as well. I think I have been lucky to do what I have and visit those battlefields. To experience some part of what it was like for those men who served there so long ago and be able to try and pass on that experience to young people is a privilege. Beyond that, I have to say that our goodbyes at the airport were difficult because of the wonderful kids that shared this experience with us. Each and every one of them were amazing people and each of them surprised me every day. It is comforting in many ways to know what good young people are around today. It was a fantastic experience that was highlighted by the people I was with and I hope that I can consider each and every one of the Simpson Prize winners this year a friend. I will miss you all.

Please go back and read about the trip if you have missed the previous posts.