This is the final post for our 2008 Simpson Prize blog, with some reflections on the trip, as we all try and settle back into 'normal' life. The trip is without a doubt a once-in-a-lifetime expereince and we were lucky to share it with such a special group of people. Like all travel, it's often the connections that you make with people that are the highlights, more than where you go. However, going to Turkey and being at Gallipoli for Anzac Day certainly combines the place and the people in a great way.
Blog: Simpson Prize Winners
Our last morning in Turkey has finally arrived as we work out how to stuff everything into already bulging bags and spend our remaining lira. The final day yesterday included a visit to the beautiful Chora Church which features mosaics depicting the life of the Virgin Mary. Being a Sunday it was a little easier to get around Istanbul without the usual crazy traffic.
Wednesday - To Helles and back
Following our exploration of the ANZAC part of the Gallipoli campaign, we moved to Cape Helles to look at the battles that took place at the south of peninsula. A visit to the British Memorial reminded us of the significant naval presence and the huge number of British troops involved in the battles for Krithia. At the top of the cliff we looked down onto V Beach where the River Clyde beached and the British troops were cut down as they tried to establish a beachhead.
Stepping on two continents
It's great to see that the concept of quiet Sunday morning traffic exists in other places around the world. Leaving Istanbul was quick and simple, even though we got an idea of just how big a city of 16 million people can be. A drive through green countryside was very pleasant, noting the complete lack of fences and many shepherds with sheep and goats. The boy from Kingaroy has seen plenty of tractors in his time in Australia, but out in the paddocks, not cruising down the road like they do here.
If we were sensible and thoughtful students, we would talk about the rich cultural experience we had today visiting the Blue Mosque, Topaki Palace, Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia. We would describe the centuries old Christian and Muslim history associated with these places, reflecting on the significant events and people that are part of Turkish history.
Merhaba - after a marathon plane flight we made it. Istanbul is awesome – huge, fast- paced, chaotic and full of people. A cruise on the Bosphorus was a great way to experience the city from the relative calm of our boat. We saw many palaces and mosques, and noted that nearly everything has a Turkish flag. Amazing houses right on the water, just like the OC but older and more expensive. We also cruised Istiklal St, just down from the hotel, and managed to avoid getting run over by trams, cars, bikes and pedestrians – quite an achievement.
On Tuesday 18 March, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs announced the winners of the Simpson Prize for 2008. The Simpson Prize is a national competition for year 9 and 10 students which sees eight students, one from each State and Territory, accompanied by two teachers, flown to Gallipoli to attend the Dawn Service and other ANZAC Day ceremonies. The students travelling to Turkey will be contributing to the Memorial blog to share the experiences of their trip.