SOME NOTES FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS
Getting to Gallipoli is a much greater undertaking than popping over to France and Flanders! Hopefully these notes will prove useful if you are planning your own trip. Feel free to email me for any further help.
We flew from Heathrow on British Airways which cost around £250 in May 2000. We took an early morning flight, and with a four hour journey and two hour time difference, we arrived at Istanbul mid-afternoon. We had previously arranged to pick-up a hire car whose officers were in the airport. This we picked up in a nearby car park and began the journey to Gallipoli. We tried to follow the directions in the Holts guide (see below) but took a wrong turn somewhere and missed the motorway section. However, the normal roads weren't that busy. The journey took five and a half hours, stopping a couple of times en-route at 'service stations' to either fuel up, pick up supplies or use the toilet.
Some people prefer to stay in Istanbul for the night and then travel onwards. However, our experience of driving around the suburbs of the city, and then on the highway coming back in certainly put us off from this idea. If you do want to do this it might be best to taxi your way to a hotel and return to the airport to pick up your car.
WHERE TO STAY
There are only a few hotels and one B&B on Gallipoli itself; there are others on the Asian side of the Narrows at Canakkale, but this means a ferry ride twice a day. The ones I know of are:
HOTEL - ECEABAT
Down Under Travel Agency: This company
provides battlefield tours of the area in a small bus, conducted in English (ok,
Australian!) using local guide Ilhami Gezici ('T.J.'). Accommodation is also
Tel: +90 286 814 2431. Fax: +90 286 814 2430.
Email: [email protected]
HOTELS - CANAKKALE
Hotel Akol (****). Tel: +90 286 217 9456.
Hotel Anafartala (***). Close to the ferry terminal. Tel: +90 286 217 4454.
Hotel Truva (***). Tel: +90 286 217 1024.
Hotel ANZAC (*). Basic accommodation, favoured by back-packers from Australian and New Zealand. English spoken. Tel: +90 286 217 0156. Fax: +90 286 217 2906.
B&B - CAPE HELLES
Pansiyon Helles Panorama. Run by a
retired CWGC gardener and his wife. Much favoured by British visitors to the
area. Close to Seddulabahir, and within walking distance of Lt-Col Doughty-Wylie
Tel: +90 286 862 0035. Fax: +90 286 212 9497.
Update - I went to visit this B&B during my May 2003 visit and found Errol Bayan and his wife charming people. They have a lovely house overlooking Morto Bay and Cape Helles, and the rooms are smart and comfortable. A wonderful place to stay!
There were a couple of books about the Gallipoli battlefields published in
the 1920s, but the only real definitive guide is Phil Taylor & Pam Cupper's Gallipoli
- A Battlefield Guide (Kangaroo Press 1989). Written by an Australian
couple, it actually covers the whole battlefield and is very good on the
cemeteries. Sadly it appears to be out of print, and difficult to find in the
UK. I hope we might see a reprint some day.
Update: see my review of this and latest availability on the Book Review pages.
Nigel Steel published Gallipoli in the 'Battleground Europe' series in 1999, but this is a reprint of an earlier book and is more a potted history of the campaign than a guide book and although we took it with us, we found it of limited use.
In April 2000 Major & Mrs Holt published their Illustrated Guide to the Gallipoli Battlefields (Pen & Sword 2000). This was the first major guide book for many years, and one we took with us. Having never used one of their books before, I did not know what to expect. There are some lovely colour photographs, but it proved of limited use 'in the field' and we noted a large number of mistakes both in terms of information and finding your way around. In the end, we mainly referred to the Taylor & Cupper book (see above).
After we got back Steve Newman's Gallipoli: Then & Now was published by After The Battle. I wished we had had this when we were there, as it is an excellent book with some superb photographs and a useful text. Recommended.
I understand that several other titles in the 'Battleground Europe' series will relate to Gallipoli. Stephen Chambers, for example, is currently working on Gully Ravine. See the Pen & Sword web site (see links page).
Currently the only modern map available is Major & Mrs Holts Battle Map of Gallipoli (see http://www.guide-books.co.uk). This map can be bought on its own, or comes with the guidebook (see above).
However, when we actually used this map we had a number of problems with it. Hills were hollows, and hollows were hills. Some cemeteries were not actually in the same place as marked on the map, and this proved a big problem in the wilderness of Suvla. The authors claim that the map was made using GPS. I suspect that a revised edition will be necessary in due course. Update! Major & Mrs Holt are currently working on an updated version of the map and guidebook. For further details visit their website: Major & Mrs Holts Battlefield Guide Books and Maps
Update - there is now a new map of the Gallipoli battlefield. It is based on a series of maps made by the Turkish Army in 1916/17 and shows roads, tracks and former trench positions. It also has some problems, but is far better than the current edition Holts map. The map can be bought from the Visitors Centre at Gaba Tepe. I will be reviewing this map shortly on the Book Reviews pages.
Unlike most other WW1 battlefields, Gallipoli is a wilderness. So a word of warning - never walk the place on your own, always have water, a first aid kit and a hat. Stick to the main paths, and wear good boots. Never walk in bare feet or sandals as there are all sorts of things in the scrub that bite! Don't drink the local water, especially out of wells. Bottled water is widely available. At Suvla there are big packs of dogs that guard the goat herds. Most are harmless, but they don't look it! We all had walking poles, with a hefty handle which might prove useful if one came at you - otherwise take some dog biscuits!
Despite these problems Gallipoli is a fascinating battlefield which everyone should visit at least once.
And once you've been once - well, you will soon want to return!