Anzac Day.

So here is a story. A long one. A 'wee' extract of my travels that I thought would be appropriate today.

It's a very embarrassing one.

'We arrived back in Bari late that night on the ferry. My passport got stamped coming back into Italy, my Irish one, which was weird because it hadn't been stamped before, only in the Balkans. We hiked our way back across the port to where we left the car two weeks ago when we started on this trip. Both of us crossing our fingers all the way that it would still be there. It was! Thank goodness! Only problem was the battery was flat. It was a manual so Leo pushed and I did the dance with the clutch and gears and we got it going again, I sped off in excitement (of it starting) down the street and poor Leo had to run to catch me.

We drove around the city for awhile to charge the battery (there were people everywhere out on the street, lots of trestle tables set up in carparks and on the sides of the road, people having enormous picnics on them, it looked awesome) and then stopped for pizza (these Italians have been training me to eat a whole one to myself, no wonder I'm carrying round some extra kgs!) before starting the monster drive to Gallipoli. I stayed in the car with the motor running but the pizza took a while so in the end we decided to turn it off. Low and behold it wouldn't start again, so I jumped out of the car and pushed with the help of the two pizza makers to get it started again. I was in barefeet and Leo was laughing at the shoeless kiwi pushing a car through Bari with two pizza men. 

To Gallipoli we drove, stopping to put petrol in half way and even with the hour drive to that point the car wouldn't start again, another push start. We drove through Lecce and continued to Gallipoli, deciding to visit Lecce on the way back, we got to Gallipoli very late that night. 

We took some photos of the old city in the moonlight and then Leo showed me where he used to live, we found a place on the beach near there and tried our best to get some sleep. Pity the beach we chose was swarming with mosquitos and we ended up in our sleeping bags with our sarongs covering our heads and any other exposed piece of skin. A dog barked right by our heads in the middle of the night (waking me from my sweet, uncomfortable, mosquito slumber) and gave me the fright of my life. I called out to Leo, 'Leo, is it big?!' thinking it was about to eat me. We ended up giving up on sleep at about 5am, so I think we got maybe 2 hours sleep if we were lucky. And drove back (we parked the car on a hill this time so no push start) to a nicer beach near the city and went for a swim. 

We were the only people on the beach and watched the sun come up, was so lovely. One family arrived after our swim and as soon as Leo and I lay down in the sun we both fell asleep immediately. When we woke up several hours later, there were people all around us, the beach was absolutely packed. Gave me a heck of a fright. We swam a bit more and then feeling a little filthy, went in search of a shower.

We asked in a campsite but they said we'd have to pay 10E each for a facilities card for the day, so we went back the area where Leo lived, bought a 25 litre container for 3E and then filled it at the towns water fountain. There was the biggest congregation of old men at this fountain I've ever seen, all their bikes leaning up in the gutter and all of them chatting, so cool! I had one of the nicest, freshest showers of my life out of that container, in a deserted carpark. We used the wall to hold the container and one of us tipped while the other washed. I even managed to shave my legs and armpits (ew) most probably to Leo's disgust but hey it had to be done!

Once clean we headed into the old city to explore. And now I need to confess that I am a terrible New Zealander, who attends ANZAC Day every year but obviously listens to nothing but the last post. When Rosie and I were first in Italy we spotted Gallipoli on the map and thought 'Wow, lets go visit Gallipoli, something every New Zealander should do', thinking without really thinking that that was the Gallipoli from the 1st World War. So when Leo and I arrived to explore I told him that I would love to visit the Gallipoli site and memorial. We spent the whole bloody afternoon looking for this site (WHICH IS IN TURKEY YOU IDIOT), we asked in the information centre but the man working was just a fill-in and knew nothing about the city anyway he said (did he not live there?). We asked some policemen who directed us to the (very small) memorial that Italians visit on the 25 of April ('No, not the one', I said, 'It's on a cliff top, its a big memorial, they just expanded the space a few years ago, theres a poppy field and crosses') and even accosted several old men to ask if they knew were it was (yes, I also thought it could have been World War 2, the Gallipoli landing, at this stage) and no luck. 

An old man came speeding along in his motorised scooter and we asked him if he knew where a New Zealand and Australian memorial was, that is visited on the 25th of April, the man replied 'Well,... April has already been my boy, you'll have to wait till next year'. Really? Hehe. We even rang Leo's parents to see if they could help us by looking on the internet. Oh dear.

So, we had no luck (obviously), the town was very beautiful so it was time well spent regardless. Leo was getting all worked up that New Zealanders and Australians had come to help the Italians in (one of) the World Wars, had died for them and no one even knew where the bloody memorial was! (What an idiot I am!) And he was really apologetic that we could not find the place. 

We headed off to Lecce, Leo thought there might be a bigger information place there anyway so they might be able to help. We drove around for awhile in Lecce trying to find a hill to park the car on, that place is so flat! We finally settled on one that sloped about 1 degree downwards and stopped there. We visited a little market, walked to the citys amphitheatre, saw the amazing (and famous) rusted chocolates (chocolates that really and truely look like rusty nuts and bolts), visited some of the citys churches and main square and then of course the Information Centre. 

The man there was really lovely and decided to look it up on the internet for us as he also was not sure what we were talking about. Leo decided to up the anti when he asked and told the man that my grandfather had died there, in hope that it we would get more information as we'd found nothing so far. The man searched and then said, 'Well, theres a memorial in Gallipoli, TURKEY for World War ONE that is visited on the 25th of April each year by New Zealanders and Australians', Leo looked horrified and turned to me and translated but I had already realised. I saw it on the screen and I just about died of embarrasment. 

As soon as I saw Turkey I realised my mistake. Leo and I made a swift exit, the man was laughing and Leo and I burst into laughter once leaving the centre. Lets just say I will never forget where 'our' Gallipoli is and what war it was now. Embarrasment is good like that. If anyone would like to give me a World War lecture when I return I will happily and willingly attend.'

So there you have it. My terrible story of my search for Gallipoli. I will remember it.


Olivia said...

LOL. Oh dear. It does look like a beautiful town though.

I couldn't be bothered getting up for the dawn service at the tomb of the unknown soldier today... it started at 5.45... O_o I might wander past at some stage today though.

Louie said...

You are very funny! Even now though, when you do a websearch for Gallipoli it still brings up the town in Italy first!

Blogging tips