By Chris Elliott…..
RBL, Kyrenia Branch: Çanakkale…
Despatches, Day 1 – 20th September 2012….
With the heat of the day increasing members of the Royal British Legion – Kyrenia Branch (RBL) began to arrive at Ercan airport either by car or the coach provided for their trip to Turkey to visit both Troy and the Gallipoli landing areas.
As the group arrived they were met by Anne Lloyd the RBL Secretary who bid them all welcome and it was time to be processed quickly by the Ercan security staff with cases being scanned and then there was a very unflustered check in and transfer to the departure lounge to rest prior to departure.
The group boarded their aircraft and this departed at 11.45am for Adnan Menderes Airport in Izmir arriving at 13,15pm. Again the processing through immigration, customs and baggage collections was swift and soon Anne was leading her troops along with Major Brian Thomas the RBL Chairman to the coach that was awaiting them.
Soon we were off on a longer than expected, 6 hour plus drive to Çanakkale with a brief stopover for a light lunch. The drive through Turkey to our destination was amazing and we may be used to lots of buildings in North Cyprus but here, driving out from Izmir which is the third largest city in Turkey, there were apartment blocks everywhere and many nestled around and on the hills or small mountains.
One of the most fascinating things to see was the incredible number of olive trees which stretched for miles and miles along the road and off into the hinterland.
From time to time we would see wind farms with the windmills eerily turning their vanes on the horizon and industry was to be seen everywhere. Soon the land elevations started to change and then we climbed through mountains covered in all manner of trees and then were over and running alongside the sea and another thing that became apparent was that the further north we went, smaller apartment blocks and also many houses were seen until we arrived in Çanakkale.
With the sun now gone we drove into the bustling city of Çanakkale with many people enjoying the evening alongside the sea-shore in the extensive gardens and park areas and also bars and restaurant,
Hurrah we have now arrived at around 20.00pm at the Akol Hotel for the next 3 nights and we all struggled with stiff limbs to recover our baggage before we booked into the hotel and had a late night meal before retiring exhausted into our beds.