Description of a Place – Gallipoli

| April 6, 2015

geliboluAs I stepped out of the warm car, I was hit by a wave of frosty, bitter wind. My scarf was whipped around as the salty breeze tried to drag me onto the beach. The sea was a furious grey-green monster, with gigantic waves trying to snatch pieces of gravelly sand from the shore.

Behind me, the rugged brown hills towered over the shore, and I tried to imagine the first soldiers scrambling up them, eagerly running to their death. I stepped forward onto the grass, and looked down the never-ending row of grey tombstones. It was as if the harsh, howling wind wanted to feed me to the furious sea, which was now frothing with anger, hoping to add one more to the many lives Gallipoli has claimed.

This secluded beach, with its hungry, devouring sea and furious winds, was so different from the sunny, sandy shore depicted on television each year. During the summer time, Gallipoli was packed with thousands of people, many of them tourists, and was witness to beautiful warm days, during which the slight sea breeze was welcome. There were hundreds of street vendors, shouting out to the crowd, trying to sell souvenirs, simit, ayran, and anything else that might be of interest to the mass of tourists.

Numerous languages could be heard, as people talked with others from their country, tried to make conversation with foreigners, or attempted to bargain with the vendors. Summer in Gallipoli was cheerful, despite the sorrow that lay behind the huge gathering. For the tourists, it was an opportunity to visit a new country, to pay respect to those involved in the war, and experience the world famous remembrance for all involved in WWI. For the street vendors, hotel owners, and companies, this was a great opportunity to sell as much as they could, at absurdly high prices, to the oblivious tourists.

Now that it was winter though, the souvenir stalls were gone, and the whole place had an entirely different look to it. I once more turned to look up at the foreboding, uneven brown hills in front of me, and the contours of those stretching further back into the distance, forming small valleys. I eyed the single road winding up into the distance, leading to old, neglected trenches, alongside new, scrupulous memorials, with freshly clipped grass and flowers.

And I thought that THIS is the real Gallipoli. The one few people care to know, but the one that is unforgettably beautiful and peaceful in its own way, to those who do know it.

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