Eceabat's newest caravanserai - named after the AntipOdeon band and not the state of the accommodation - is housed in a spanking-new four-storey building just a hop, skip and a stumble from the ferry. The 24 rooms and three dormitories (each with six bunks) are basic but spick-and-span, with ultramodern bathrooms and nonallergenic parquet floors. There's a laundry service (TL 10), book exchange and a wonderful café-bar on the ground and mezzanine floors. Best of all is the welcome and the atmosphere, both warm and chilled.
The most convenient base for visiting the Gallipoli battlefields is Eceabat on the western shore of the Dardanelles,
Bülent 'Bill' Yılmaz Korkmaz
- Lonely Planet 2009 How's things in Oz?
- I don't know. I've never been to Australia. In fact, I've never been outside Turkey.
- But, your accent...
- I've been working as a tour guide on the peninsula for a dozen years. I'd say 90% of the visitors are from Australia and New Zealand. I guess the accent comes with the territory.
- Fair dinkum, so your people are fully appraised of the Anzac legend then.
- Oh, sure. They've learned all about the Gallipoli campaign in school and are usually well informed. I'd say more than 80% have a very good idea of what's what.
- Ever get any know-it-alls?
- That's not a problem but the British army sometimes sends over groups of historians or medical people or logisticians for three or four days. That's intensive and they can ask some pretty difficult questions.
- Is it difficult escorting the former enemy around?
- I like giving both sides of the story and I think they like hearing it. With a military group, though, I'll take the Turkish side.
- Are there any battlefields or cemeteries that people are particularly keen to visit or spots that especially move them?
- The Australians want to see Lone Pine and, of course, Anzac Cove. The New Zealanders are keen to get to Chunuk Bair. Everyone knows about The Nek - it's the last part of the Gallipoli movie. And everyone seems moved by Atatürk's message of reconciliation on the Ariburnu monument.
- Has all this time hoofing around battlefields affected the way you view war and peace?
- When I'm exploring on my own time, I think a lot about a whole generation of young men who were lost simply because a bunch of politicians said go and fight.
- On your own time? War and peace, love and marriage... Sounds like you're married to your job.
- I guess I am. In winter you'll find me roaming the peninsula, following old maps, exploring trenches, reading headstones. And I'm getting married this summer but we've had to postpone the honeymoon till the end of the year.
- Which - let me guess - will be somewhere along the Somme, right?
- It hasn't been decided but one thing's for sure - the place won't include any war sites.
Bülent 'Bill' Yilmaz Korkmaz (email@example.com) is a certified tour guide who leads groups around the battlefields, cemeteries and other sights of the Gallipoli Peninsula.