On the 16th of April, 2013, a group of 11 students and teachers boarded their 11 hour flight to Korea. After staying overnight at Hyatt hotel, they flew another 10 hours to land at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul.
Prior to the trip, students and teachers from both Mt Roskill Grammar School (MRGS) and Avondale Intermediate School (AIS) attended six weeks of Turkish lessons. The purpose of the lessons was to introduce the participants to the Turkish culture and language. The lessons also enabled the students and teachers to become familiar with one another and PIF, the organizer of the trip.
There were two students and two teachers from MRGS. Similarly, there were two students from AIS but only one teacher who was accompanied by his wife. Also, one of the AIS student’s grandmother joined the group. One director and a Youth Platform member were chosen as Tour Leader and Tour Leader Assistant.
During the trip, the major tourist attractions and big cities were toured. Starting off at Istanbul, mosques such as Sultan Ahmet, palaces such as Topkapi Palace and Museums such as Hagia Sofia were visited. The participants were able to experience Turkish hospitality because they were often hosted in local Turkish homes. Another aspect of the Turkish culture that the participants were able to experience was the art of Ebru and calligraphy.
In Bursa, the participants experienced snow on Uludag, also known as the great mountain. After buying many beautiful Turkish scarves from the silk bazaar, it was time to travel to Izmir, a beautiful city on the coast of Turkey. In Izmir, one of Turkey’s most prestigious schools, Yamanlar College was visited. On the second day of Izmir, the archaeological sites of Ephesus were explored.
On the 24th, the group traveled to Canakkale from the coast of the Aegean sea. After visiting the 4000 year old Troy and Assos sights, the participant went to bed early to get enough rest for the highlight of the trip: ANZAC day.
Waking up at 2 AM and taking a ferry to Gallipoli at 3 AM as part of the protocol, the group attended the ANZAC dawn service along side VIP. After the dawn service, the group joined the breakfast held on honor of the New Zealand and Australian ambassadors.
The participants had the opportunity to meet the New Zealand Ambassador, Taha MacPherson, the New Zealand Defense Minister, Jonathan Coleman, and the General Manager and Secretary of War Pensions, Rick Ottoway.
Thank you very much to the vali, his yardimci Mr. Alper Faruk Gungor and the members from the valilik for the arrangements of the accommodation and the group joining the VIP convoys. It was highly appreciated.
After the breakfast, the group joined the Australia commemoration and New Zealand memorial service, again as part of the VIP attendees.
A long drive to Istanbul then started and after a late dinner with the families at Tekirdag, the group arrived to Istanbul. On the 11th day of the trip, The Grand and Egyptian Bazaars were visited. On the 12th day, Forum Istanbul, the biggest shopping mall in Europe was visited and the participants enjoyed the beautiful sights of Bosporus during a yacht tour. Finally, on the last day after a 2 hour visit to the Miniaturk park and lunch at Gulluoglu Restaurant and Café, the group was dropped off at the airport to travel back to New Zealand.