Sunday, February 28, 2016

Anadolu Kavagi

You can't be an Aussie or a Kiwi and not know about the special modern relationship between Turks and Australians and New Zealanders. 

It's a friendship that has developed out of the horror of the First World War experience at Gallipoli.  Before the battle at Gallipoli, Turks and Anzacs (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) had never been in contact with each other neither in a political or economical sense.  Most Turks and Aussies and Kiwis would probably not have even known where the other's countries were. 

There's a famous Turkish tale that tells the story of two New Zealanders taken prisoner. They were asked where they were from. On being informed, the Turks said: "Never heard of New Zealand".  Some Germans who were eavesdropping explained it was a country in the Pacific, on the other side of the world. The incredulous Turks then demanded of their captives: "Why are you here?"  The prisoners said they thought it would be like playing an away game of rugby.

Today Turks, Australians and New Zealanders stand beside each other. They have a strong and friendly relationship.

Last year, at the quaint fishing village of Anadolu Kavağı, the last port before the Black Sea I experienced proof of this friendship. 

It was a hot day and after enjoying the sea breeze on a tour boat, it seemed even hotter in the tiny village with the mountains at it's back.   The first thing we wanted was an icecream and the cheerful icecream vendor asked where we came from.  Upon hearing that I lived in New Zealand he smiled and waved his arms in a welcoming gesture announcing, "Ahh, Kiwi.  You are welcome. We are friends."  He invited us to use the table and chairs in front of his shop, under the shade of the only big tree in the village.  We politely declined as we wanted to wander around and explore.  

For someone who wages war on feral cats I had been charmed by the cats of Istanbul.  There was at least one hanging around every eatery, sometimes a few, depending on the friendliness of the proprietor I guess.  In the village I found a lovely little ceramic cat to bring home for Georgia.

It really was too hot to wander far and when we returned to the area of the big shady tree we decided to take the icecream man up on his offer to use his table.  A few minutes later a man in a dirty apron with little order pad and pencil in hand came along and wanted to take our order.  Now we noticed the table was more in front of the fishmonger's shop than that of the icecream seller.  

We said we didn't want to buy fish.
He said the table and chairs were for his customers.
We said the man just there in the icecream shop had said we could sit there.

You didn't need to understand Turkish to work out the shouting that ensued.  The fish monger reinforced to the icecream vender who owned the table and chairs, he was fed up with the icecream vendor.  There was a bit of backwards and forwarding until the icecream vendor played his trump card.  The lady is a Kiwi, Kiwi, Kiwi.  Whereupon the fishmonger underwent a personality change and insisted that yes, Kiwi, we are friends, good friends, you must stay at my table, you are welcome.  The icecream vendor beamed.  The fish monger beamed.  I felt truly special.  

Sharing the shade of the big tree was a golden statue of Ataturk, a Turkish army officer, revolutionary and the first President of Turkey. He is credited with being the founder of the modern Turkey.


  1. What a wonderful story. At that moment you must have felt very honoured to be a Kiwi, and proud of the legacy that the ANZACS had bestowed on all of us.

  2. Those are the sorts of moments that make travel such a wonderful experience. I have been watching ANZAC Girls - just finished in fact. I really enjoyed it and enjoyed seeing that time in history from a different perspective. My grandmother was a nursing sister at that time, though she stayed behind and was a 'mine nurse', mining being an essential occupation. It was so interesting to watch a depiction of her time.
    Feral cats and dogs - they seem to follow me too.

  3. i like that story and the pretty little kitten too.

  4. Such an interesting story about your experience! I love the picture of the little kitty.

  5. aww poor little wee cat, I have a soft spot for strays, as for the vendors that's so neat they looked upon you as a kiwi always welcome there - so friendly :-)

  6. What a wonderful experience. I'm so glad our three countries can see past that horrific battle and offer friendship to one another - it makes me quite emotional actually.


  7. A lovely story Pauline. I enjoyed it very much. I had heard of Ataturk as my husband visited Turkey many years ago during his navy days, and learned all about him during his stay there, even bought a book about him later as he has always been interested in world history. How wonderful that you were so welcomed. Great photos and sweet little cat.

  8. What a wonderful experience you had being a Kiwi during your visit in Istanbul. The little kitty has such a cute little face.

  9. What would the world be like, i wonder, if everyone could have and be such friends! A beautiful story, and a beautiful cat.


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