The pilgrimage begins



Dad and I flew from Dubai after spending a week with my brother and his family. It was good to see my niece again. The last time was 2013.

We flew up on an Emirates Boeing 777. Again we scored an upgrade. The flight was about four and half hours and was packed with Kiwis and Aussies. The first officer on the flight was an Aussie and I had a chat with him for an half an hour. He was jealous as all hell, his great father fought at Gallipoli and he wanted to go but missed out on the ballot.

We arrived in Istanbul, and the temperature drop from 30 plus degrees to just 11 degrees was a bit of a shock. ??

We are on a bus heading to Gallipoli today, where we will overnight at ANZAC Cove to be ready for the dawn service.

Stuff reports on what we have to go through today to get onto the peninsula, and Istanbul is crawling with Police and security.

All routes into the peninsula, and the national park, will close. Each visitor, pulled from a ballot and identified by a wrist band, and 200 media will pass through a ?tight net of security.

Carrying just small day-packs, they must sleep under the hillside until dawn breaks and won’t be able to leave for more than 24 hours. Alcohol, sleeping bags and umbrellas are banned. Each guest will pass through airport-style screening, guarded by armed police. Almost 11km of fence will keep them there. And they will be serviced by 600 Turkish staff, almost 400 chemical toilets, about 50km of cables and 8km of lighting, 45 power generators, 70 speakers and eight big screens.

I’m feeling excited and nervous…this really is a pilgrimage and there is room for sooks on this trip. Everyone is in the same boat except for the VIPs and the blouses in the media.

Tonight we will sleep rough but I’m picking the camaraderie of us all at ANZAC Cove will be like nothing experienced before.

This really is a bucket list trip…there is no power, internet and presumably cellphone coverage…I will be dark for 48 hours, but I have prepared my ANZAC tribute posts in advance for you.

If I can update I will, and when I get back to Istanbul I will post photos and video as I can.

Looking forward to this…it will be special and my great grandfathers medals will be there with me and Dad.