The last slow train in Turkey

We were travelling on the  Doğu Express leaves Ankara at 18:53 arriving Erzurum 16:53 and Kars 22:15 next day.        

The Train

We had booked sleeper berths and while we thought 90 lira s each was rather steep, we felt that after a day spent wandering the streets of Stanbul, followed by an over night bus journey, followed by another day roaming Ankara, we would be in serious need of a lie down. Wasn’t that the truth!

2012-14.1 Train station Ankara  (6)

By 6.30 we were tired and foot sore. We were blundering gormlessly along the platform looking for our carriage when we were intercepted by a smiling and extremely civil official. He asked for our tickets, smiled some more, then showed us the way to our cabin. How very strange. Our usual experience of train travel is of fighting our way through a scrum of peasants all shouting and shoving huge sacks of stuff in through the train windows.

And rather than being helped by ticket collectors, we are more used to having our tickets snatched at by bad-tempered, harried guards who scrutinize them as though they are forgeries and then tell us to hurry up and find our seats. And when we do find our bunks they are invariably occupied by a tangled haired family of 15, from ancient grandmother to squalling newborn, who we then have to evict but not before they have cursed us thoroughly us in some ancient and unpleasant sounding tongue.

Well perhaps not in Thailand but even in Thailand we were not treated like this.

The beaming courteous guide led us down quiet plush corridors and opened the door onto our own two berth, just for us, cabin. We had, via the medium of mime, unwittingly booked FIRST CLASS. I nearly wet myself with excitement. At best I was hoping for a four berth cabin without a baby, or a chain-smoking man. Instead we had our own room with two bunks which the guard showed us how to open and access via the little ladder. There was a wash basin a fridge, a plug socket and a tiny cupboard and air con. Oh joy.

2012-14.4 train to erzurum (3)

After unpacking we went to the buffet car which was nice enough. Nicer still was that the food, apart from the bread rolls that came individually wrapped in plastic bags, it was all plastic free, served on china plates with real knives and forks. By train standards, the food was pretty good and reasonably priced – apart from the beer which was outrageous.

2012-14.4 train to erzurum (9)

We had dinner and went back to our cabin and settled down for the night. We had a wonderful peaceful nights sleep, lay in for as long as we wanted next morning, and it was a long time. In fact we spent most of the day lieing in bed watching fantastic scenery glide past between our toes.

Well worth it.2012-14.4 train to erzurumSee our itinary and post index here

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