October 2017 Turkey, Georgia, Armenia. Part 2: Turkey, The Dogu Express

The Dogu Express, Turkey

The train station in Ankara is a 1930’s looking building with curving brass door handles and glass-paned doors. The brand spanking new high speed terminal next to it is not – it is huge and shiny with western shops and escalators. No trains were arriving or leaving from anywhere else however, so for our non ‘high-speed’ train we had to wait for a replacement bus, UK -style. No one knew how long we would have to wait, only that our sleeper train left from some country station an hour or so from Ankara. As a result, we just hung around not going to a supermarket for fear of missing the bus. We had half a carton of orange juice, the chewy bread, the sheep’s cheese and the cucumbers. Several hours later we arrived at a lonely platform and waited in the dark and starry night with about 30 other passengers, standing on the tracks. Eventually, a train slowly rolled along the platform and we all dragged our luggage up the steep steps into the carriages. It was the Dogu Express. Our fellow passengers seemed to be mostly elderly men with knitted striped hats holding prayer beads. They had large plastic bags with some kind of produce that they were bringing from the west to the east. They had round bellies and kindly worn faces. Other passengers clambering up onto the train were elderly couples, or the odd single traveller with a scrappy briefcase. There were no tourists except us, and few people made for the the 7th and last carriage; the one with beds. The train slowly left the empty station and headed off east into the misty night, on its 26 hour journey. Continue reading “October 2017 Turkey, Georgia, Armenia. Part 2: Turkey, The Dogu Express”

October 2017 Turkey, Georgia, Armenia. Part 1: Istanbul

Sultanahmet, October 2017

How did we end up on a train trundling through Turkey’s Anatolian Plateau in late October ? There were certainly no other tourists…

Scott was turning 40 and we wanted to mark it with a trip. An adventure. So we watched the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest in May to help us make up our minds where to go. There were three categories in our plan. And we both wore outfits.

1. Who we thought would actually win according to Eurovision judges;

2. Who we thought was the best and should really win but probably wouldn’t;

3. Which acts made their country look like somewhere we really should go.

The third list ended up with 5 contenders including Hungary and Azerbaijan. But in the end we agreed on Armenia for Artsvik’s heady mix of exotic, sweet and cool.

You can watch the entry here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g373Libigw8

Incidentally, our categories 1 and 2 were amazingly, for Eurovision, the same. But that’s another story…

Continue reading “October 2017 Turkey, Georgia, Armenia. Part 1: Istanbul”