Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Turkey by Train

I'm crazy about trains. I have been all my life and my daughter Maya was too. Even as a toddler she would get excited and say "Choo Choo, Choo Choo," whenever the Roaring Camp train would pass by our house, and we would run out to wave at the tourists. She was crazy about Thomas the Tank Engine. While most Americans rarely travel by train, little Maya, Daniel and I took the train to DC for her first Christmas. And when she was two years old I got us a month pass on Amtrak so we went up to Seattle, Montana and Pennsylvania by train.

So when I heard that Turkey has trains, I decided I would leave my friends with the rented van, and strike off on my own by train. My new friend Gwenn also likes trains, so she decided to join me. We've been having a great time, first on a 5-hour trip from Kars to Erzurum, where we spent a day. Then we took the 20-hour overnight train to Ankara where we're staying in Phyllis' apartment while she and Marna are still exploring northeastern Turkey. Phyllis wasn't very encouraging about the quality of train travel in Turkey, but Gwenn and I were pleasantly surprised. The train is comfortable, scenic, and very reasonable priced.

View from the train. Notice the Turkish crescent and star on the windows. Very cool.

Hurrying to catch the train

Passing idyllic settings and quaint towns

At first we had the whole train car to ourselves. More passengers boarded as we rode from Kars to Erzurum, but it never even got half full.

More passengers boarding the train.

We passed beautiful old bridges along the way.

Most of the Turkish train stations are painted yellow, my favorite color.

We even got some great views of some castles. This one was at Hasankale. Kale means "castle" in Turkish.

And of course every village had at least one mosque with its towering minarets.
Much of Turkey is agricultural. It reminded me of California's Joaquin Valley.

Turkey's emblem reminds me of Cat Steven's song "The Boy with the Moon and Star on his Head."

There it is again, like seeing red, white and blue all over the US.

The bathrooms on the train were quite clean, but try squatting on a rocking train.

Gwenn took 600 pix on our two train trips.

Okay, so I liked the window etching.

The train follows the Euphrates River for hours and hours. So breathtaking.

I was impressed at the renovation of the train tracks. The ride was really smooth.

The Euphrates again.

More track improvement.

The food in the dining car was great and not expensive.

We had a lentil soup.

And we shared a chicken kebab dinner. Yum!

If you ever travel in Turkey, be sure to do some of your exploring by train!


Unknown said...

Ohhh Chealse! You are the source of my inspiration for my future travels :)

Carole Chelsea George said...

Thanks, Abdurrahman. It was nice meeting you in Erzurum. Hopefully next time I'll see you in California.