Eastern Express: A Unique Journey Through Time and Nature
The Eastern Express, or “Doğu Ekspresi” as locals call it, is not just a train journey. It’s an adventure on rails that takes you across the diverse landscapes of Turkey, offering breathtaking views and a distinct sense of nostalgia. This journey is a must for solo travelers, couples, adventure enthusiasts, budget travelers, and nature lovers. With its winding route through mountains, valleys, and traditional Anatolian villages, the Eastern Express promises an unforgettable voyage.
The Route of The Eastern Express
Departing from Turkey’s bustling capital, Ankara, the Eastern Express embarks on a 24-hour, approximately 1310 kilometers long journey eastwards, ending in Kars, a city rich in history near the Armenian border. The train meanders through a variety of landscapes, from the lush plains of Central Anatolia to the dramatic mountains and deep gorges of Eastern Turkey.
A Journey Through Time
What sets the Eastern Express apart is the sense of stepping back in time. The vintage train is reminiscent of a bygone era, with old-fashioned compartments and shared spaces encouraging conversations and friendships. As you traverse the Turkish countryside, you’ll pass by quaint villages, where time seems to have stood still, further reinforcing the journey’s charm.
Nature At Its Best
For nature lovers, the Eastern Express is an unparalleled experience. As the train snakes its way through the rugged terrain of Eastern Anatolia, the panorama shifts between verdant forests, towering mountains, and the sparkling waters of the Yeşilırmak River. During winter, the landscape transforms into a winter wonderland with snow-capped peaks and icy rivers – a sight to behold.
The Eastern Express also provides an insight into the rich cultural tapestry of Turkey. The final destination, Kars, is a treasure trove of history and culture, home to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ani. Exploring the city’s ancient ruins, medieval churches, and mosques feels like stepping into a history book.
Practical Information About The Eastern Express
Accommodation on the Eastern Express ranges from basic sleeper berths to private compartments, catering to different budgets and travel styles. There’s also a restaurant car serving local Turkish cuisine, although many travelers choose to bring their food, creating a communal picnic on wheels.
The Eastern Express operates daily, but the demand is high, so booking in advance is advised. Ticket prices vary depending on the accommodation type and can be purchased online or at train stations across Turkey.
Weather-wise, each season brings its charm to the journey. Spring offers blooming landscapes and pleasant temperatures, while summer allows for extended daylight hours to enjoy the scenery. Autumn is a riot of colors, and winter provides stunning snowy vistas. It’s advisable to pack according to the season and bring essentials like snacks, a water bottle, and a good book for the journey.
The train stops at several stations along the route, including notable cities like Kayseri, Sivas, and Erzurum. These stopovers offer opportunities to explore local sights, try regional food, or simply stretch your legs. However, be mindful of the train’s schedule to avoid being left behind. A stop in Sivas called Divriği is one of the best historical places in Turkey. This week, I am now in Divriği taking photos for you and I will write a brief blog post about Divrigi.
Final Words for The Eastern Express
The Eastern Express isn’t about getting from point A to B. It’s about the journey itself. The sights, sounds, and tastes experienced along the way make it more than just a train ride. It’s a voyage through the soul of Turkey, leaving you with memories that are as timeless as the journey itself. Whether you’re seeking solitude, a romantic getaway, a taste of adventure, or a closer communion with nature, the Eastern Express has something for every traveler. All aboard for an unforgettable journey!
A Personal Experience on Aboard the Eastern Express: My Trans-Anatolian Adventure ( writer: Eren Tuncay )
There’s something about train journeys that captivates the mind, don’t you agree? The rhythmic lull of the wheels on the tracks, the ever-changing scenery outside the window, and the gentle hum of life within the train carriage itself, all contribute to a uniquely immersive travel experience. That’s why, when I heard about the Eastern Express, Turkey’s legendary train ride, I knew I had to be on it.
My adventure began at Ankara, Turkey’s vibrant capital city. As I climbed aboard the classic train, with its comforting old-world charm, I couldn’t help but feel a tingle of anticipation. My compartment was cozy and inviting, the perfect setting for the 24-hour journey that lay ahead.
As the train pulled out of the station and made its way into the heart of Anatolia, I was greeted with an array of breathtaking vistas. Verdant fields stretched out as far as the eye could see, dotted with the occasional herd of grazing livestock and framed by distant mountains.
In the restaurant car, the delicious aromas of Turkish cuisine wafted through the air. Here, I enjoyed a simple but hearty meal of pilaf and kebab, and later a traditional Turkish tea, all while exchanging travel stories with my fellow passengers.
Nightfall on the Eastern Express was a spectacle in itself. As darkness blanketed the landscape, the train chugged on, its path illuminated by the soft glow of the carriage lights. It was a serene experience, one that I decided to savor by tucking into my bunk early, rocked to sleep by the gentle motion of the train.
Opening My Eyes to Eastern Anatolian Plains
Awakening to a stunning sunrise over the Eastern Anatolian plains, I knew the second day of my journey would be just as incredible. The train made its way through the towering mountains and deep valleys of Erzurum, the landscape outside transforming into a picture-postcard winter wonderland as we ascended.
Finally, after a day and a night of unforgettable sights, sounds, and flavors, the Eastern Express pulled into Kars. This charming city, known for its cultural heritage, greeted me with the promise of even more experiences to be savored. However, those, dear readers, are tales for another blog post.
In conclusion, the Eastern Express is not just a mode of transport, but an experience in itself. It offers an enchanting mix of nostalgia, natural beauty, and cultural immersion. Whether you’re a solo adventurer like me, a couple looking for a romantic getaway, or a nature lover seeking new landscapes to explore. This train journey has something for everyone.
As I disembarked, with a heart full of memories, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for this adventure on rails. As the saying goes, “It’s about the journey, not the destination” – and what a journey it was! I’ll see you later!