16th November 2017 – Ankara to Kars on the Dogu Express.
Well its five years since we were last here in Ankara and embarrassingly that means its five years since my last blog post but as this is a a trip to remember……
The story so far – this is an epic birthday treat travelling all the way from London to Baku, Azerbaijan by train and here we are in Ankara five years since our last trip to Georgia via Turkey.
Both occasions we took the wonderful Dogu Express from Ankara to the very east of Turkey but this time due to a complete reconstruction of the railway station, the train would start from Irmak, a non-place about 1 hour by road to the east of Ankara. All we had to do was find the old railway station where the coach service would be leaving from, after arriving by train from Istanbul in Ankara’s impressive brand new station mall.
It seems so simple – you find the ticket desks and take a token to get your turn, but the token machines were broken, therefore all the ticket windows were fair game and I soon had the answer – the coach would leave from the old station concourse – the ticket lady gestured left and left again so we duly followed the general direction into the road below assuming she meant to go outside before turning left. No sign of the old station there though, but google maps had a plan which we followed – to cut a long (1km long) story short we walked out and round the perimeter of the enormous new station when in fact turning left at the ticket office whilst still in the concourse would have taken us to exactly the same place within a few yards.
Never mind, we found our coach where in true Turkish style all the other passengers were milling around outside, smoking. We chose our seats and settled in for the one hour journey. Some confusion over the departure time from Ankara – clearly this is up to the coach driver, as tickets said 17:30 but we actually set off at 17:10. Perhaps another coach would follow.
Irmak station was down a narrow lane and almost in darkness. I’d expected the train to be there ready and waiting for us, but actually there was no sign of it at all, and a huddle of people were milling around on the tracks. There wasn’t even a proper platform.