Greetings to the Anatolia and Anatolian people, who still preserve their naturalness, help everyone without thinking! This geography is really waiting to be discovered with the teas drunk in the village coffees accompanied by a warm conversation. Kars, Van and Ağrı provinces have already started to be explored thanks to the Eastern Express and the Van Lake Express, and it has been very good.
The natural and historical beauties of the city of Kars being discovered thanks to this fabulous train. Located on the Armenian border, this city offers an unforgettable experience with its historical buildings from the Russian period and its Ani ruins. In my opinion, the vitality that the Eastern Express brought to Kars seems to rejuvenate the population in this city. Kars and its surroundings, where many university students hit the road and wander to explore, never lose their energy despite the cold.
Who wouldn’t want to have this experience, which is very popular especially in the last few years and has been the dreams of everyone? It is incredible to have this experience that makes you fall in love with the scenic roads, train windows with colourful lights, the friendliness of the people of Kars! Everyone is in the queue for tickets for more than the 26-hour train journey and the Eastern Express, where the concept of time has lost its meaning. I think that, you have questions in your mind such as “How will we find that ticket?” “Do ticket sales take place at certain times?” “Where will I find the patience to buy this ticket?” Now, you should listen to my tips so you can experience the Eastern Express before winter ends.
First, ticket sales go on sale one month in advance. In other words, you can buy tickets for any day you want until one month after your current date. Ticket sales are online on the TCDD (Turkey railways website) website. There is no set time for ticket sales. That is why; you need to check this site frequently to buy tickets for the date you want. As soon as ticket sales start, tickets are sold out in 10-15 minutes. Therefore, check the site frequently and refresh the page. Also, check frequently for dates showing that all tickets are sold out. Sometimes the people who buy the ticket cancel the tickets and thus your chance of finding a vacant seat increases.
By the way, it is a good idea to buy a one-way train ticket, because you will be traveling for more than 26 hours anyway. Since you will also visit Kars and its surroundings, it will be more comfortable and ideal to return by plane. Traveling by train on the Ankara-Kars and Kars-Ankara lines is nice. However, it is much more difficult to find a ticket for the train that departs from Ankara at 18.00 every day to Kars. The train route is in the form of Ankara – Kırıkkale – Kayseri – Sivas -Erzincan – Erzurum – Kars. The train only takes passengers and continues on its way. Therefore, you do not have time to smoke or get some fresh air. However, at the main stops like Sivas, Erzurum and Erzincan, there are breaks for about 8-10 minutes.
When you do some research for train tickets, you will see different types of wagons such as pulman, örtülü kuşetli (covered bunk) and yataklı vagon (sleeper wagon).
Pulman: This wagon with normal seats on the train is quite uncomfortable for a long journey. It seems a little difficult for you to experience the Eastern Express journey of your dreams in the pulman wagon, which is not much different from the bus.
Örtülü Kuşetli: The seats in this wagon, which is in the form of a 4-person room, become bed and the officer gives you clean linens. In this wagon, you make your own bed. If you are going on this journey as a group of four, it may seem a bit narrow and stuffy for you. But for a trip for two, this wagon is definitely ideal. In order to travel for two people in this wagon, you must buy the seats for four people, that is, the entire wagon. There is one socket on this wagon, so it might be good for you to take an extension cable with you.
Sleeper Wagon: The wagon where it is most difficult to find tickets is definitely the sleeper wagon. The sleeper wagon, which also has a refrigerator, a table and a sink and two sockets, is in the form of a small room for two people. You can also choose this wagon for a peaceful and quiet journey where no one will disturb you.
You can easily place your luggage in both covered bunk and sleeper wagons. Especially in the covered bunk, you can open one of the empty beds and place all your belongings here. The linens provided by the train officer are clean. As you travel in the middle of winter, the landscapes you see are endless mountains and roads under the snow, so there are inevitably question marks about the temperature of the train. Do not worry, the train is very hot. Each room has a panel to adjust the temperature, so you set the temperature of your room yourself. The door to your room is locked from the inside, but unfortunately not from the outside. By the way, smoking is not allowed on the train, but you can smoke in your room as long as you open your window and lock your door.
There is also a dining wagon on the train. You can sit at the tables here and drink tea, coffee or hot drinks. There is also a breakfast and dinner menu in the dining wagon. There is no alcohol sale on the train, but if you shop for food and drinks before getting on the train, you can eat and drink as much as you want in your own room. Nobody comes and bothers you.
During the train journey, your phone’s internet does not work for most of the way. Landscape photos taken with the train on the winding roads come out great. You have to go to the last wagon to take beautiful pictures. Thus, you can easily fit the train and its surroundings into the frame. Before you come to Erzurum train station, the officer asks you if you will order Cağ Kebap (it is a horizontally stacked marinated rotating lamb kebab variety, originating in Erzurum Province). If you want, you can order cağ kebap from Gel Gör Kebap by telling the officer or by calling the restaurant yourself. When the train stops in Erzurum, you can get off the train and get your kebab right away; the courier of the restaurant brings the kebabs to the station. You should definitely try this flavour unique to Erzurum.
Be sure to shop for food and drinks before you start your train journey. Take a garbage bag, kettle, mug or paper cup, toilet paper, speakers and games with you. Do not forget to make a special playlist for the train ride. It is very enjoyable to play games and listen to music when you are alone with your roommate, as it is impossible to watch the scenery at night. It is great to watch the snow-covered landscapes until it gets dark. Make sure to experience the Eastern Express in winter.
During my train journey, I experienced how true the saying “Happiness is on the road, not at the end of the road”. Eastern Express takes you to beautiful roads and beautiful friendships. So what are you waiting for?
Go, travel, explore… life is beautiful when you travel!
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