Just another scenic drive in Norway!
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Geiranger, Norway!

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Exploring southwestern Norway until July 26th.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

We might do one of the world's great train rides

We didn't do very much yesterday because the weather wasn't the best. We did do a short drive just for a change of scenery though. We ended up parked at a playground/park just outside the village of Kargicak. They even have a couple of electric outlets, and it's free. So, a good spot to spend the night when the solar panels aren't getting much charge during the day.

I wasn't going to tell you about our plan just yet, because it might not actually happen. But we don't have much else to talk about today, so here it is...

There is an inland train journey in Turkey called the Eastern Dogu Express. It's become known as one of the world's great train rides. It runs from Ankara to Kars... a distance of 1,310 kms (812 miles).

There are two different trains. One that is the local train that has standard seating and "couchettes" and takes 26 hours, and one that is specifically for tourists that has only sleeper cabins and takes 32 hours due to two different three hour stops along the way.

Apparently the best time to do the trip is in winter due to the landscapes at higher altitudes.

The only problem is that it's very popular, and it's very difficult to get tickets. I've been in contact with a travel agent who specializes in this, and here is what he told me... 

Tickets of the mainline trains are released 30 days before departure and when it comes to Eastern Express, all the couchettes and sleepers (sleepers are only available on the Touristic Eastern Express departing on Wednesdays and Fridays from Ankara and Fridays & Sundays from Kars) are sold out in seconds  Most of the seats are taken by tour groups, run by companies that pre-purchase entire wagons.
However normally in the last few days before the journey, or indeed the last few hours, the tickets that have not been resold, or any cancellations, are cancelled and therefore go on sale again.  At this stage we can buy them for you as long as you are able to be there (departure city) and  access your email a few hours before the journey.

What we can do for you, so you can make travel plan is this:

- You pay us the rate for the couchette/sleeper berths that you would like.
- At the first opportunity we will purchase (as availability allows) couchettes/sleepers or seats for you. (as tickets went on sale for the 16th of february 2 weeks ago we have missed this step already)
- If we are unable to get them for you at that stage ( 90% likelihood) we can buy you seats instead ( No seats available at the moment)
- We will continue to check for availability of them, all the way until 30 mins before the train departs.  At any time before departure, if we are able to change your tickets to Sleeper couchettes we will do this and send you the tickets by email.
- If we are unable to change the tickets, we will refund the difference to your account.

* Regular Eastern Express: Price of 1 couchette is 15€ in a 4 pax shared cabin. We can try to buy all 4 berths for 60€ in order to make a private cabin. 

* Touristic Eastern Express: Ticket of a double and/or single sleeper cabin  is 117€.  (Excursions are not included in the price).

If we were unable to get the tickets then you would receive a full refund,  If you wanted to cancel after we had sent the tickets the 35% service charge would be retained.

So, I think we are going to go for it. Just for the adventure! We would need to fly Antalya to Ankara (or Kars depending on which end we start from) and then back to Antalya afterwards. We would probably stay in Kars a few days, so we might be gone from Max for a week or so. Worst case scenario is that we end up with standard seats that recline for sleeping. Not the best, but we would survive. It's only for a night. Best case scenario, we end of with a full sleeper cabin. If we're looking at the bright side, the seats would be much cheaper!

We are flexible on the dates, which makes it easier to get tickets. This probably won't happen until late February or early March though. Flights in country are really cheap. For example, it's about $30 USD for a one way flight Antalya to Ankara.

In the meantime, we will continue in Max towards Antalya.

Max, parked at GPS 37.376302, 27.799451
He is filthy dirty and needs a bath!

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8 comments:

  1. My sister is doing a girlfriend’s trip and will be doing the train segment from Kars to Erzurum in March. I’ve read that doing that direction is better because you get to see the best scenery in daylight, whereas from Ankara to Kars you go through that area at night. No idea how true this is. Just thought I would mention it. Mui and I hope to do this trip the next time we find ourselves in Turkey in the winter time, so I will be looking forward to your experience and photos.

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    1. Good for her, I am sure that they will enjoy it! We have also read that this is probably the best direction to go but tickets are hard to get so we will just take what we can get providing of course that we can even get tickets. Trust us, if we get the tickets there will be plenty of pictures and we will certainly be writing about our experience. :-)

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  2. The train trip sounds grand! If you take it, where would you leave Max and how would you be sure he was secure? Thanks!

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    1. The train trip does sound like fun and it should be great experience.

      We aren't worried about finding a good spot for him in Antlaya, we are sure that there are lots of good secure places for him.

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    2. I guess what I meant was - how do you find a secure place? Campground? Paid parking lot with security? I've never left our rig behind when we were travelling. Thanks!

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    3. We will ask around with a few people that we know and if we can't find something that way then we will either park Max at the airport or a a secure parking lot. We really aren't to worried, it really is very safe. We see little caravans (travel trailers) parked up on the side streets and there is no damage done to them at all.

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  3. Wow sounds so exciting.Hope you are able to get the sleeper cabin since that sounds more touristy. Enjoy. Love your adventure so far. It is like we are on the trip with you instead of here with all this Covid stuff.

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    1. We hope it all works out too.We don't necessarily want "touristy" but what we do like about the tourist train is that it stops in two different cities/towns for 3 hours each so it gives us time to explore a couple of different places that we might not see otherwise.

      We are happy that you are enjoying our blog and seeing all the neat places that we have been and that it is a little bit of an escape from all the Covid news around you.

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