The Enchanting 30-Hour Train Journey That Sells Out Instantly

While Turkey boasts the renowned Orient Express as its final destination, it is the lesser-known Dogu Express, or Eastern Express, that is catapulting...

The Enchanting 30-Hour Train Journey That Sells Out Instantly
The Enchanting 30-Hour Train Journey That Sells Out Instantly
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While Turkey boasts the renowned Orient Express as its final destination, it is the lesser-known Dogu Express, or Eastern Express, that is catapulting the country into the realm of world-class rail travel. Originally a commuter train shuttling between Ankara and Kars, the Dogu Express has gained international acclaim, especially among Turkish influencers, for its breathtaking journey through the eastern landscapes, revealing hidden gems off the beaten path.

The Enchanting 30-Hour Train Journey That Sells Out Instantly

Noteworthy travel influencer Berry Romo, a resident of Turkey for over a decade, points out that the train was once a local and Turkish traveler favorite, with little recognition from foreign tourists. However, responding to the surging demand, the commuter service transitioned into a tourist route in 2019. Covering a distance of 1,310 kilometers (814 miles) from the vibrant capital, Ankara, to the occasionally snow-covered wonderland of Kars, this 30-plus-hour sleeper train weaves through scenic landscapes, punctuated by organized city excursions along the way.

The Enchanting 30-Hour Train Journey That Sells Out Instantly

The allure of the Dogu Express is undeniable, but acquiring tickets is notoriously challenging, often selling out within minutes. Romo shares the insider tip of checking the website right at midnight when tickets become available, emphasizing the competitive race to secure a spot on this coveted journey.

The Enchanting 30-Hour Train Journey That Sells Out Instantly

Departing from the bustling Ankara, the political heart of Turkey, the Dogu Express unveils a different kind of glamour. Home to the Ataturk mausoleum, the city boasts historical charm amidst its rapid development. The old quarter, Ulus, harbors Roman ruins, preserved passageways, and a hilltop castle offering panoramic vistas. Sanat Sokağı, or Arts Street, within Ulus, is a restored stretch of Ottoman houses turned cafes, leading to courtyards filled with handicraft stalls.

The Enchanting 30-Hour Train Journey That Sells Out Instantly

For a contemporary touch, CemModern, an art gallery housed in a renovated railway depot, offers diverse cultural events, from movie screenings to yoga sessions.

As the Dogu Express departs in the early evening, leaving behind Ankara's urban sprawl, the view transforms from cityscape to breathtaking landscapes. Sleeper cabins, adorned with personal touches like string lights and scarves, provide a cozy space to savor the scenery.

The journey includes a stop in Ilic, a village near the captivating Dark Canyon with its Stone Road, offering tourists a thrilling experience through tunnels, cliffs, and gorges alongside the Euphrates River.

The Enchanting 30-Hour Train Journey That Sells Out Instantly

Continuing east into the heartland of Anatolia, passengers witness the vastness of Turkey's landscapes, with the journey culminating in Erzurum. Romo describes Erzurum as an unforgettable experience, citing its rich history, culture, and gastronomy.

Famous for the Cag Kebab, Erzurum's local cuisine captivates travelers. After Erzurum, the Dogu Express inches closer to its final destination, Kars, renowned for its winter wonderland and unique architecture from its days under the Russian Empire.

The Enchanting 30-Hour Train Journey That Sells Out Instantly

Ummu Altunas, a lawyer from Istanbul, likens the east of Turkey to an entirely different country, given its diverse cultures. The medieval city of Ani, near Kars, invites visitors to explore ruins dating back 1,600 years, offering a journey through time.

While Turkey's eastern regions draw fewer tourists, locals extend warm Turkish hospitality to those eager to explore this less-traveled part of the country. Kaplan notes the gratification of being around people proud of their roots and considers embracing a less-frequented destination as something truly special."

The Enchanting 30-Hour Train Journey That Sells Out Instantly

14 Ara 2023 - 13:02 - Lifestyle

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