I wish there were more railway lines in Turkey. I love a good train journey but was only able to take one rail journey in my time in Turkey, a 3 hour ride between Denizli (for Pamukkale) and Selcuk (for Ephesus).
The train journey between Denizli and Selcuk is faster than the bus and cheaper, at less than 15 Lira. Amazing. The train station in Denizli is pretty non-descript and I would have missed it if it were not for the signs and my map research the day before. The tracks are below street level so looking for a railway crossing didn’t help.
The trains themselves are quite comfortable and my seat near the end of the carriage had lots of leg room and even a power point. I managed to knock out a blog post during my journey.
The romance of it all
I like train journeys far better than bus journeys. There is more space and people move around, sometimes they make eye contact and talk to each other. On a bus, I often feel cocooned in my little seat by the window, separated from other travellers by half a foot of aisle but a chasm of ‘space’. On a train, there can be much more human contact.
People in Turkey are friendly and hospitable, even when not working in the hospitality industry. Half way to Selcuk the train became incredibly crowded. People struggled with and helped each other with enormous suitcases. All the seats were occupied. The aisles were crowded with people and there was no longer standing room only. I found myself sitting next to an older Turkish lady. I smiled at her and she smiled at me. She said a few Turkish words and I indicated that I didn’t speak Turkish. There was more smiling. A good start. I went back to reading my Kindle.
My old lady became intrigued by the foreigner, leant over my shoulder and read out loud from my book in English but not understanding what she read. Her pronunciation was surprisingly good.
A young man standing in the aisle greeted me in English and we struck up a conversation. He used to be a tour guide and was on his way to universities all over the country to apply for a Masters degree in tourism. It turns out that in Turkey you have to apply in person so he had travelled that route a lot. He gave me some travel tips for Ephesus and for the rest of my travels in Turkey, and my future travels in Turkey. We agreed I would need to come back in summer time and explore the East.
My guide and my old lady started chatting and my guide started translating. My old lady wanted to know why I was travelling alone and said that I was very brave. The three of us talked about our countries, travel, our jobs and families. All the things people chat about when they first meet.
My old lady wanted my email address so that she could introduce me to her son, who was working in Athens, Greece (possibly as a diplomat but I might have made that up). She was very disappointed to find out that Barry existed but she still offered to buy me a snack from the roving train seller with a long pole stacked with bagels. I offered to send her my sister (sorry, Mel and Matt!) and we had a good laugh.
She took my email address anyway so if it doesn’t work out with Barry it looks like I might have a back up.
There is romance to train travel.