Breakfast was still palatable, but the evening meal would have been a major disappointment.
The passengers who are not in a hurry, want to rest and really enjoy travelling prefer Dogu Express which means a chance to have silence during min 25 hours on 1000-km-long way from Ankara to Kars.
The locos were as good as ever, and the full loads with a DE24 on the mixed trains made them very entertaining, especially for those of us who like the Pielstick engines in other locos too.
No one who books this slow train to Tehran is in any hurry to reach their final destination.
In the almost untouched and fascinating landscape, there are from time to time sign of human civilization.
In three car express l could listen the sound of diesel engine while the train was going up to the mountains.
It was supposed to be an overnight sleeper, but I learnt online that the engineering works in Bulgaria are causing disruption and resulting in rail replacement buses. Lets find out for real!
The route to Kars through the high snowy mountains and deep valleys by Dogu Express is probably the best long-distance choice in Turkey. I strongly recommend this route to all rail travellers.
In the dining car the usual socializing was in full progress, with a bunch of other foreign travelers mixing with Iranians already in a hospitable mood.
Train was not crowded, thus we spent all 28-hrs together in the same compartment and became close with everyone, got many good friends.
I remember asking the conductress whether there was WiFi on the train, oddly enough the conductress did not speak a single word of English – she did not even understand the words WiFi or internet.
Despite his limited English and our nonexistent Farsi, he extended a warm welcome, sharing sweets, teaching us Farsi phrases, and offering us hospitality in his home in Tehran.
The Turkish restaurant has some great meals for reasonable prices under 10 Turkish Lira. But do practice your Turkish with the restaurant car attendant and you will get what you want. I asked for Chips and Cola but i got sausage and milk.
The short, four-car train has a restaurant, but passengers prefer to squeeze in their tight compartments. Public space in Iran is a synonym for restrictions, limitations and control, so people spontaneously gather within four walls, where they can be themselves.
The incredible bouncing, causing me to doubt my incredible ability to sleep anywhere, anytime; forty-five minutes standing in line in the wee hours of the new day waiting for an exit stamp from Turkey.
Passengers look after each other, share food, play music and exchange stories, before parting ways and starting their new lives in a land that many of them have never visited before.
With very few exceptions, almost all of the passengers were either asylum seekers or families of those who had previously escaped the country. Some fearful for the life and
others simply searching for a better time ahead.
Instead, we found a plush, clean four-person compartment with free water, snacks, and functioning electrical outlets.
As we approached Tatvan, where we will change to a ferry on Lake Van, we were travelling through snow and the scenery was breath-taking.