We left Istanbul on Saturday to catch a night train to Goreme in Cappadocia . Before we left we had to make an arrangement with the concierge of the Armada hotel to drop off our passports, our Syrian visa applications and our letter of introduction from the Irish consulate , along with colour photographs and 180 euro to the Syrian Embassy on Monday morning between 9am and 11am . Hopefully we would have our applications approved and picked up sometime between 2pm and 4pm that afternoon, ready for us to collect on our return from Goreme.
Syria was our next destination. I had already been to the embassy with all of the above bar the color photographs, I had brought black and white shots, the same ones from all of our passports but was told they wouldn’t be acceptable hence the hotel helping out. The taxi from the hotel was going to bring us east into the Asian side of Istanbul for the first time . We could see the bridge up ahead when suddenly we hit a wall of Saturday night busy traffic, assured by our driver that it would dissappear once we crossed over the bridge into the east we sat back and counted the minutes till our train departure.
Arriving at the station we were directed to carriage number 1 at the head of the train, the train being about 30 carriages long we made a dash for the front which took some doing with all of our luggage and two kids in tow. Upon finding the first carriage to be 6 seater compartment and not 4 berth sleeper I began to internally panic. Seeing Lisa’s face when she saw our compartment contained a glass eyed Turkish fellah having a smoke the panic doubled. How could I have fucked up with the tickets, probably very easily but I was sure I had bought the correct ones. ‘I am not going in that carriage with that guy smoking with the glass eye”,There had to be an explantation and luckily enough there was.......... We had been incorrectly directed to the first carriage, thank Christ! and were subsequentially directed to carriage six, 4 berth sleepers all. Just seeing the faces on Axel and Elka as they got into there bunks on an all night train journey will stay with me forever, they were in heaven. As far as Axel is concerned this is still the highlight of the journey, probably Elka too if she could elucidate it.
Seeing Lisa’s face was good too, she seemed to be enjoying the experience as well. I remember looking accross at Lisa, we were on the top bunks, and seeing a look on her face I hadn’t seen in some time, she seemed to be happy and relaxed, it was great too see, maybe the combination of the hamman that day and the novelty of train travel with all of us together was doing her some good The toilets definetely weren’t though and after her first visit she came back in awe of what she had seen .Within the 10 minuits of departure our rather large female neighbour had removed her jeans , washed them in the tiny sink , soaked the bathroom and hung the jeans out of the bathroom window to dry !
We woke up the next morning to find that our first class carriage (It’s not what it sounds like)was sealed form the rest of the train and that there was no dining car. Luckily we were well prepared, we had chocolate milk and Cheerio’s amongst some other provisions we had picked up the day before. So we had a really great breakfast, all of us together in our little cabin on the train to Cappadocia. The only thing missing was a nice coffee, plenty of turkish tea though. Long distant train travel is definitely a peasant’s or a masochists form of transport, unless it’s the Orient Express . After 16 hours we still had not reached our destination and eventually after 19 hours travelling we arrived in Kayseri ....in the pissings of rain but we did have lots of fun .