Saturday, 4 April 2009

Taking the Train from Istanbul to Konya

We began our trip around Turkey last summer with a train journey from Istanbul to Konya. As a method of travel, if you are not in a rush, I would certainly recommend it! It costs 45TL (about £19) per person, based on 2 people sharing a 2-berth cabin, and it leaves Istanbul at 7.20 every evening, arriving in Konya at 8.20 the following morning. However, there are invariably delays during the night, so don’t expect to arrive on time.

Tickets can be purchased from the international ticket office in Sirkeci station (on the European side of Istanbul) up to 30 days before departure.

Your train to Konya leaves from Haydarpaşa station on the Asian side of Istanbul, accessible by ferry from Eminönü on the European side. The station itself provides an impressive departure point for your journey. Completed in 1908, it was paid for by Kaiser Wilhelm II as a gift to his Ottoman ally, Abdül Hamit II.

I suggest that you treat your journey as an extension of your holiday, and get into the spirit of it from the off. Arrive early – your train will be in and waiting for you an hour before your scheduled departure time. Your carriage steward will show you to your cabin, and you can make yourself comfortable. The cabins are well-equipped with comfortable seats, which become your bunk beds at night, as well as a small sink (towel & soap provided), a spacious fridge (stocked with water, fruit drinks, and cakes!), and a pull-out table. There are showers and toilet facilities at either end of the carriage.

We had taken a well-chilled bottle of white & some nibbles with us which we enjoyed before departure, whilst watching the train fill up with Turkish families with their countless parcels, bags, and children!

Once underway, we went to find the restaurant car & enjoyed a very pleasant, reasonably-priced meal as we trundled through the city suburbs. Darkness descended quickly, so we didn’t get to see much, but we still enjoyed sitting there sipping our post-dinner coffee.

I am not the best sleeper in strange surroundings so I can’t say that I had a particularly restful night, but the beds were comfortable enough, and I enjoyed opening the curtains at 3am & seeing the biggest, most star-laden sky I had seen since leaving our home in France the previous year! We were both up early & so witnessed a spectacular sunrise before taking advantage of the restaurant car again for a 7TL breakfast.

We then proceeded at a very sedate pace indeed & arrived in Konya 3 hours later than scheduled, but at least it gave us an opportunity to see more of the Turkish countryside than we had anticipated!

TOP TIP: Don’t use the train if you have deadlines to meet, but if you haven’t & you want a very civilised, comfortable journey, then it comes highly recommended!

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