Monday, October 13, 2008

Overcoming Bad Advice: The Best Night Train Ever.

So, all the guide books, hoteliers, and people say that buses are the way to go in Turkey. Trains are disorganized, frequently late and slower. Take buses. Everyone says, oh, the buses are so nice. Just take an overnight bus and you can sleep on it. It will be great, if you can sleep on night buses (this last phrase is said like it is fine print).

I HATE night buses. My experience from Lithuania into Poland was among the nastiest times of travel that I can remember. Actually, it was probably the worst. I could sleep, off and on, miserably.

So I did some reading. There is one Turkey guru who says it is all poppycock. We should use that word more often (although he didn’t actually say it). He says that trains are indeed slower, and reminds us that they are far more comfortable, far cheaper, and that you can rent cabins too.

Fortunately, we weren’t on a tight schedule, so last night we took a night train from Izmir (Smyrna) to Ankara, the capital. It was sixteen hours, and was supposed to be 13.5. That may sound awful to you. To us, it was heaven.

For the same price as a bus, we rented a first class cabin for two. We basically had a concierge, showers available, and a beautiful room with a sink to boot. There was freebie food in our fridge, and the ride was comfortable, safe and quiet. We loved it. There are few security concerns (if you do ever plan to do this, please be sure to ask us about them), and we were able to relax and just enjoy ourselves. We were fully refreshed when we had to work on the next leg of our journey today. And, since we were late, we got to sleep in.

The next leg was a bus, which was indeed important because we ended up facing some time constraints. Fine. The bus was very comfortable, and it had a sort of “flight attendant” who served us coffee, water, snacks and the like constantly.

Despite that, the train was the way to go. The guidebooks don’t always hold the key!

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