The Trans-Anatolian Express
In the tracks of the Orient and the colonial Baghdad Railway comes the Trans-Anatolian Express.
In Turkey, as in many Mediterranean countries like Spain or Portugal, cross-country travel is usually made in comfortable coaches - taking the train is a less obvious option than it is in Germany. And yet the country is blessed with an excellent railway network as well as fast, comfortable trains. The most famous of these is probably the Trans-Anatolian Express, or TAE, which traverses the peninsula of Asia Minor as a rolling hotel. Ten days on the road takes you from Istanbul down through Hatay to Antakya, if you book the Trans-Anatolian Express with Merke Tour. The journey in the train hotel begins in Istanbul, the metropolis on the Bosporus, and heads to Izmir on the Lycian coast, then traverses the high plateau of Anatolia to Cappadocia and winds on through the Taurus Mountains, tracing the route of the old Baghdad Railway to Antakya.
The route takes you through a wealth of tourist destinations and jewels of the region: the ancient cities of Pergamon, Ephesus and Pamukkale, the massifs of the Taurus and the coastline of the Turkish Riviera.
If you book the return journey, you will enjoy 18 full days on the Trans-Anatolian Express and be able to discover East Anatolia: The journey continues from Antakya through Kahta, past Mount Nemrut and up to Kars on the Armenian border. Luxurious coaches continue on to Lake Van and the biblical Mount Ararat. From Kars, the journey follows the coast of Turkey’s Black Sea to Trabzon and on to Askale, at which point the train hotel picks up the guests and travels on through the Turkish capital of Ankara and back to Istanbul.
For those who find 10 or 18-day journeys too long, it is of course possible to go on individual segments of the journey. The Trans-Anatolian Express experience is an unforgettable one: breathtakingly beautiful landscapes passing by, meeting other travellers, the excellent service of the German-speaking train staff and travelling companions, and all in the true comfort of stylishly furnished bedrooms, conference carriages and dining cars.
Travel on the Trans-Anatolian Express with the Turkish railway company TCDD in the 2013 season from 25 May - 11 June and from 21 September - 8 October.
You can book cheap flights to Istanbul, Izmir, Trabzon and Kars here.