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Travelling Turkey By Train- Kurtalan Express

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Kurtalan Express is the second train journey in this series I will be suggesting after the Eastern Express. However, I must say don't be fooled by the name Express with this journey! Even though it takes 24 hours just like the Eastern Express and as magical and fascinating as it is, this train route includes 70 stops until the final destination.

The journey starts from Ankara, the capital of Turkey, and ends at the Kurtalan town of Siirt which the express train was named after. Just like many other railways in Turkey, these tracks were laid after the Republic of Turkey was founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. His main goal was to cover Anatolia with rail tracks just like 'iron webs', until every town was accessible. And it will be fair to say that, by the time it was 1950's, the western and Eastern Turkey was connected by many rail tracks and frequent trains running each day.

Kurtalan Express was also a product of this ambitious project and since the first day it started running in 1944, it has carried soldiers, students, tourists to the eastern towns of Turkey and connected many people who were missing each other. Until the past year, long train journeys like Kurtalan and Eastern Expess were forgotten by many people and they were only seen as cheap and uncomfortable way of transportation.

Many thanks to millennials and people who appreciates the beauty of long train journeys, The Kurtalan Express is back with all its glory! Just like the Eastern Express, this train also offers little roomettes as well as the coach wagon. So you can either spend your journey in your own private room or chatting the hours away with the new people you meet in each stop.

On your way to Siirt, you may pick any station to get off and catch the train next day if you want to continue your journey. There are many cities worth a visit along the way, such as Malatya to taste delicious apricots, Kayseri for traditional and tasty mantı or Diyarbakır again for food and also historical sites.

There is also a rock and roll band founded by Baris Manco in 1972 which was name after this train service and I will link a video for you to watch:)

You can also check the Eastern Express story from here if you want to plan a train trip in Turkey.

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The author

Idil Birben

Idil Birben

I am Idil from Istanbul, Turkey, and am currently living in London. I write about my own experiences in these countries.

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