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Team Turkey’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 11 Sep 2008

Location: Overnight train to Turkey, Greece

Map After our usual packing up routine, we walked to the local railway station and caught the 12 o'clock train for an hour then literally ran with all our bags to catch another train on a different platform for a further 2 hours. We found ourselves in the city of Thessalonika where we had a 4 hour wait until our next train. After buying our tickets which took a while because the next leg of our journey
would take us from Greece back into Turkey, we put all our bags into lockers then set out to explore. We visited a 7th century Bizantine church then walked into the main part of the city. Thessalonika is the second biggest city in Greece and is a port city on the Agean Sea. We ate a quick dinner washed down with a beer down near the water then caught a taxi back to the railway station.

Our overnight sleeper train which cost about $85 (Aust) left at 7.30pm. Each berth slept 2 people so Maree and I were in one cabin and the fellas in the other. Luckily we had dinner because, to our surprise, there was no buffet car! The four of us squashed into one cabin and played cards ("Contract") until about 1am, while we drank very small quantities of Kitron, a liquor from the Greek island of Naxos (tastes similar to Contreau).

Our train journey was very interesting! Firstly, we were all woken about 4am to hand over our passports to the Greek immigration officials who wanted to check our faces against our passport photographs. About 30 minutes later we were woken again when our passports were returned. When the train crossed the Turkish border about an hour later we were again woken but this time it was to hand over our passports to the Turkish immigration officials.
And about 30 minutes later our passports were returned! The train stopped at a small town on the Turkish border where the officials got onto the train and at the same time Bradley had to get off with about 20 others to get a new visa as his had run out. What an ordeal!! Lucky Maree is deaf because she slept through the whole thing and woke up quite refreshed in the morning! Actually we told Maree when we first went to bed that the train would arrive back in
Istanbul after 7.30am as this was the information we had. She must have set an alarm because at 7.15am she woke me up. Maree was all ready to alight! I looked out the window and there were fields and no sign of any buildings. I told her to go back to bed as I was exhausted from lack of sleep and I knew that the train staff would wake everyone up before we got to the station. Poor Maree...we forgot to tell her we would be woken!
Finally, we were woken about 8.30am and our train finally arrived at Istanbul just after 9.30am. We had been on the train for 14 hours!!