Belfast, United Kingdom
54° 34' N 5° 56' W
Jun 29, 2010 19:30
Distance 0km

Text written in: English

New plans outlined


I have somewhat digressed over the past few days and have not fully explained the change to our travel plans.  From Istanbul Haydarpasa we were to head south-east towards Antioch, Aleppo & Damascus.  Instead we plan to head directly east by train to Kars near the Armenian frontier.  It's a 36 hour run from Istanbul to Kars; a chance to experience Turkish Railways and visit a remote area within striking distance of  Georgia, Armenia and Iran.

All going well, we will travel approximately 3,000 miles, almost completely by rail, from Belfast to Kars.  When we arrive at Ani, about 27 miles from Kars, once the centre of a medieval Armenian kingdom, we will be further east than Moscow.  The Ani ruins are right on the modern Turkish/Armenian frontier.  From here we will return to Ankara, then Istanbul, before flying to Tel Aviv to continue our trip across Israel and Jordan.  It will be useful to reflect upon the religious remains at Ani when we visit St James' Armenian Cathedral in Jerusalem. 

Sometimes I believe that it would be more restful to have a 'normal' holiday, travelling to one destination only, enjoying a period of relaxation.  Where do I get this restless urge to travel?  Perhaps it is in response to family holidays close to home over 30 years ago?  I have always loved to get out maps and timetables, exploring the possible.  My first independent adventure (1984) involved travelling from Aberdeen to Dover by rail and then across the English Channel by ferry to Calais.  This trip only allowed for three hours in France, but it was a start.  Back in 84 I enjoyed the Caledonian Sleeper service from Aberdeen to London, so in some respects I will be returning to my travel roots when we embark tomorrow night on the sleeper service from Glasgow.  I recall the words of Paul Theroux: 

"Ever since childhood, when I lived within earshot of the Boston & Maine, I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it.  Those whistles sing bewitchment: railways are irresistible bazaars..."

 The Great Railway Bazaar - Page 1 

There is nothing quite like a rail adventure, whether it be Belfast to Londonderry, Moscow to Irkutsk or Howrah (Calcutta) to New Delhi.  Perhaps I will soldier on for a while yet, after all I have not travelled from Bangkok to Singapore or Darwin to Adelaide.  There is a very large world out there!