Overland 1972 - Day 33


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March 15th 1972
Published: March 20th 2013
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Day 33 - Wednesday 15th March

The long train journey from Istanbul continued. From first light onwards, the scenery had no character whatsoever - it was just unchanging desolation - rocks, little vegetation and occasional villages and lots of snow. However the sun was shining through the train window bringing some welcome warmth. The train was full of salesmen - soft drinks, tea, water, grapes, bread, perfume, rings, belts, clothes, scarves and oranges - not sure what quality the food would be. There were also several beggars asking for money.

Outside the window adjacent to the corridor, crowds gathered. For nearly all of the journey there were people just staring at our every move - completely fascinated - it was disturbing. Eventually we hung a ground sheet against the window to block their view. It worked reasonably well and had the added advantage of discouraging the salesmen but the very inquisitive still found the minutest of cracks to peer through.

I walked through the train with Heather in search of the restaurant car to buy some drinks. It was unnerving as we had been warned about "bottom pinchers" and the train was regularly thrown into darkness as we passed through several tunnels. When we arrived back to the carriage, two Turkish men had decided to join us. They just sat and stared and as they did not speak any english, it was more disturbing - they were going all the way to Erzurum which was still 24 hours away ! Later a young english speaking Turkish man came into the carriage. He asked the other two men to leave and told another in the corridor that it was shameful to stare. The lad was quite extreme in his views - Arabs, Israel, Timothy Davey (the english man jailed for drug offences), guerilla warfare and Ulster. Later in the evening we were playing cards when another group of men tried to enter the carriage but we beckoned that the seats were full. There had been two French people walking along the train earlier and we thought that they might be safer with us but we could not find them - after my losses in Istanbul and other warnings of pickpockets, we were keen to minimise the risk of theft. As the evening passed, we switched off the lights and luckily were not disturbed again. At midnight, Bob gave up the luggage rack and although it was very narrow, at last I could lie down flat and have a better chance of sleeping.

We had no proper meals today only bread, cheese and fruit.

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