Van Lake Express emerges as an ‘alternative’ to Eastern Express in Turkey
“The scenery is magnificent, especially during wintertime. The [Van Lake] Express can contribute significantly to regional tourism. It is important that people see the natural beauties along the route,” Yunus Emre Akdeniz, a university student, who traveled on the Lake Van Express, was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency.
The express links the capital Ankara with the eastern province of Bitlis’ Tatvan district and leaves the Ankara Train Station on Tuesdays and Sundays at 11:00 a.m. On the way back, the express departs from Tatvan on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 07:15 a.m.
The 25-hour journey sets off from Ankara for Tatvan via the provinces of Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya and Elazığ, respectively.
Even though the train passes through five provinces in total, 60 stations are on the route such as Şarkışla, Battalgazi and Muş. The express has a capacity to carry 320 passengers and has eight carriages.
“It is not a trip, it is a journey,” said another passenger.
Tatvan is ideally positioned to visit the historic town of Ahlat in Bitlis. Several kilometers long and just a few blocks wide, Tatvan’s setting on the shores of Lake Van is magnificent. It is also the western port for Lake Van steamers. So once getting off at the last stop, travelers can take the ferry in Tatvan to cross to Van.
After riding from Tatvan to Van through the Van Lake, the largest lake in Turkey, travelers are suggested to try the reputed Van breakfast, famous for its abundant proportions. Visiting historical sites and scenic beauties of Van, such as its castles, shores and museums, can render the trip even more zestful. Travelers also have the chance to enjoy the views of Mount Atatürk and Mount Nemrut in Tatvan.
The relatively cheap fare is important in drawing young crowds, especially students. One can buy a ticket for a price of 47 Turkish Liras ($8.95), 62 liras ($11.69), 96 liras ($18.10) or 116 liras ($21.87), depending on the wagon preference, on the Turkish State Railway’s (TCDD) website.
Passengers who rode the Lake Van Express also said they want to experience the Eastern and Southern Expresses as well.
The renowned Eastern Express, popularized after a group of Turkish tourists decided to share their experiences on social media, carried nearly 320,000 passengers in 2017.
Nowadays, Eastern Express’ tickets run out a day after they go on sale, thus tourists look for alternative lines, like the Lake Van Express.