Time is running out in Turkey and the next border is not yet within reach. We need a transport option to get us from Ankara to the south-east of the country. Travelling by train is a delight for us and the homepage of the Turkish train network promises that bicycles are also welcome. Perfect, we want to take the train.
We go to the ticket office and what luck, exactly one double sleeping compartment is still free on our desired date, even the lady at the counter is happy for us. If it weren't for the bicycles. Once again, Google Translator is our only means of communication besides hands and feet. She had consulted with the station manager and told us that only folding bikes were accepted and that unfortunately there were no free wagons. The idea of taking the bikes into the sleeping compartment is also rejected. We discuss for a long time, because if there is one thing we have learned in Turkey, it is that almost anything is possible with a round of discussions. But unfortunately our luck seems to have run out, the two ladies behind the counter remain firm and before we completely lose our sympathy, we say goodbye. But we don't want to give in that easily, because we are dreading the idea of a miserably long bus ride. We set off in search of the aforementioned station manager. It is not clear from the translation what we mean by this. Whether it's someone in the office, the stationmaster or the train conductor, we can't say for sure and just ask everyone. The nice lady at the information desk also calls this notorious station manager and gives us the same answer. Only folding bikes are allowed. The train attendant sees it a little differently. "No problem", of course we can take the bike. You just have to ask the right people... We catch a glimpse of the train composition for today, which is travelling the same route, and discover a completely empty transport wagon.
Our decision is made. We buy these tickets and in case it really doesn't work out, they don't cost a fortune. Back at the ticket office, this time with another, rather poorly motivated lady. When we ask if there is a free seat on tomorrow's train, she answers "No" without even looking at the screen. We ask her again, because 15 minutes ago there was still room. Ahhh yes, there was still a double sleeping compartment free. What a coincidence... So now we hold the tickets in our hands and hope that our train journey will become reality the next day.
Not exactly with trembling knees, but slightly tense, we are back at the scene of the events the next day. With heaps of arguments in our luggage, we march towards the train driver and prepare ourselves for another round of discussions with Google Translate. But far from it. No problem, we put the bikes in the luggage wagon, pay a small surcharge which we are only too happy to pay and the matter is settled. Everyone is friendly and curious about what kind of oddballs we are, and we are overjoyed that it was so easy in the end.
So we sit contentedly in our compartment and let the landscape pass us by. Definitely not an express train, but we couldn't care less. We have a sleeping compartment and so we can easily get through the 24 hours. We still don't know who this mysterious person is who only allows folding bicycles, but we have learned once again that it is worthwhile to ask around. By the way, our only logical explanation for the whole story would be that the bicycle might have to be registered as cargo. If anyone wants to give it a try, we'd love to hear about your experiences.
Next stop, Diyarbakır. The Kurdish part of Turkey is calling.