The Sofya – Istanbul Ekspresi

I keep thinking of this train as the mythical ‘Midnight Express’ from Alan Parker’s 1978 film, which made a big impression on me when I was old enough to watch it. But there were of course no real trains in that film. For Istanbul train based films you have to look to James Bond (‘From Russia With Love’) or Hurcule Poirot (‘Murder on the Orient Express’). Sofia station seems to be a good place to me. It’s a large, slightly brutal, Soviet inspired building, but it is clean and seems safe. Getting a ticket for the Istanbul train proves very […]

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‘The Balkan’ from Belgrade to Sofia

Those of you in the know will be aware that Belgrade has a bit of a railway station identity crisis at the moment. The original station now having closed, the new station called ‘Central’ is open, but barely finished it is not yet capable of dealing with all the services it is supposed to at the moment. So confusingly, the single daily summer service from Belgrade to Sofia currently departs from a tiny station in a leafy suburb of the city called Topcider. My train from Zagreb yesterday arrived in the Central station though.. Both have ticket offices, neither have […]

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On the route of the "Bosfor" from Bucharest to Istanbul

Bucharest Nord is a good station for the long range train traveller. It has loads of shops close to the platforms selling fruit, local pastries and fresh coffee. I’m sure it’s not the safest place in the world, but on a sunny Saturday morning it feels just fine. If you are interested in rail travel you will probably know about the problems getting by train to Turkey. There is no direct service, and hasn’t been for several years owing to extensive engineering works on the line in Turkey and also in Bulgaria. Over the next 18 hours I’m therefore taking […]

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