Orient-Express 12: Afyonkarahisar (50 p.)

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Proud Earthling

To the previous part of the series:
Orient-Express 11: Efes & Steam-Kebab (50 p.)

To the video of the trip:

Detailed TCDD rail map (Attention - 12.9 MB):

September 27 2013

We return to the stage Usak - Afyon:

Shortly behind Yildirim Kemal we stopped on the open line, most photographers were lining up above the cliff to the left... but the sun did not appear. The train steamed past us for the first time, I liked the image from the opposite side quite a lot - the colours have been given a nostalgic touch.

Now to the silhouette perspective, the mood simply was amazing. Once more the landscape reminded me of the Highlands - including boggy pond (albeit more polluted than its Scottish counterparts).

In such impressive formations - yes, please, more clouds! :)

We waited another 30 minutes for sunlight, but it always scraped by our spot. So, one more run-past and we moved on.

We chased the sun for 45 minutes and caught up with it at Balmahmut.

I ran ahead and quickly captured a sunny panorama of this wonderful valley partly surrounded by rock faces, while some others were still climbing out of the coaches

For the actual photo run-past I chose a lower perspective against the once more spectacular sky.

We passed Balmahmut, the roof of the station building still featuring an old station sign was just being mended. Shortly later we finally rolled past a flock of sheep. A few hundred yards on the brakes were squealing, and we slowly reversed. After introducing ourselves and shaking hands with the friendly shepherds, the spectacle was arranged...

The train was positioned behind the herd of sheep and two donkeys.

Men and dogs were watching the whole affair. A smoking fire nearby augmented the mood even more.

And action! As a bonus the sun peeked through a hole in the sky at exactly the right moment.
The herd still was grazing calmly...

However, as the hissing iron horse approached, panic broke out.


We continued through the valley until we reached the open landscape around Afyon. Our line was joined by another from Sandikli running parallel as a second track. Actually it was only supposed to be a signal halt entering Afyon (the first signal we saw in a long time), yet due to the fantastic sunset mood the crowd of photographers jumped out of the coaches - this led to a few run-pasts. For the first one two locals were waiting at a level crossing.

We were close to the same spot we had passed a few days earlier on the bus ride from Ankara. At the crossroads Istanbul - Antalya and Ankara - Izmir new 5-star thermal spa hotels sprung up like mushrooms. But apart from one giant shell construction on a hilltop - which I removed virtually - it hardly could be noticed in this light.





During the last photo departure three youngsters one a motor scooter came by.


DE24249 was showing that it was able to smoke just as well to take us to our destination which already could be recognized in the distance by its distinctive steep hills.

After passing Afyon Sehir (city) station we reached the Anatolian Railway Eskisehir - Konya - connecting to the Baghdad Railway - and the freight yard of main station Afyon Ali Cetinkaya (named after an Afyon-born former transport minister during Atatürk's time). In the darkness the switches were lit effectfully, next to a class DE24000 and a class DH9500 shunter I just noticed a class E43000 electric being transferred during image editing.

Some group members walked to nearby Hotel Mert, I took a taxi with a few others. In the lobby I booked another flight ticket home via wifi for someone else, then called it a day.

September 28 2013

I would like to insert a report about a sightseeing-tour I did the following afternoon. Colleagues had recommended a visit to the old town centre of Afyon where nostalgic flair supposedly had been preserved. From the station I walked along modern streets, also the first blocks of the city centre had been refurbished and did not exude much historic atmosphere. However, this was about to change a few yards further - old houses, old streets - and especially: life! could be found here.

Always prominent in the background: the mighty castle rock giving the town its current complete name: Afyonkarahisar - ("Karahisar" - "Black Castle", "Afyon" - "Opium" ;-)).
More about the history of Afyon can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afyonkarahisar

Craftsmen were categorised by streets, here a boilermaker.

Past Yeni Cami (New Mosque) I entered the maze of streets forming the old town.


Loaves of bread in front of one of the omnipresent bakeries.

I passed the only indication of visiting tourists - a signpost, also in English, showing the way up to the castle ruin. Some local day-trippers walked uphill to the viewpoint on this lovely Saturday afternoon, others were dragging their children into the historically most interesting Ulu Cami.

I had preloaded Google Maps, so I ventured further through the narrow side streets.

At some point I reached a more modern suburb - only to be surprised by a horseback rider!

From a hill I managed to capture a complete panorama. Somehow this old town in a valley reminded me of course of my second home city, Sarajevo. To the right in the distance modern Afyon and the station area stretched out into the plain.



Walking back to the modern city I followed more old streets.



Finally I returned to the modernised part of the city centre featuring historicising street lamps, bazar-like souvenir shops and touristy restaurants. I passed a wedding party just taking pictures in front of the castle. All were clothed in fashionable western style - quite a contrast to the actual inhabitants of the old town.

Now we continue our report on Saturday morning. At about half past six we reached the main station.

Two class 5700 DMUs were waiting on platform 1 about to depart to Eskisehir at 7:20 a.m.
The complete timetable of local trains in this area can be found here: http://www.tcdd.gov.tr/upload/Files/ContentFiles/2010/bolgesel/7bolgeselleri.pdf
If you take a closer look at the vehicles you might notice their origin - correct, they are 1993-built versions of the well-known FIAT railbus.

Everything a driver needs.

Once more a wonderful Art Deco-waiting hall.


Notice the letterbox.

On both platform ends these elegant fountains could be found.

Sadly the steamer was shunting from the other, not as photogenic direction.

The castle rock in the distance could be captured standing on platform 2.

It was quite cool that morning, don't be misled by the t-shirt.


I waited until DE24127 had shunted its freight train, then moved ahead.

DE33055 recently built for the rising economic power with Erdogan's new mosques and the Army's tanks as allegory for modern Turkey...

The double FIAT DMU rushed past us punctually towards Kütahya and Eskisehir. That day we were about to take the leftmost track into direction Sandikli and Dinar, next to it the one on which we had arrived from Usak the evening before.

A small home exercise: http://www.drehscheibe-foren.de/foren/read.php?17,3572091
With Karabük's historic travelogue you can prepare for next time, find the differences compared to nowadays... ;-)

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