A very sunny Bucharest in mid-March with temperatures in the lows 20s was a perfect place to be starting a journey from. Bucharest’s North Station was a bustling place with coffee shops, the ubiquitous McDonalds and KFC, a handy supermarket and numerous other stalls selling food and drinks which are all very useful as you need to stock up with provisions for the journey through to Istanbul as the train does not offer any dining or refreshment facilities.
As I boarded the last Eurostar on a cold evening at the impressive St Pancras station, I was in no doubt as to the enormity of the epic journey ahead of me. To travel overland to Istanbul would involve three overnight sleeper trains and breaking my journey in some of Europe’s major cities. Crossing ten countries, three time zones and countless cultures, this journey was as eagerly awaited as it was daunting.
Following on from my late running journey to Thessaloniki I was left with just 3 hours until my next train left for Istanbul at 19:00. I was due to travel on the “Filia-Dostluk Express” to Istanbul, the name meaning Friendship in both Greek and Turkish languages. Whilst I hoped the name indicated a friendly onboard service I wondered if it had a more political meaning considering the past tensions between the countries.