Regular readers of this blog will recall a book extract that I published a couple of days ago about our train journey across Turkey to Syria in 2009. On that trip my travel buddy Hamish was (thankfully only temporarily) separated from his passport for a while at Ankara Station, leading to all sorts of palpitations.
In 2014 we again had a stop off in Ankara, this time en route to Armenia. We found ourselves with enough time to leave our bags at the station to pay a very enjoyable visit to Ataturk’s Mausoleum.
What could possibly go wrong this time?………
Back at the garderobes, Hamish scanned the ticket to get our bags back. Nothing. He scanned it again, and again, and again, but the door remained shut tight like a clamshell. He went to get the toilet attendant to help. He scanned it too but nothing. The station barber tried and still nothing.
It was now twenty-minutes until the off and we were starting to panic a tad. The barber spoke a little English and explained that the toilet attendant had gone to get somebody to help.
The help arrived and scanned the ticket. Nothing! More help arrived to tap in a PIN into the machine keypad. It beeped and we held our breath but NOTHING!
Fifteen-minutes to go and counting, panic growing. A night in Ankara, yuk. All onward bookings invalid, blast, a whole day wasted, SHIT!
The first help returned with some keys and unlocked a panel that went from the top of our locker column to our actual locker at the bottom. Apart from annoying beeping, nothing else happened.
First help indicated that second help had gone to get a special tool. With ten-minutes to spare we would not have cared a jot if said tool was an enormous crowbar or even dynamite!
Second help returned with the special tool – a small screwdriver! Eight minutes to our off. He stuck the tool in a little hole by the locking mechanism of our locker and wiggled it about. NOTHING! Six minutes.
We were becoming a bit frantic by now and had drawn quite a viewing gallery. Everybody knew our predicament and seemed to be rooting for us.
Help number two took over and wiggled the implement. Finally, and with just four minutes to spare, the door sprang open. I could have kissed him, but instead we just grabbed our bags and ran shouting a thank you as we fled.
The gathered crowd broke into applause, a lovely touching moment we would have thought if we were not desperate to get away by now.
We raced to Platform Two and there stood the Doğu. No time to spare, we clambered on board and drew breath just as the loco fired up and we started rolling slowly forwards. We had made it. Just!
What is it with Ankara Station that causes us such stressful situations?
Read about similar close shaves, comic situations and other various mishaps in On The Beaten Track – Travels In Eastern Europe available now from Amazon.