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“Tatvan is unlovely,” says Brian McKee in his extensive photo essay of Lake Van in Cornucopia 54, “with almost nothing to please the eye except its lake view.” The town was built as a rail link between Istanbul and Iran, trains being loaded onto ferries that cross the lake to Van. It has a number of hotels and can provide an overnight stop for exploring the extraordinary cemetery at Ahlat, to the north, and the Monastery of St Thomas on the road along the south side of the lake. This five-hour drive on the south side is lovely, says MacKee, “hugging the lake for much of the way, with plenty of cafés if you feel like stopping for tea and a sandwich of very fresh fish.”
The Lake Van Express” from Istanbul’s Asian station (Haydarpaşa) takes 40 hours to reach Tatvan.
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