Probably the most popular train in the world travels through Europe. You already know its name – it’s Orient Express. I believe many travelers around the world have at least once wanted to get on board and travel the famous route, taking the role of a passenger that travelled that way at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. I know I have…
The original journey, as we know it, started in Paris and passed through (Strasbourg, Munich) Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest and ended in Istanbul. It first ran in 1883. But the route changed many times. During World War I Orient Express service was even suspended. At the end of the war it ran again, but changed it’s route; Istanbul – Sofia – Belgrade – Venice – Milan – Lausanne – Paris. During World War II, similar thing happened. It couldn’t run properly because some areas were closed and in other parts it was sabotages because of political issues. Eventually it was cut to Venice to Paris part only.
The coaches of the authentic Orient Express were the place of many historical scenes and intrigues. One of the sleeping coaches, no. 3309, was a part of the train that was in 1929. stuck in snow for 10 days about a 100 km from Istanbul. The passengers only survived because the locals from the villages in the neighbourhood helped. Some of the coaches were a German loot during World War II. Even Bulgarian king Boris the Third was a train enthusiast and sometimes drove it himself.
But I’m sure that a lot of you remember Orient Express by Agatha Christie’s novel Murder in the Orient Express. Another amazing story led by the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. The journey with Orient Express was called “The birthplaces of the Empires”. Very early its name became a synonymous of luxury travel. Today, the train is, of course, completely restored but the route from Paris to Istanbul no longer exists.
Stella – European Travelling Advisor