Luxury. Romance. Mystery. Glamour.
In 1883, a legend was born to the name of Orient Express. With luxuries like hand soap and an unparalleled food and wine menu, this elegant train steamed out of Paris to exotic locations like Budapest, Bucharest, and Constantinople. Soon, the Orient Express became the Ritz of transportation, carrying celebrities and royality in addition to socialites and other intriguing characters:
“Dancer Isadora Duncan travelled on the Orient Express wearing ‘less than a veil, and that in the wrong place.’ A French president ‘fell off’ and was found wandering along the track in his pyjamas. King Boris of Bulgaria insisted upon driving the train through his country. Spies regularly spotted on board included exotic ‘artiste Mata Hari and Robert Baden Powell (posing as a butterfly collector).”
The 1920s were the train’s greatest years, its art deco decor still today a part of its luxurious and mysterious appeal. The famous Bar Car was a popular rendezvous, as were the grand salons and dining cars.
Ian Fleming’s 1963 From Russia with Love, as well as Agatha Christie’s 1974 Murder on the Orient Express both helped to keep this train on the map, despite its declining popularity due to the options of faster, more reliable transportation.
Although the line finished its run as a regular passenger train in 1977, thirty-five of its vintage carriages were bought and restored by James B. Sherwood in the late 1970s. In 1982, the line known as the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express made its maiden run, bringing the legend back to life. Today, the Orient Express and many of its sister trains continue to provide one of the most romantic forms of transportation the world has to offer.
In keeping with the stylish drama and glamour surrounding the elite line, formal attire is required at all times. (Sounds good to me!) And, while ticket prices range anywhere from $1000-$10,000, this is certainly one trip on my bucket list.
(Pictures and info courtesy of orient-express.com and Google images.)