We talked to you, starry-eyed, about the Trans-Siberian Railway not so long ago… Today we are taking you for a ride on another legendary train to some of the world’s most exciting cities. All aboard the Orient Express! This mythical railway travels back through time in a homage to the past while remaining resolutely rooted in the present day.
A brief history
Everything began in 1867 when Belgian engineer Georges Nagelmackers visited the United States. Little did he know this voyage would change his life. He was immediately impressed and fascinated by the modern trains in North America. But he also knew they could be better. He decided to devote himself to designing luxury trains capable of linking Europe’s most beautiful cities. And by some lucky coincidence, Pavel Kousmichoff founded Kusmi Tea in Saint Petersburg that very same year!
After years of hard work, Georges Nagelmackers’ dream came true on October 4, 1883. The first Orient Express Train left Strasbourg Station in Paris (now the Gare de l’Est) and headed to Constantinople (now Istanbul). The passengers on this maiden voyage included celebrities and wealthy travelers. Everyone was enthralled by the train’s speed and the landscapes flashing by the windows. And as they could cross borders while sat in their seats, the train’s incredible design and decoration left no one indifferent.
A train in blue and gold
Georges Nagelmackers’ certainly had grand ideas. Every detail was lovingly crafted in the blue and gold interiors of the Orient Express. The engineer had called on renowned artisans such as master glassmaker René Lalique and designer René Prou. Inspired by the project, the duo used the finest materials to make the carriages as elegant as they were extravagant. Passengers could admire features in burl wood, silver, and bronze, marquetry, velvet hangings, and sculpted glass. The dining car also pulled out all the stops, serving sophisticated cuisine inspired by the different lands the train passed through. For the first time in history, traveling long distances became a truly pleasurable experience.
However, the world changed, the airplane was invented, and the railway was consigned to the past. Faced with such progress, the so-called “Train of Kings and King of Trains” made its last trip to Istanbul on May 20, 1977. But today, a major group has taken the reins and is working to revive the Orient Express by 2022!
The Venice-Simplon Orient Express and its irresistible destinations
Fortunately, the “original” Orient Express was not the only one of its kind, and other equally prestigious trains followed suit. The Venice-Simplon Orient Express is still running today, taking travelers to Paris, Venice, Budapest, London, Berlin, Istanbul, Prague, and Vienna. The ideal mode of transport for discovering the countless treasures of these leading cities!
Passengers have the choice between a double cabin or a suite. But don’t worry, all the rooms are sumptuously decorated. Take the time to enjoy the full comforts on offer, admire the breathtaking views, and indulge in the onboard gourmet cuisine. The details in the three beautifully restored dining cars and the period club car are sure to grab your attention. Now that’s an authentic change of scenery!
The sunny days are returning and summer is just around the corner… The train is about to depart, please stand clear of the doors… And get ready for a unique, unforgettable adventure!
photo credit : @Belmond