Orient Express in Istanbul after three-year hiatus
The train departing from Paris visited Budapest, Bucharest, Varna and the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne before arriving in Istanbul.
The passengers of the Orient Express, which arrived at the station in the metropolis’ Bakırköy district on Aug. 31, were welcomed with traditional clothes and treats.
The train, which will leave the country on Sept. 2 and return Paris through Bucharest, Budapest, Vienna, had 54 passengers in 16 cars, including nine sleeping, two lounge, three restaurant, a service and a bar car.
Pascal Deyrolle, the head of the company operating the train, came to Türkiye last May to organize the train’s 2022 program and visited Turkish State Railways (TCDD). With a special protocol signed between the French company and TCDD, the Orient Express once again set out on its journey to Istanbul on Aug. 27 after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
The Orient Express started to run services to different European states in 1883.
The then most luxurious train carried kings, noblemen, diplomats, politicians and spies across the continent. Among these were Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, French President Paul Dechanel, Leopold II of Belgium and spy Mata Hari.
The famous Pera Palace Hotel was built for these passengers traveling in luxury to stay in a comfortable place in Istanbul, the last stop.
Among the first passengers of the train was Edmond About, a reporter for British daily The Times, novelist and traveler. About penned his memoirs of this trip in his book De Ponteise à Stamboul in 1884.
Furthermore, the train has been the subject of many books and movies, with Murder on the Orient Express written by Agatha Christie in Pera Palace Hotel in 1934 being the most well-known.
American playwright John Dos Passos’ book named after the train and American novelist Graham Greene’s Stamboul Train were also inspired by the train.
Germany and Austria, who were defeated in World War I, were removed from the train’s route in 1919, when it started to shuttle again after it was halted due to a drop in popularity.
Thus, on its journey starting from Paris, the train started to travel via Lausanne, Milan, Venice, Belgrade and Sofia instead of Munich, Vienna, Budapest and Bucharest, which were on its original route, to reach Istanbul in 58 hours.