All Aboard the Orient Express!

Original Wagon-Lits poster for the Orient Express

There is a magic to the Orient Express, that sees the spirit wander in the direction of the ever-towering imaginary palace of lost time.

The Heart Wants to Travel
In my mind’s eye, I revert into a wholly different being, when aboard the Orient Express. I go from 21st Century me, into a slender youth of the Jazz Age. Sporting a wavy bob, I carry myself with careless abandon in high-waisted, and wide-legged trousers. Cartier brooches pinned nonchalantly on swanky tops. I no longer have the sunny disposish, that has carried me through the years. In its place, I have everything.

Aboard the Orient Express, I have been replaced with a feline tomboy, who wears red lipstick, and smokes Sobranie cigarettes by the yard. – I need hardly explain that, in this scenario, I am one of the great beauties of my time: my kissable wit is widely revered amongst the Deb-Set. I am a young lady about town. The world is my oyster!

Original poster advertising for the Orient Express.

For dinner, I throw on long black (or emerald-green) asymmetrically cut backless couture gowns. I sit impatiently, playing with my silver monogrammed cigarette case, while my parents discuss matters at home. Visibly bored, I yearn for the adventure that awaits. I want to experience the world, and I want to live and breathe freely in curious new places. -Whether they be the heavily scented, and exotic lures of Constantinople or the pastel-coloured chichi balls of Vienna…I am too young and restless to enjoy the journey. All I sense is the fervent longing for a destination unknown. – That is until I spot a boy, who was in my brother’s house at school…

The Boy, who is now in his first year reading something-or-other at Oxford (I wasn’t listening, only looking into those serious eyes he carries with him everywhere), and I go off to the bar alone for a smoke. Mama and Papa take dessert with friends of the family, who have spontaneously appeared, now cast in the role of The Boy’s parents.

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The bar carriage on the Orient Express – photograph courtesy of Belmond

With coquettish innocence the boy and I discuss…matters at home. Silly nonsensical in-chat. We have yet to experience the world, so our exchange remains within the limitations of the playroom that was our First Season. Right now, we are on our way into the big wide wonder of it all – to face the abyss, and stirring dangers of the strange.

Maybe one day,- I wonder, as I look to his unspoiled face, watching him flick back a lock of brown hair, – when we have both seen everything, we’ll meet again on a train going back home. There is a lingering promise of young love between us. In a month, I will have forgotten all about his melancholy eyes, and the beauty of his youth. Only to revisit them, when innocence is lost and squandered, in a middle-age dream. -That is one of the tricks life plays on us…

Image courtesy Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

We watch the Alps pass by through the windows of the moving carriage, observing the changing colours of the peaks and troughs as the sun disappears on the horizon. It is beautiful out there, and for a moment time stands still, in a divine nod to Youth, as we fidget amorously with each other’s feelings.

We sip our drinks with glowing cheeks, and curious eyes – as we long for our histories to be written. Promising to write each other from our travels, we smoke one last cigarette, before slowly drifting back to our cabins. Holding hands in the stillness of the befalling summer night…

But I digress…

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Cabin on the Orient Express
Guests enjoying the facilities on board the original Orient Express
Guests enjoying the facilities on the original Orient Express

History of the Orient Express
The original Orient Express first left the station in Paris in 1882. For over the hundred years that followed Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits ran the Orient Express’s various routes through Europe. On 14 December 2009, the Orient Express ceased to operate and the route disappeared from European railway timetables, reportedly a “victim of high-speed trains and cut-rate airlines”. The Venice-Simplon Orient Express train, a private venture by Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. using original CIWL carriages from the 1920s and 1930s, continues to run from London to Venice and to other destinations in Europe, including the original route from Paris to Istanbul. In March 2014 Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. was renamed Belmond.

A view to a cabin at the updated Venice Simplon-Orient-Express – photograph courtesy of Belmond

To learn more, take a journey with our man Poirot (the legendary David Suchet), in this wonderfully informative featurette from 2010:

New Suites Launching in 2018 on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
In 2018 Belmond will introduce three new suites to the Orient Express, as an alternative to the existing cabins on board. Each boasts a double/twin bedroom, a living area with space for private dining and a sofa which can be converted into an additional bed in the evening. A private en-suite bathroom includes shower, wash basin and toilet, plus bespoke amenities and complimentary designer bathrobes. Cabin service is complemented by free-flowing champagne in your suite. Historical art-deco interior designs are inspired by the culture of the world’s most romantic cities. For the ultimate private journey, the entire carriage of suites can be reserved.

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Grand Suite – Paris

Grand Suite – Paris
Light and classic, this chic suite draws on the French capital’s grand architecture with flourishes of haute couture.

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Grand Suite – Venice

Grand Suite – Venice
Silk, woven fabrics, glass lamps and Venetian furniture reflect grand Italian Baroque and renaissance design.

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Grand Suite – Istanbul

Grand Suite – Istanbul
Opulence and romance abound, with hand-carved timber, embossed leather and exaggerated metal details. Embroidered pillows and rugs echo of the Grand Bazaar.

Includes:

  • Exclusive car or boat transfers between station and city centre accommodation (or vice versa) at the start and end of your train journey
  • Check-in at your hotel/curb-side meet and greet as appropriate
  • Guaranteed table of 2 at guest’s preferred sitting time and dining car, or the choice to dine privately in the suite
  • Complimentary alternative “A la Carte” menu during lunch or dinner
  • Private dining for lunch or dinner in guests suite if preferred
  • Complimentary “A la Carte” celebration breakfast in the suite (to be pre-ordered the day before)
  • Complimentary Caviar on arrival and free-flow champagne served throughout in the suite
  • Bespoke amenities and complimentary designer bathrobes
  • Those travelling on the Belmond British Pullman will enjoy a private coupe

For more information on journeys, cabins, dining, and how to book your trip click here

FYI: There is a no smoking policy aboard the Orient Express. 

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All aboard! The journey of a lifetime awaits!

3 thoughts on “All Aboard the Orient Express!

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