Confused where to go this summer? Indulge in a dreamlike idea of your next journey’s plan. Make your honeymoon the most romantic journey of a lifetime with this brilliant idea or just treat yourself and your partner to a getaway that you won’t ever forget- the Venice Simplon style!
A work of art in itself and a true Art Deco icon, the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train offers one of the most celebrated and romantic journeys in the world.
The History: The Orient Express was the name of a long-distance passenger train service created in 1883. Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name become synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel. The two city names most prominently associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Istanbul, the original endpoints of the timetabled service. The Orient Express was a showcase of luxury and comfort at a time when travelling was still rough and dangerous. In 1977, the Orient Express stopped serving Istanbul. Its immediate successor, an overnight service from Paris to Vienna, ran for the last time from Paris on Friday, June 8, 2007. After this, the route, still called the “Orient Express”, was shortened to start from Strasbourg instead. 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 using original 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 was renamed Belmond.
The Experience: The sense of wonder can still be felt on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train, where travel is about relishing the experience. Savour the beautiful surroundings. Marvel at the opulent interiors, sparkling crystal, plush fabrics and polished woods. Relax in your own cabin as you look out over stunning landscapes. Connect with fascinating people, like-minded adventurers who share your joy for travel. Look ahead with unbridled delight and prepare to step back into a more sophisticated age and a gentler pace of life.
The 40-person Orient Express staff on the train, and a further 40 staff which is ‘ashore’, pulls off this three-ring-circus. Details at your various stops are worked out beforehand. Your personal cabin steward, might be discreetly ever-present, bringing breakfast in your compartments each morning, tea in the afternoon (upon request), and making up or stowing the bedding. And there will be more, whom you will probably never see, busy is serving you in one way or another. Once aboard the train you will feel like you are a part of a theatrical production. At your stops, you will be met by everything from a red-jacketed Hungarian military band to native-clad Bulgarian exotic dancers or Ottoman-style Turkish musicians.
Everywhere one turns, you will notice exquisite details. Musicians stroll by the tables, serenading to you during your meals. The art-deco style logo is emblazoned on every conceivable object: soap and toothbrushes, robes and slippers, umbrellas, Kleenex and drink coasters.
The off-train tours are inspired and executed with a lot of precision. But even so, train itself is the tour’s chief attraction. The toilet’s down the hall. And one must shower off-train every other night which can be spent in a five-star hotel. As air-conditioning was not around in the 1920’s, one must make do with fresh air, which is easily accessible by rolling down one’s window. There is magic in being aboard such a legendary train. One is playing a role in an incredible, rolling historical drama.
Classic Journeys: The train’s classic journeys take you to great European cities, including London, Paris, Venice, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. Delicious meals are served in the restaurant cars as you travel. Ample treats of tea and other beverages come frequently your way. Following are only a few of the routes which the train follows. Many other exciting options can be found on their website.
6 Days/5 Nights, from £5,870 per person
This is the classic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train journey which departs just once a year. You leave from Paris for your overnight journey towards Budapest. After an overnight stay in Budapest, you rejoin the train for an overnight journey to Bucharest, where you get to spend the next day and night. On rejoining the train the next day stop is in the fascinating country of Bulgaria. Enjoy your last night and day on board as the train travels to your last stop in Istanbul.
ISTANBUL – BUCHAREST – BUDAPEST – VENICE
6 Days/5 Nights, from £5,870 per person
Another classic journey, this one follows the route of departing from Istanbul and traveling through Turkey and Bulgaria. Arrive the next day in Bucharest for a one-night stay, and continue your journey towards Budapest where you spend the night. Rejoin the train the next day and travel into Austria, stopping for a short city tour in Vienna before your overnight journey to Venice, where your trip ends.
VENICE – VIENNA – LONDON
5 Days/4 Nights, from £2,460 per person
Depart from Venice late afternoon for your overnight journey to Vienna, where you arrive in the morning for a two-night stay. Rejoin the train in the afternoon for your overnight journey to London, where you arrive late afternoon the following day.
VENICE – PRAGUE – LONDON
5 Days/ 4 Nights, from £2,680 per person
Depart from Venice late afternoon for your overnight journey to Prague, where you arrive the following afternoon for a two-night stay. Rejoin the train in Prague during the afternoon for your overnight journey to Paris, where you arrive just after breakfast the following morning.
PARIS – VENICE
2 Days / 1 Night, from £1,720 per person
Depart from Paris just before dinner for your overnight journey to Venice, where you arrive late afternoon the next day. Board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train in Paris. A delicious four-course dinner will be served in a splendid restaurant car. After dinner, when you are ready, retire to your cabin, which has now been transformed into a cozy bedroom.
We hope to have stirred the adventurous traveller inside of you with this piece. Just keep in mind that the journeys of Orient Express are heavily booked and there are long waiting periods for new bookings. Information of complete list of trips is available on their website. http://www.belmond.com/venice-simplon-orient-express/ Bon Voyage readers!