Luxurious Travel on the Orient Express From London to Venice, The Best is the Journey
Whether you are a fan of Hercule Poirot, James Bond or Mony Vibescu, the legendary Orient Express train is part of your life.
Maybe you are one of the privileged passengers who has travelled from London to Istanbul or from Istanbul to London on the flagship train of la Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et des Grands Express. With its mahogany paneling, Oriental rugs and leather armchairs, the Orient Express offered the same level of luxury as that of first class in transatlantic steamboats –and had the same passengers.
The Orient Express made its last voyage to Istanbul in 1977, back when travelers wore black tie to dinner and when quality was not yet second to speed.
In 1982, James Sherwood, an American mogul, revived the luxury train as the Venice Simplon Orient-Express running only between London and Venice, but with several routes and stops along the way where passengers stay the night in Europe's most luxurious hotels.
The train runs the original route from Paris to Istanbul in August, and from Istanbul to Paris in September. The London to Venice service, using restored 1920s and 1930s vintage sleepers and restaurant carriages, runs between March and November. The trains leaves London Victoria Station before noon, with the exception of the Venice Simplon Orient-Express; the Channel Tunnel cannot accommodate the vintage cars. Once on French soil, you transfer to your navy, gold and cream-roofed carriage. You are still in French territory when a gourmet four-course dinner is served, before a night’s sleep to the rhythm of the tracks. Lunch is served while crossing the Alps, and the train pulls into Venice Santa Lucia Station right after afternoon tea.
Yes, you can fly to Venice for a minimum of $50 or for $1,300 business class, approximately one third of the price it will cost you on the Venice-Simplon Orient Express. But add the meals, deduct the extra night you are not spending at Hotel Cipriani, (an Orient-Express hotel), and compare the headache of checking-in at any London Airport, then the headache due to scarce oxygen during your flight, to the pleasure of dressing up for an elegant evening before enjoying, at the bar car, Cole Porter music played on a baby grand piano.
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