Friday, October 4, 2013

October 4 - Orient Express

The Orient Express long-distance passenger train service, originally called the Express d'Orient, began operating on October 4, 1883. It was part of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, owned by a Belgian banker who had been impressed by Pullman cars in the United States. The train’s first route ran from the Gare de l'Est in Paris, via Munich and Vienna, to the Romanian city of Giurgiu on the Danube River, bordering Bulgaria. Passengers were ferried across the Danube to connect with a train to Istanbul (still called Constantinople). In 1885 another route was established through Vienna and Belgrade. Orient Express service reached its height in the 1930s, when its dining cars offering haute cuisine and its sleeping-cars gained a well-deserved reputation for luxury, comfort, sophistication and intrigue. The train ran three parallel services, one of which crossed the Alps via Zürich and Innsbruck to its destination in Athens. Because each Orient Express route included sleeping-cars originating at Calais, service spanned the length of continental Europe.

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