A shrill whistle in the Gare de l'Est, Paris, France, May 27, heralded the last arrival of the famous "Orient Express" train.
A shrill whistle in the Gare de l'Est, Paris, France, May 27, heralded the last arrival of the famous "Orient Express" train. The train itself will continue to operate - but only to Vienna, the Austrian capital.
It was the "Orient", however, that made the train so famous in the realms of fact and fiction. It ran across Europe from Paris to the Balkans and Turkey. But the express was the setting for stories of intrigue, adventure and mystery.
Air travel and delays and restrictions at some East European frontiers are given as the reasons for the express ending. The first "Orient Express" - in 1883 - pioneered the idea of crossing Europe by rail, and eating and sleeping in comfort. The first six years were adventurous: passengers had to navigate perilous open catwalks between cars.
In the 1890's, travellers got off the "Orient Express" at the tiny Danube town of Giorgiu and took ferry boats across the river to Routchouk in Bulgaria. From there a train took them to a Black Sea port where another boat took them to Constantinople. But by 1889 Paris and Constantinople were connected and it took 67 hrs 35 min to make the transcontinental journey. Soon other versions of the Orient Express came into being, but none captured the imagination like the original..