Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Traveling Tuesday: The Orient Express

Traveling Tuesday: The Orient Express 
Photo: WikiImages
For over 125 years, the Orient Express traveled the length of continental Europe into western Asia. Founded in 1883 by the Belgian company Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL) at a time when traveling was still dangerous and uncomfortable, the Orient Express was the epitome of luxury. The original endpoints were Paris and Istanbul, and the route has changed many times over the years. CIWL expanded its trains, travel agencies, and hotels all over Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but the Orient Express remains their most famous. 
The first menu served onboard is reported to have been oysters, soup with Italian pasta, turbot with green sauce, chicken a la chasseur, fillet of beef with chateau potatoes, chaud-froid (literally hot-cold, but a sauce) of game animals, lettuce, chocolate pudding, and a buffet of desserts. 
On June 5, 1883, the first “Express d’Orient” left Paris for Vienna, with Vienna being the terminus until
October of that year. The original route began in Paris to Giurgiu in Romania via Munich and Vienna. At Giurgiu, passengers were ferried across the Danube to Ruse, Bulgaria where they boarded another train to Varna, completing their journey to Constantinople (renamed Istanbul around 1930) also by ferry. By 1885 another route began that reached Constantinople via rail. Varna became the eastern terminus in 1889. 
World War I caused the company to suspend Orient Expresses services until 1918 after the conflict ended. In 1919, the opening of the Simplon Tunnel allowed another route to be added that went through Milan, Venice, and Trieste. Interestingly, a clause was included in the Treaty of Saint-Germain that required Austria to allow the train. 
During the 1930s, the Orient Express was at its most popular and had three services running: the Simplon Orient Express, the Arlberg Orient Express, and the original Orient Express. It was at this time that the train acquired its reputation for opulence and richness. Patrons included royalty, nobles, diplomats, business people, as well as more well-to-do members of the middle class. By this time sleeping cars had been added. 
Photo: WikiImages
Service was disrupted again during WWII and did not resume until 1945. The closure of the border between Yugoslavia and the Kingdom of Greece prevented the resumption of the Athens leg of the journey. The border reopened in 1951, but the Bulgarian-Turkish border closed during this period. 
By 1962, the original Orient Express and the Arlberg Orient Express stopped running. The Simplon Orient express ran daily cars from Paris to Belgrade, but only when to Istanbul and Athens twice each week. In 1971, CIWL stopped running carriages itself, instead selling or leasing them to various national railway companies. On May 19, 1977, the last Paris—Istanbul train made its run. 

Happy book birthday, Under Ground 
It’s been six months since Ruth Brown followed clues to England and discovered the identity of her sister’s killer. War continues to rage as Ruth reports on food shortages, the black market, the evacuation of London’s children, and the bravery of the British people. When a bombing raid destroys her home and unearths a twenty-year-old skeleton in the cellar, her reporter’s senses tingle in anticipation of solving another mystery. Unfortunately, the by-the-book detective inspector assigned to the case is not interested in her theories. As Ruth investigates the case on her own, she butts heads with the handsome policeman. Will she get to the bottom of the story before the killer strikes again? 
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