March 2023 | Travel | VOL 9
SPIRIT OF ORIENT EXPRESS
words | Mert Çam
The first and most famous example of the luxury train travel experience is undoubtedly the 150-year-old Orient Express. This train, which connects Paris and Istanbul, is one of the starting points for the concept of luxury travel. From 1883 until First World War, the carriages of the Orient Express carried countless diplomats, aristocrats, artists, and kings. Even the agreement that ended the First World War was signed in car number 2419 of this train. After this agreement, the journeys of the Orient Express were also history, and various countries and museums protected the train’s carriages. Until recent years... With the change in travel culture and the emergence of experience-oriented ‘slow tourism’, the spirit of luxury train travel and the Orient Express started to live again.
ONCE A YEAR, PARIS - ISTANBUL
The first brand to keep the spirit of the Orient Express alive is the Belmond Hotel Group, which owns many hotels around the world, including the Cipriani Hotel in Venice. In fact, Belmond began working on the luxury train concept in 1977, calling it “Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, A Belmond Train” or VSOE for short. Exactly 40 years after that date, Belmond, which has been part of LVMH since 2019, has introduced the Eastern Oriental Express on the Far East route in addition to the VSOE train.
The most interesting of the Belmond trains is undoubtedly the VSOE. In addition to its iconic trip from Paris to Istanbul once a year, the VSOE route passes through the following cities between March and November: Paris, Cannes, Florence, Venice, Rome, Verona, Vienna, Innsbruck, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, Geneva, Brussels, and Amsterdam.