Across Europe from London to Istambul
THE SPELL OF THE ORIENT. The Sirkedji railway station at Istambul, where the “Orient Express” reaches the end of its journey. Istambul was formerly known as Constantinople.
THE “Orient Express,” connecting as it does the English Channel with the Black Sea, is one of the most famous trains in Europe. An American friend of the writer, after having considered the claims of the “Flying Scotsman” and the “Twentieth Century Limited”, admitted that the “Orient Express” might claim to be the most famous train in the world. With its connecting trains it passes over the railway systems of no fewer than thirteen different countries of the continent of Europe.
The “Orient Express” proper runs from Calais and Paris to Bucharest, passing through France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Then there is the closely-
THE ROUTE OF THE EXPRESS and the towns through which it passes are clearly seen in the map.
Of all the International trains of Europe -
The locomotives were of the 2-
Before the Great War, the services provided by the “Orient” had attained something of their present ubiquity. Three times weekly the train left the Gare de l’Est in Paris for Constantinople, as it was then called. At Linz the train joined the route of the “Ostend-
While feeling still ran strong even when peace came, the International Sleeping Car Company began a service which connected London, Calais and Paris with the Near East without passing through Germany, or any part of the former Austro-
In the nineteen-
A journey by the “Orient Express” to-
LEAVING VIENNA FOR PARIS. The “Orient Express” covers the stretch, of 117½ miles between Vienna and Linz, in two hours fifty-
The “Orient” journeys from the broad fields of Normandy, with rolling downs and huge plough horses -
Let us take an imaginary journey to Bucharest and Constanta, retracing our steps, too, to follow the connexion through Belgrade to Istambul.
To catch the “Orient Express” from Calais, we take, on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday, the 2.0pm “Continental Express” from Victoria to Dover. Our first view of the famous train at the Calais Maritime station is, perhaps, disappointing, for all we see is a large blue sleeping-
Through northern France, the train crosses some of the most fought-
During the past hundred years, it has seen the Franco-
Crossing the Frontier
The train is little disturbed when, eventually, it draws up at Chalons, and the through coach from Calais is attached to the main section from Paris. The “Orient” carries no local passengers, and now in its complete form consists of sleeping-
The train has an opulent air; the cars travel with little vibration, the equipment is extraordinarily comfortable and clean, and so smooth is the running that it is difficult to realize that in comparatively recent years the French permanent way was not all that it should have been.
The beds are made up, and the majority of the passengers are either retiring or already in bed when the train slips off into the night behind one of the big locomotives of the Eastern Railway of France. It may be one of the huge 4-
All is quiet when the train draws up at Strasbourg at 1.53am, and nothing can be seen of the famous cathedral with the tall spire and the queer stump of the second spire that was never built. Only the massive locomotives and green coaches in the station outside the windows are there to remind us that we are in Alsace-
ON THE TRACK OF THE “ORIENT EXPRESS”. A stretch of line over which the famous train passes, at Zell am See in the Austrian Alps.
The German locomotive which now backs on to the train is probably a four-
Probably we are still abed when the big-
East of Stuttgart, the train climbs through the beautifully wooded hills of the Jura range. Those of us who have read that fine novel Jew Suss will find the hill country of Württemberg strangely familiar and un-
First View of the Alps
Now the big electric glides up the incline almost silently, and when she reaches the down grade beyond the summit, she glides down it in the same imperturbable fashion. The old steam engines used to sprint down as if they were frantically making up for the previous up-
Ulm, with its tall, decorated cathedral, is reached during breakfast, but the train steams through and crosses the muddy Danube into Bavaria. Thence to Munich the country is flat and comparatively uninteresting, though if the day be clear we get our first view of the Alps, lying in a jagged line tar away to southwards. In the flanks of those mountains lies the Kochel hydro-
Munich is the first definite destination of the “Orient”, for many people use the train as a rapid means of reaching the beautiful Central European capital overnight. There is something friendly yet unfamiliar about Munich, and its huge cathedral church, of red brick, with bright green domes surmounting the towers.
Here, again, is a terminus, and another electric backs on to the “tail” of the train. On leaving, the train boxes the compass, for it makes a one-
FROM STUTTGART TO SALZBURG, the “Orient Express” is hauled by a German State Railway electric locomotive of the type shown above.
The frontier is crossed just beyond Freilassing, but Salzburg is only a few miles farther on, and here our big electric comes to a halt at 11.06am. But there is no time to get out and look at the surrounding mountains, or the fairy-
Austrian steam locomotives are peculiar to British eyes. Many of them burn soft brown coal, and as we glide out into the open, we shall probably see a station shunting engine sporting an enormous spark-
At Linz, which is reached at lunch time, the “Ostend-
Nearing the East
After Vienna comes a slightly bewildering series of frontier crossings, for, instead of running straight across the border into Hungary, the “Orient” makes a detour in order to call at Bratislava, in Czechoslovakia. The train waits but thirteen minutes at Vienna; less than two hours later it is at Bratislava. At 9.35pm it has reached the beautiful Hungarian capital of Budapest, behind a Hungarian 4-
Cars are detached at Budapest, which is one of the most important railway centres in Eastern Europe. From here the connexion runs south-
Athens, incidentally, was the last of the great European capitals to have through railway communication with the rest of the Continent, for the wonderful scenic line of the Hellenic State Railways down through the Balkans is of post-
At five past ten, the “Orient” rumbles out of Budapest into the night on the last big lap of its journey, and, incidentally, the slowest. In Romania, we have none of the fine non-
AT STUTTGART. The principal railway station of this important South German city, which is a stopping-
Going forward from Arad the train follows the valley of the Maros for a considerable distance. Copsa Mica is reached at 8.30am. Eastern Europe time, the clocks having been advanced by another hour. Now we climb up into the Transylvanian Alps, reaching the walled mountain town of Brasov at 11.22. The glorious beech woods of Transylvania take us back to the west, but Brasov does not, nor do the buffaloes in the fields, which are bred for work and for milk, just as they are in India.
Hereafter comes a down-
The fastest running made by the “Orient” is over the French and German railways. The run from Chalons to Nancy over the Eastern Railway, covering a distance of 111½ miles, occupies exactly two hours; from Nancy to Strasbourg, ninety-
Such is the present-
Until quite recently, the “Orient Express” carried first-
The International Sleeping Car Company has found a serious competitor in Central Europe in the form of the Mitropa Sleeping Car Company, a German firm. The Mitropa cars provide sleeping berths for all classes, and though it is slower, the Mitropa service from Flushing to South Germany began to offer a cheaper facility, but one just as comfortable as that of the “Orient Express” from Calais. As a result of this, the “Orient Express” now carries first-
When the train started running again after the war, the pre-
[From part 12 published 18 April 1935]
“The St Gotthard Pullman Express” on this website.