On the 4th of October 1883 the Express d’Orient left Gare de l’Est station in Paris to begin its maiden journey to Romania. It travelled through Europe via Munich and Vienna. The train was the brainchild of Belgian Georges Nagelmackers who founded his company Campagnie Internationale de Wagons-Lits in 1872. Georges was inspired by American engineer and industrialist George Pullman who designed and manufactured the sleeper car.
Georges had a vision to establish a service that connected Paris with Constantinople via train. Passengers travelled to Romania on board the Express d’Orient and then transferred to a ferry to cross the Danube to Bulgaria where they boarded another train to Varna and completed the journey via yet another ferry to Constantinople, now known as Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey. The journey from Paris to Giurgiu in Romania took 3 days.
I have never had the pleasure of travelling on board the Orient Express, however if I had a bucket list, a trip would be on it.
This week saw the anniversary of the first Orient Express service and to mark the occasion the lifestyle team here outdid themselves.
We were issued with our tickets, instructing us that the train would depart at 3pm sharp from the cinema room, La Gare de le cinéma.
On reaching the departure lounge we were greeted by a wonderful sight. There in front of us was a dining table laid with pressed white cloths, dressed with pristine flatware and sparkling wine glasses. The menus were perfectly placed detailing the delicious cakes that would be available to us as we took our virtual trip to Vienna on board the Orient Express.
We were served by Jackie, dressed very formally and displaying her hidden talent for silver service. We drank wine and ate far too much cake. There was a French apple cake, an Austrian chocolate cake and a Romanian lemon cake, it would have been very rude indeed not to have tried all three. Compliments to the chef from all of us.
We watched as the journey played out on the big screen, watching the rolling hills gallop by. We shared tales of our own journeys to far flung places and enjoyed hearing each other’s stories.
This event was so wonderful, the work that went into planning it and the attention to detail were astounding. Thank you to the lifestyle team, this really was a very special afternoon.