You've seen it referenced in books, movies, TV shows and songs, romanticized as a majestic means of travel spanning the globe from the familiar to exotic places unknown; the Orient Express has burned its name into the history books as a poster-child of international travel by rail. Originally connecting major cities as far West as London and as far East as Istanbul, this former behemoth of long distance transit was once the only practical option for those looking to travel considerable distances through Europe. It wasn't until the development of the automobile and, later on, the airplane that trains like the Orient Express began to lose popularity as the preeminent means of travel. Cost-efficiency, convenience, and speed of newer alternatives took precedent over tradition and the last Direct Orient Express, originally initiated in 1883, was withdrawn in 1977.
The Romantic Memory Meets a Newfangled Reality
The truth about this rail-bound relic was quite different than what the modern observer may imagine. Films and books such as Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express" conjure up images of whimsical landscapes, eccentric characters, and a mysterious atmosphere that almost makes the famed route seem magical or other-worldly. Throughout the years various private companies have made several attempts at reinvigorating the spirit of the original train offering select routes on restored and replica carriages, but these attempts have been met with marginal success in their attempts to capture the essence of intrigue and indulgence perceived by pop culture. While the trip from one end of Europe to the other may very well have included any number of these colorful elements, though, the main purpose of the original Orient Express was plain transportation. In the end, the Orient Express itself was murdered; falling victim to the likes of bullet trains and jumbo jets, gradually dismissed by a progressive emphasis on new technology.
Long-distance travel by rail has taken on a new likeness in the modern day, far-removed from any ordinary transportation. The contemporary traveler's obvious weapon of choice for basic transit to and fro would be a versatile rental car or, for far-away locations, a quick plane ride. For travel agendas aimed at exploring a specific country or certain locale it's no surprise that speed and efficiency take precedence in getting from one spot to the next and the focus remains on the destination rather than the experience of getting there. While new methods of transportation have evolved over the years, so have the bygones, leaving the opportunity for tour providers to occupy a splendidly unique niche in presenting tourists with travel options that are anything but ordinary.
Setting the Bar in a Budding Industry
The realm of touring by rail has most recently been introduced to what is sure to set the new standard in luxury trains with the launch of Golden Eagle's new "Jewels of Persia" line. Running from the city of Budapest to Tehran with stops at cities like Cappadocia and Istanbul the route will take passengers through "destinations that are rarely experienced by the Western visitor" and offer an exclusive experience uncommon to even the most seasoned tourists. Touting luxurious accommodations on classically inspired carriages complete with restaurant and bar cars, the trip itself is surely as much (if not more) an attraction than the exotic destinations along the way.
Golden Eagle has truly embodied the essence of the old-time Orient Express and presents it in a neatly wrapped package. By catering to an emerging market and focused on capturing the romantic spirit of days old the "Jewels of Persia" line is a spectacle to behold in and of itself. The journey spans 14 days, leaving passengers with plenty of time to relax and unwind in their sumptuous first-class quarters as they watch the magnificent scenery pass by outside. Available options from Golden Eagle also include trips that explore locations everywhere from their "Trans-Siberian Express" in Russia to the "Balkan Explorer", which ventures from Istanbul to Venice. Regardless of how travel tech has changed the industry from the times of the original Orient Express, Golden Eagle's new offering makes it evident that there are still those who seek unique travel experiences above and beyond the ordinary.