Product Features and Details
It's been 125 years since the "Train Éclair" chuffed and clattered out of the old Gare de Strasbourg in Paris. The first run of that experimental train was pure adventure theatre, yet it proved the validity of a startling concept that remains so to this day: express, luxury travel between Paris and Constantinople (Istanbul) without the need ever to leave the sybaritic comfort of the train. In the days of visas, rubber-stamps and truculent, envious officials, the idea of such a train was indeed innovative.
By 1888 the train was called the "Orient-Express" and the station where it originated every evening had become the "Gare de l'Est". What happened to the "Orient-Express" on its way into the twentieth century is the history of what may well be the greatest train in . well, history. Sadly, the "O-E" doesn't exist today except as an occasional nostalgie indulgence for addicted train buffs or as the ultra-snooty concoction that now runs from Paris to Venice and costs a passenger more to ride on it than most people's cars. The story of the real "Orient-Express" however, is so compelling that it's small wonder the train goes on fascinating each new generation.
Adding to the vast literature of the "Orient-Express", a new, magazine-format commemorative publication by "Eisenbahn-Journal" presents the nostalgia and mystique associated with that wonder-train for readers of present generations to savor. In its glossy pages you'll find the exotic locomotives, the restaurant and sleeping cars in teak, velvet and bronze and, later, the sleek royal blue and mahogany ones hauling kings, patricians and spies across the grand European stage between 1883 and 1939. By the time the Second World War and the Cold War forced a battered "Orient-Express" to its lamented demise, 56 years of legend and anecdote had become enshrined in the lore of the International Sleeping Car Company, proprietor of the "Orient-Express". A fair sampling of that lore is recounted in this German language publication. For those who don't read German, the old photographs and posters tell an epic tale of the high-water mark the train represents in the story of civilized railroading. For everyone who loves a good adventure aboard stylish trains, this new addition to the lore of the "Orient-Express" is not to be missed.
Reviewed by Alec Nesbitt