The beautiful and elegant Orient Express we now know is a new and not the original Orient Express. The original Orient Express, considered by many as the really true descendant of the very first Express d’Orient train is the one that had gone from Paris in 1883. About 125 years old or so, the Orient Express’ history can be traced from 1883 to 2009. The two expensive tourist trains known that time were the Orient Express, which is actually the Venice Simplon Orient Express and the Nostalgic Orient Express which is as beautiful as the Venice Simplon Trains.
Strasbourg- Giurgiu Route in 1883
And so in 1883, Express d’Orient began service twice weekly. First stop at Strasbourg and last stop at Giurgiu where the travelers would traverse the Danube River by ferryboat. The ride would go all the way to Bulgaria to meet a second train that would be picking up all passengers for the 7-hour journey to Varna on the Black Sea. After which an Austrian Lloyd steamer would join for the 14-hour sea expedition to Constantinople in Istanbul.
Paris-Vienna Route in 1889
Through the years, Express d’Orient’s service improved and became a daily trip doing the Paris-Munich-Vienna itinerary while at the same time, continuing operations twice a week from Vienna to Giurgiu to be picked up by the ferryboat to Ruse, Bulgaria. It was in 1889 that Express d’Orient started doing direct Paris-Constantinople operations and eventually officially named The Orient Express. After that Orient Express experienced incessant suspension of operations from left to right.
And finally in1919, Simplon Orient Express began its services and operations as the newest addition to Orient Express. They traversed the Southerly path from Paris heading to various places including Trieste, Lausanne, Belgrade Milan, Venice, and Istanbul beginning in 1920. They particularly took this path to be bale to avoid Germany that time. The Allies did not have full trust of the Germans at that time; thus, taking the route of Calais-Istanbul instead.
Looking back at history, we would see that it was actually the Venice Simplon Orient Express which stopped operations in 1977 when suddenly the Orient Express was asked to cut back its services. The Orient Express therefore was limited to running only from Paris to Vienna. With this the company lost several of its cars and seats from Paris to Budapest, even its sleeping car from Paris to Bucharest which ran twice a week. At that time, the name Orient Express almost got snuffed out.
However, it continued existing. It was beautifully brought back into full operations for some time again. However, in June 2007 when it started to run again its services since the TGV-Est express lines resumed operations, the Orient Express for Paris-Vienna route got cut back again. So that time, they had no other choice but to just run services from Strasbourg to Vienna.
And it was so unfortunate that it happened again and was announced that come December this year, specifically on December 12, 2009, the Orient Express’ Strasbourg-Vienna route is finally going to be withdrawn after a long period of 125 years.