In little more than a century, the Orient Express
has become perhaps the most celebrated train ever to grace a set of tracks, earning top billing in Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express and films inspired by the book. It's no surprise, then, that the latest incarnation---the Venice-Simplon Orient Express
---has earned a Luxist Awards' nominee in the Best International Summer Vacation category.
The first direct Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul rattled down the tracks in 1889 after years of earlier editions dominated by treacherous transfers in the middle of the route. Bookended by two world wars, the roaring 1920s and 1930s saw the Express ferrying hordes of Europe's most glamorous citizens across the continent. But the middle of the century brought many changes in the world of transportation, and by the dawn of the new millennium, old-fashioned cars had been largely replaced by high-speed trains like the TGV.
Thanks to the privately-operated Venice-Simplon Orient Express
, however, the tradition continues. Only one such train runs from Paris to Istanbul per year, but the itinerary is well worth the wait. Start in the City of Lights and watch as the French countryside fades away in the twilight. You'll wake up in Hungary, disembarking for an overnight stay in Budapest and a tour of the city the following day. As the train chugs east, you'll spend another night onboard before another urban jaunt, this time to Bucharest. City turns to countryside as you traverse Bulgaria, terminating in Istanbul.
The six-night trip offers ample time to enjoy the luxurious amenities of the Orient Express
---champagne poured by white-gloved hands, opulently appointed cabins-while taking in the sights and sounds of Europe. Rooms range from $4,680 to $14,290, based on double occupancy. And unlike the original Orient Express
, this one doesn't require any uncomfortable transfers via horse-drawn carriage.
for the International Summer Vacation destination that you think is the best of breed. The winner will be announced on September 1st.