Venice – Simplon-Orient-Express – Venice, Veneto, Italy
The Train of Kings, the King of Trains
The first Orient-Express pulled out of Paris for Istanbul in 1883 for the 1,700-mile trip across Europe. Suspended in 1977, it is now on a roll again as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) and still the journey of a lifetime.
The legendary original rail cars of inlaid marquetry and polished brass have had their original 19th-century splendor impeccably restored and once again offer the most advanced and luxurious rail travel available, albeit minus the spies, silent film stars, and royalty of yesteryear.
Much of the 1920s glamour and mystique of Agatha Christie still lingers, the dining and white- gloved service as faultless as one could hope from the world’s most famous train ride, a kind of grand hotel on wheels.
The train now offers a network of routes across the continent (connecting Rome, Prague, and Istanbul, for example) but the traditional thirty-two-hour Venice to London trip is still the most commonly booked.
And though there are a number of stops and ever-changing scenery along the way, the Orient-Express is about the train itself. As rail travel becomes increasingly about high-velocity records and service that is perfunctory at best, here is the chance to travel back in time to the Golden Age of Rail.