European Stars And Stripes Newspaper Archives Dec 23 1999, Page 51

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European Stars and Stripes (Newspaper) - December 23, 1999, Darmstadt, HesseThursday december 23, 1999 stars and stripes travel Page 23 relax be served you re Riding the Orient express by Jean Allen Sun Sentinel South Florida q. I d like to ride on the Ori ent express train in Europe but after seeing photos of passengers boarding in Beautiful expensive clothing and wearing tuxedos and formal gowns at night i m not sure my wardrobe is up to snuff. Is the Orient express an exercise in snob Appeal or what Tonii for would we Ordinary Nav la travellers be snubbed by the upper crust set on Board your answer will help me decide whether to tour on this famous train in 2000. A.r., Boca Raton Fla. A. Not to worry. I m pretty sure that the people in those photos Are models. I did t see them when i Rode the train last summer. It s True though that some passengers did Wear Beautiful runway Quality gowns and Slinky minimal slip dresses to dinner. The train s own literature notes that you can never be Over dressed on the Orient express and prescribes that in the evening you May choose to be As Classy As you can some people took this very seriously. But there were As Many unremarkable Street length dresses As knockouts Many dark suits among the tuxedos. About the Only things not worn in daytime were jeans and shorts. Among the passengers i got to know was a woman who works for the City of los Angeles a pair of chatty new sealanders a mysterious French couple shews older Are they married or what we wondered and a frail older woman attended by two husky Young men none was standoffish we get a lot of honeymooners and people celebrating anniversaries train manager Miguel Delacerda said. We have catered to Liza Minelli Jerry Lewis Peter Ustinov and Many other i wonder where the people who brought two outfits a Day and one for each evening put their clothes. There Are no Clos ets in the compartments on the Orient express which is made up of refurbished cars that go Back to 1883, when to a the train first started i Fotel running our train cars were built in 1929. Clothes Are Hung on a few hangers on Hooks around the Walls and what s left goes on an overhead rack there Are no drawers. The train staff urged us to Check larger bags which we could retrieve at the end of the trip but few passengers were willing to give up anything they packed expressly to Wear on the train. There is a sink in each room toilets at the end of each car and no showers. When the Orient express was established it was considered unnecessary to pro vide bathing facilities on Jour Neys of less than four Days according to Delacerda. Electrical outlets Are for razors Only. Modern passengers Are Able to Shower or Bathe at least every other Day. On our 1,546-mile, five Day sultans and doges route from Istanbul through Bulgaria Roma Nia Hungary Austria and Italy ending in Venice we spent one night in a Bucharest hotel had Day rooms at a hotel in Budapest and slept aboard three nights. Another reminder of old time were the miniature furnaces at the end of each car tended bythe car s Porter who fed in Coal to heat water and provide steam heat when needed. But forget All the Little foibles All in All the trip was great fun partly because this train is so file meals have Long been a big production on the train with snowy Linen papery attentive stewards and elaborate menus. On most trains Pas sengers look out at people on the platform on the Orient express it s just As interesting to took at who s sitting at the next table. There really is no reason for this Vintage train to exist except for the cachet of Riding it which seems to be enough of a draw to fill it on nearly every trip. It provides a nostalgic ride to the past with White Glove service. Famous. On most trains passengers look out at the people on the platform on the Orient express they re looking in at us a Pas Senger remarked. Indeed. During an Early morn ing station Stop in Bulgaria we watched passing businessmen with briefcases and women dressed like russian Babushka and they watched us. A woman rapped on my window held up ared Rose and smiled gesturing for me to take it i am such Adolfus i could t get the window open and i could t find my camera. I smiled and shrugged until she walked away. Most trains Are just transportation. The Orient express is a destination in itself. Meals were a big production with snowy Linen papery attentive stewards and elaborate menus we stopped for an overnight in Bucharest an excursion to a Castle in Transylvania and a Day in Budapest. There is really no reason Fortis Vintage train to exist except for the cachet of Riding it which seems to be enough to fill it on nearly every trip it is a nostalgic ride to the past with private passenger compartments White Glove service and gourmet Cui sine. Porters in attractive Blue Liv Ery to match the Royal Blue Gold trimmed train were adept at changing daytime sofas into bunk Beds. We chatted with our Porter Steve Locke a Young Man obviously educated at a Good English Public school. He brought breakfast and afternoon Tea to our rooms and gave us daily gifts Candy in pretty tins a Small bottle of Apple the romanian hungarian Border we heard Locke who had collected our passports win a argument with immigration men who wanted to get us All up in the Middle of the night. The original route of the 1883 Orient express was from Paris to Istanbul but the train today goes to Eastern Europe and beyond so Seldom Only two visits to Istanbul in 1999 that we were greeted everywhere by bands and welcoming signs. The modern version of the Orient express began in 1982, after american James b. Sher Wood bought the first two cars at a rotheby s auction then spent four years finding and restoring other Vintage rail cars. Our train had 15 cars including three dining rooms a piano bar car two staff baggage cars and carried 69 passengers in Pullman compartments. We were a mix of americans japanese British French new sealanders and australians. The Orient express runs a variety of trips of various lengths year around cities visited in clude London Paris Venice Dusseldorf Florence Rome Vienna Prague and Monte Carlo. British Pullman runs Day trips in England with Orient express equipment. Reservations Are handled by Abercrombie and Kent Call 800 524-2420

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