Saturday, November 26, 2011

Paris to Istanbul

On my bucket-list I have a trip from Paris to Istanbul via the Venice Simplon Orient Express.
by Charlie Leck

Do you have a bucket-list? When I tell people I do, they think it’s because of the Jack Nicholson movie of a few years ago. Not true! I remember the term from years and years ago as it was used by my grandparents to designate some of the most important things they wanted to do yet in their lifetimes.

I have a number of little adventures I put down on my bucket list. I have it posted to keep me thinking about how I’m going to fit them in. A trip to Prague now has a line drawn through it. I made that wonderful adventure with my wife this past September. We had an extraordinary time and loved the city.

There are some simple things on my list; like a trip to Oklahoma (one of the last two states I’ve yet to visit). That little excursion might only involve a quick flight down and back, but, perhaps, I’d stay long enough to play golf on a couple of famous Oklahoma golf courses. A cruise through Alaska’s inner waterways on a small ship is also on the list (that’s the other state to which I’ve not been). Here are the other things I have on the list.

  • A nearly two week train trip across Canada – from Toronto to Vancouver – with interesting and remarkable stops along the way. (I love Canada and I love traveling by train).
  • A day or two of golf at the remarkable Pacific Dunes Resort in Oregon.
  • A baseball game at Fenway Stadium in Boston
  • A visit to the village of Leck in northern Germany (near the border with Denmark)

The major trip I’ve not included above is a voyage on the modern version of the famous Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul. It’s a 6 day/5 night journey aboard the most luxurious train in the world. The train only makes the trip once each year. In 2012 it will leave Paris on August 30. That would mean that I’d spend my birthday on a train – as I did this year – and nothing pleases me more. The tickets range from ten to twenty thousand dollars. So, it’s one of those maybe adventures. The economy would have to make a strong improvement between now and then.

Paris to Istanbul
The train leaves from Gare de l’Est in the afternoon with tea, dinner and an overnight stay on the train. The train rolls into Hungary on Saturday. Breakfast is brought to one’s cabin and lunch is served in the very attractive dining card.

The night is spent in a luxury hotel in Budapest. One can dine at the hotel that evening or seek out another restaurant in the city. Breakfast is at the hotel and it’s followed by a guided tour of the city that sits upon the Danube River, with a lunch along the way. Dinner and the night will be upon the train as it rolls into Romania.

In Romania the train will stop in the mountain village of Sinaia. Passengers disembark for a visit to the Peles Castle (it was also visited by the travelers on the original Orient Express in 1883). After reboarding, the train travels on to Bucharest and passengers join a guided toward of the city and have dinner and spend the night in the Athenée Palace Hotel.

In the morning the train moves on to the south and crosses the Danube and enters Bulgaria. A short stop allows the passengers to enjoy a small village town and then the train moves on through the night.

On the final evening the train enters Turkey and crosses the Thracian Plain. In the afternoon the travelers arrive at the Sirkici Station in Istanbul

Dreams, I believe, are what make life so wonderful. They take us beyond the ordinary and allow us to experience some of the remarkable and unreachable wonders of our lives. I’m going to keep thinking that my life still includes enough time to make this trip to Istanbul and to enjoy the marvel of travel on a luxurious and splendid train.

Do you have a bucket-list? What’s on it?


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