Friday, September 07, 2007

Carpe Diem

Railways. Nostalgia. History. And old photographs.

Nostalgia and good memories -for me- can be the only thing keeping my going during though times. I can easily have nostalgic memories of times, places and movies;)
Nostalgia absolutely for the good old days...

What the trains make you to think about? A place for meetings or departures as seen in the photo above? To my thinking, train journeys are easy to romanticize. Always a memorable journey with trains into the past, don't you think so? I'm not all nostalgic one but the news here made me led to more digging around and thinking in old:)

If you ask someone to name the most romantic and exotic railway journey in the world, the popular answer would be the Orient Express, that even today it still runs. (Following Orient Express-Old Advertising poster, taken from Wikipedia.)

If we go back, in 1883 the era of great international express trains began with the Orient Express from Paris to Constantinople (today's Istanbul). As the terminus for the Orient Express' 3,000 kilometer journey from Paris, Sirkeci Station was built in 1890 on the European side, where is in the old heart of the City on the edge of two continents. Thus, the Station offered a passage to Europe as the City is divided into west and east parts by the Bosphorus Strait. I should emphasise that this 100-year-old station in a more than 1,000-year-old city is about to experience another turning point in its all long ancient life.

In late 1800's various routings were explored. By the mid-20th century, the train's route has been stabilized: Paris (Gare de L'est), Lausenne, Milan, Venice, Trieste, Belgrade, Sofia and to Istanbul. For more, visit here.

To accomodate the passengers of the Orient Express, the Pera Palace Hotel was built in 1892 by 'Compagnie Internationale des Wagonslits et des Grands Expresses Europeens', French architect Alexander Valley. Still reflects the spirit of that period. Offers a beautiful panaromic view over Golden Horn and Pera (known as Beyoglu today). The eclectic-style Pera Palace utilized the most advanced building techniques of the period and has the oldest electric elevator in the City. Below is inside of the Pera Palace Hotel, attention for charming marble columns.

I do enjoy a lot having my tea time at this wonderful hotel if or when I am happen here around Pera Region, because all is so stylish here:) It was also the Hotel where legendary British Mystery Tales Writer Agatha Christie stayed here for several times when she was in Istanbul, and she wrote her famous novel ''Murder On The Orient Express'' in her room no 411. Her room is now a 'Museum Room' dedicated in her memory.

The Hotel has been a favorite place also for Ataturk, King Edward VIII of England, President Tito of Yugoslavia, dancer and spy Mata Hari, Sarah Bernhardt, the Shah of Iran, writer Ernest Hemingway, Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis, actress Greta Lovisa Garbo... so long list of politicians, spies, kings, presidents.

To the news I read, the 124-year-old Orient Express is arrived in Istanbul (to the Sirkeci Station) yesterday. Its tour began from Paris, continuing to Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest, Varna and ending in Istanbul. This tour brought 90 passengers to Istanbul, and they each paid 6,000 Euro for the trip. The Orient Express is planned to depart Istanbul tomorrow on Sept 8th from Istanbul to Venice with new passengers.

Really fascinating famed rail history for a Train: A famous orientalist Station and a glorious Hotel. Both of them have been built for only ''the Orient Express.'' Amazing!

As Sir William McAlpine, former owner of the original Flying Scotsman Locomotive, said that ''To relax in great luxury and be cosseted by a friendly crew is the ultimate extravagance. One of the most romantic experiences in life must surely be to dine on a train.''
so that it is already placed in my wish-list to experience this true taste of old-fashioned stylish luxury the Orient Express one day in my life:) How about you?

I think that learning how to resurrect, enjoy and even make good memories can be a great talent. However lets try our best to reach and getting touch with happier times!


  1. Again, a very good column to read. Thank you Nihal and have a nice weekend !

  2. What a wonderful informative post! And now - a year and a half later we will ride the Orient Express again!