Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, President

Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, President
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watching a bad era end

watching a bad era end
nighmare 2012-2013

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Farida, Farah, Nariman 23 Sep. 2010

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Eid El-Adha

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Yasmine on 2nd Sep., I on 20 Oct.
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25 March 2008

The Orient Express




The Orient Express

By Hoda Nassef


Travelling by train in Luxury is a dream of the past!

The Orient Express was inaugurated in Paris on 4 October 1883. It was the beginning of a legend. The Orient Express soon became the fastest and most luxurious method of transportation in that century. Each cabin was different. Often called ‘The Grand Hotel on Wheels’, the Orient Express transported its passengers with class and luxury close to 60 years. Its clients were the rich and famous of Europe.

Even Queen Elizabeth travelled with the Orient Express. Its original route started from Strasbourg to Romania, via Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest and the Balkans. In 4 days, 3,200 kilometres in dignified comfort of grandiose palaces of the era. After their meals, the male passengers were guided by levied waiters to the special smoking-wagon to smoke their Havana cigars in order to digest their meals, and were served champagne, caviar and mezza.The Orient Express was a symbol of a formula for a voyage of romance, adventure, and pleasure, within its journey on wheels across Europe, through fascinating villages and countries of culture.

Passengers travelled in private cabins and each cabin was given a private steward to assure the passenger of a unique and attentive service. Furthermore, each cabin was transformed into a bedroom for the night and had its private bathroom.The interior of the cabins were lined with ‘lacquer de Chine’ and ‘marqueterie de bois’, and all the snacks and meals were freshly prepared on board and on the spot by French chefs, throughout the voyages.

Attention to details and luxury was found in all the wagons. The coaches even had piano-bars. The piano-bar cabin was the ideal place to stretch out; a magical spot for the passengers to absorb themselves in conversation with the tinkling of music in the background.
1931 marked the era of the luxurious express train, with 2,268 coaches. But, World War II brought a brutal end to the era of the Orient Express; the trains were either totally destroyed or requisitioned.

In 1970, nothing was left of the train; the wagons were dispersed throughout Europe, and successive wars afterwards gave a reason for this disappearing myth.

Business tycoon James Sherwood bought two of the vehicles, with the intention of collecting bit by bit pieces of the ‘puzzle’. A few years and 11 million sterling pounds later, he reassembled the 35 coaches. Actress Liza Minnelli was the one who inaugurated the reincarnation of this train in 1982.

Various travel routes were proposed by the Orient Express; from London to Istanbul or Rome; from Prague to Vienna, passing Venice. The possibilities were multiple. However, the Orient Express offered its original itinerary - from Paris to Istanbul.

The Orient Express also inspired the great mystery writer, Dame Agatha Christie, with one of her most famous suspense stories, introducing her famed hero, Hercules Poirot. An adaptation of the story was made into a film in 1974.
These days, the idea or reliving the Golden Age of Voyaging was reborn even in Asia and Australia. The luxurious Eastern and Oriental Express crosses the peninsula of Singapore, over Malaysia and to Bangkok. Voyagers can admire the beautiful sceneries, which are sometimes only visible when travelling by train. In Australia, the Great South Pacific Express travels east, passing by Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns.

The satin upholstery, the red cedar panelling, the comfort, as well as the beautiful interior décor, seems to be a train of our times, but belongs to an era of the past.

H.N.

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