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Got ’em! 10 Cabins for Orient-Express Istanbul Extravaganza

By Owen C. Hardy

Military band at Budapest station greets Orient-Express.

The world economy is picking up steam. And travelers are dashing for luxury trains — especially the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

That’s especially true for next year’s two annual trips: Paris-Istanbul (Aug. 31-Sept. 5) and Istanbul-Venice (Sept. 7-12).

The recent PBS special featuring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot on “Murder on the Orient Express,” as well as his travelogue on the train, set phones ringing  around the world. People want to do what David Suchet did — enjoy several nights on the Orient Express in all its elegance and splendor, with hotels and sightseeing, too.

If you want a spot, contact us now.  The wait list is long for Paris-Istanbul 2012. If your heart is set on that trip, better get on the list now for 2013.  The wait list is lengthy for the 2012 Istanbul-Venice journey, too. The difference: The Society of IRT is honored to have been allocated space for up to 20 guests for this final departure of the season. (There are no Paris-Istanbul allocations.)

The Paris-Istanbul and Istanbul-Venice itineraries are identical except for direction of travel and the western terminal city. But if you choose Istanbul-Venice – and do it very soon – we can confirm you immediately.

“The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is not reality; it is delightful, delirious fantasy.” I’m quoting myself after our 2003 Paris-Istanbul group tour celebrating the IRT Society’s 20th anniversary. We published a long article about the trip in The International Railway Traveler.®

I’m not gushing. Every stop was an event.

‘Old-Timer’ Istanbul streetcar

“A 40-person VSOE staff on the train, and a further 40 staff ‘ashore,’ pulled off this logistical three-ring-circus,” I said. “Our train was met by everything from a red-jacketed Hungarian military band to native-clad Bulgarian dancers to the exotic, reedy whine of Ottoman-style Turkish musicians.”

You may have visited the itineraries’ stops:  Paris, Venice, Istanbul, Budapest, Bucharest and Varna, Bulgaria. But if you haven’t visited them on the Orient-Express, you’ll have missed one of the iconic rail tours of all time.

Cost: $9,750 per person, double, or $14,710, single, for Istanbul-Venice.

Click here to reserve, then we’ll call you to confirm your space and to take an immediate 15% credit card deposit. Be sure you give us your correct phone and email. We’ll take deposits in the order of reservations.

Please don’t wait.  We’ll be able to hold onto these cabins for a week or two at best.

And if you’ve traveled on one of the Istanbul journeys, please reply here!