Saturday, December 19, 2009

Memories of the Orient Express

When I recently visited Istanbul, I stayed in a small hotel in the historic Sultanahmed district of the city.The advantage of that location is, that many of Istanbul's most famous landmarks are literally within walking distance. One of my first stops was Sirkeci Gare, which once upon a time was the final destination of the Orient Express of Agatha Christie fame. Anyone who has seen or read Murder in the Orient Express cannot possibly pass up the opportunity to visit the picturesque location. Built in what is known as the oriental version of the German Jugenstil (the architect was actually German) today's Orient Express does no longer run as far as Istanbul. But the building has been lovingly preserved and restored and the restaurant inside the statoon which was once the First Class waiting room, conveys the atmosphere of time gone by. Many photographs of famous travelers who were passengers of the Orient Express adorn the walls. They used to proceed to the Pera Palace Hotel, as in fact Mrs. Christie did, who wrote her novel there. The hotel is at present closed under extensive renovations but will no doubt reopen in even greater splendor.

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