The Orient Express

Orient Express Carriage

After being attacked at a gypsy camp in From Russia With Love, Kerim vows to kill the leader of the band of Bulgars involved. He plans on shooting Krilencu when he tries to make an escape through a trap door in an advertising hoarding – Marilyn Monroe in the book and Anita Ekberg in the film.

After the hit on Krilencu, Bond returns to his hotel to find Russian cipher clerk Tatiana Romanova in his bed dressed in nothing but a black velvet ribbon around her neck. Having got hold of the Russian code machine – Spektor in the book and Lektor in the film – they plan to leave Istanbul on the Orient Express and make their way back to England, little knowing the role they are playing in an elaborate plot to discredit the British secret service.

The Orient Express originally started as a rail service between Paris to Istanbul in the 19th century. During its heyday in the 1930s it became a byword for luxury travel, with service characterised by fine wines, elaborate meals and the company of Royalty and celebrities and the service expanded to serve three different routes.

However, the advent of cheap air travel meant that passenger numbers for the Orient Express declined and by 1962 just the single route between Paris and Istanbul remained until 1977, when it too was withdrawn.

That seemed like the end of the Orient Express; however, a service under the Orient Express name continued to run between Paris and Bucharest until 2001, when the route was shortened to Vienna; and since 2007 the Orient Express has run between Strasbourg and Vienna.

However, while the original Orient Express service is a shadow of its former self, Venice-Simplon Orient Express operates a private luxury train service that travels from London to Venice using some of the original luxury carriages from the Orient Express’s golden years.

Operating between March and November, the service is operated by Orient-Express Hotels Ltd and as it is aimed at being an luxury experience rather than a means of transport – more like a leisure cruise on rails – the prices are correspondingly high.

Several routes are on offer, with the traditional Paris-Istanbul journey offered rarely. In 2010 the price was €6,580 per person for the six day journey.

David Leigh founded The James Bond Dossier in 2002. A fan of 007 since the age of 8, he is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. You can order a copy here if you don't own it already.

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4 Responses to “The Orient Express”

  • DR76

    Since the cinematic version of “FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE” is set in 1963, what train did Bond, Tatania Romanova and Kerim Bey traveled on in the movie?

  • Susan Kay-Attwood

    We visited Istanbul in 2010 and the museum at the station the Orient express used to leave from.

    We also walked past the drinking fountain in the bazaar and Basilica cistern used in the film.

  • David Leigh

    I’d love to visit Istanbul. It looks a fantastic city.

  • Alan Smith

    Istanbul looks wonderful. I used to love reading the book as a kid and imagine the Orient Express. I would love to visit.

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