ORIENT EXPRESS (continued)

French teachers in threadbare frocks on their way back to the Moldau provinces. Ottoman nobility, their heirloom “âge inconnu” insulted to death when called “Turks”. The train never lacked refugees seeking shelter.

When the Orient Express endeavoured her first voyage in 1883, only the rich could afford to go.

First-Class rail tickets were obligatory, and with the supplement for Wagons-Lits, the cost totalled around 60 pounds sterling.
A round trip for two would finance a year’s rent for a decent home in a smart part of London.

There were special reduced supplements for servants accompanying their masters , 15 pounds sterling less –of course in servants’ compartments at the end of the coaches.
The valets fare roughly equalled his annual wage at the time !

The idea of joining Vienna to Constantinople by railway had been actively pursued since 1869 when the Ottoman Empire granted Baron Maurice de Hirsch  a concession to build the Oriental Railways (CO or Chemins de Fer Orientaux).

In the 19th century a railway was the most suitable means for the Ottoman Empire to keep its European occupied territories Bosnia, Serbia and Rumania in control.
By 1873, Baron de Hirsch had managed to build the line towards Sofia, simultaniously starting from the ports of Constantinople and Alexandropolis.

With the decline of the Ottoman Empire in Europe, the Russians managed to delay further progress, using the Bulgarian separation as an excuse for prohibiting Germany’s and Austria’s overland access to Constantinople.
By 1870 Baron de Hirsch had built a railway from Varna on the Black Sea to Rustchuck (‘Ruse’) on the Bulgarian Donau banks. A ferry brought the passengers to the Rumanian side to Giurgewo that could be reached from Bucarest.
Steamers of the Austrian Lloyd connected Varna with Constantinople.

By 1882 , the Vienna-Paris traffic had become so massive, the railway companies found themselves forced to run trains of sleeping and dining cars only.
This resulted in great time-saving, since it eliminated the need to stop for meals.

Moreover, carrying a small number of first-class passengers who had only hand luggage for inspection, delays at borders could be shortened. Heavy luggage, called “Registered  Bagage”, could be sealed in the fourgon and examined on arrival.

On Tuesday the10th October 1882, 18:51, the very first International Train de Luxe consisting of Wagons-Lits carriages and a fourgon provided by the EST Railway, left the Gare de Strasbourg in Paris (later called Gare de l’Est ) for the 2000 kilometer journey to Vienna.
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