I’m sure just about anybody knows about the Orient Express, the super luxury train which once used to run from Paris to Istanbul. Made famous by Agatha Christie’s murder mystery ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, there wasn’t a politician, businessman, actor, writer, journalist or other celebrity who didn’t, at one time or another, make the four day journey in utter style. It was the in-thing to do at the beginning of the 20th century. The train ended at Istanbul’s Sirkeci Gare, a wonderful concoction of European art deco mixed with Eastern elements, built by a German, the architect August Jachmund.
Whilst the station itself is worth the visit, my romantic streak of nostalgia was fully indulged by a visit to what must be one of the tiniest museums in the world: the one room Orient Express museum. It’s located within the station, squeezed between the (rather unremarkable) restrooms and a community room where whirling dervishes perform five nights a week. Blink an eye and you miss the museum.
It consists of a single room, full of the most marvelous exhibits from the train itself and a vast documentation of its history. A real stove which provided heating, conductors’ uniforms, ancient type writers, everything related to the Orient Express is lovingly displayed. Admission is free and the lone receptionist will answer all your questions.
After a look at all the exhibits, a coffee in the Orient Express restaurant is certainly called for.