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Obituary: The Orient Express
I've always wanted to ride the Orient Express, the famous Paris-to-Istanbul sleeper train made famous by countless movies and novels. It's an elegant train steeped in glamor and history. Ever since it opened in 1883 it was the way to go to the East. It's been one of my travel goals for as long as I can remember, but I figured I could always put it off until next year because it would always be there.
Today was it's last day.
Because the trip is more about the journey than the destination. Because you can't see the details of the land from an airplane window. Because people talk to each other on trains.
Yes, commentators are pointing out that the route has changed many times over the years, and the train that shut down today didn't even run the whole way anymore, but that's like saying that the Parthenon isn't the real thing because half of the stones are gone. Something old and wonderful has still died.
So next time you think you can leave a dream until "next year", don't. You might wake up and find the dream's over.
CLARIFICATION: There have been a couple of comments saying the Orient Express is still operating. The train that shut down is, indeed, the direct heir of the original Oriental Express, although it had stopped its full service decades ago. Modern companies, such as the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, have used variants of the name but are not the original service. The original Simplon Orient Express opened in 1919, although it too has gone through permutations over the years. For a time there were three "Orient Expresses" running simultaneously, with the Simplon being the second oldest. The original, true "Orient Express" started in 1883. The Venice-Simplon Orient Express is now the closest to the original we have, with vintage carriages from the 1920s and 30s. I'll have to ride it some day, assuming it doesn't go out of business too!