The Magic & The Mystery Of The Orient Express Cycling Tour
“TDA in our view are masters at long haul bike touring. Michele and I have now completed five trips with your company around all parts of the world and all have been fantastic . The Orient Express is a great tour for cyclists of all levels. We found Eastern Europe very interesting, being a place not previously visited. A big thanks to all for making our trip so enjoyable.” – Anthony & Michele Kline (Australia), 2022 Orient Express
We have run our classic Paris to Istanbul tour 11 times since 2005 and it remains one of our most popular routes. From the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, the riders will marvel at the medieval towns of Provins and Troyes, enjoy mid-morning coffee and cake stops and explore the beautiful university town of Freiburg. They will spin along the Danube Cycleway, a 1,357 km dedicated bicycle path that runs along the banks of the Danube River, and take in the stunning Art Nouveau & Baroque Architecture in Vienna. The famous thermal baths in Budapest will soothe their cycling muscles before they tackle the challenging Transfăgărășan Pass in Romania. From the imposing Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, the route follows quiet country roads in Bulgaria, stopping to appreciate the unique architecture of Veliko Tarnovo, before leading the cyclists into Turkey and the finish line on the shores of the Bosphorus Strait.
Over the past 18 years that the Orient Express has operated, there have been a number of blogs written about the experience. We have selected 10 of them that, we think, best reflect the magic and majesty of this classic cycling route.
A brief recap of some of the most memorable times over the years including a talent show that produced a tour theme song and a list of German treasures like the Black Forest, the cuckoo clock, the town where Albert Einstein was born and the Ulm Munster, the tallest church in the world.
In 2017, the security situation in Turkey and Istanbul meant that the Orient Express was shortened and ended in Varna, Bulgaria on the shores of the Black Sea. It was the smallest group ever for the ride and Catalin Pricoiu, one of the field staff, wrote about the effect that had on the tour and the participants.
In this piece from 2013, we took aim at some of the myths surrounding the Orient Express such as – Like the Orient Express trains, this is a luxury bike tour. False. Though highly enjoyable, this tour is for those with an adventurous spirit and a willingness to occasionally step out of their comfort zone.
Former Orient Express Tour Leader & long time TDA staffer Shanny Hill explained why Thomas Stevens, who rode a similar route across Europe in the 1880’s, would have been thrilled to sign up for our tour.
Certainly one of the highlights of cycling across Europe is the ability to sample some of the world’s greatest cuisines. In this blog we explored the highlights of eating out in the historically, culturally and most important, gastronomically blessed city of Istanbul.
6 – Goodbye Romania
Way back in 2008, when the Orient Express was still a mix of hotels and camping, the staff wrote about their experiences in Romania, good and bad, and came up with a tour theme song, sung along to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s classic ‘My Way.’
Over the years we have had, as you might expect, a number of fascinating characters take part in the ride. At 81, Neil van Steenbergen was a favourite amongst the staff for his free spirited, curious and enthusiastic approach to living.
8 – Home To Toronto
TDA Marketing Manager Shanny Hill was the Tour Leader on the first Orient Express Tour all the way back in 2005. Here he looked back on the last day’s ride into Istanbul which turned out to be much different than he expected.
Ever wonder just how the Orient Express gets organized? In this piece, Operations Manager Miles MacDonald reveals some of the steps that TDA Global Cycling takes prior to the tour’s actual start in Paris.
In 2011, we reflected on cycling through Bavaria. “It’s the only place in Germany I’ve seen where you can witness someone walking down the street in traditional dress (imagine a costume that blends a classic waitress uniform and a wizards’ robe, minus the spell casting wand).”
Spaces are still available on the 2024 Orient Express tour which starts July 7th, 2024 in Paris France.
It was in 1889 that the original Orient Express train completed the Paris to Istanbul route for the first time. Our cycling version of the Orient...