'Five-star' Orient Express to link Hungary and Iran
Railway enthusiasts with a taste for nostalgia will soon be able to indulge their Orient Express fantasies after Hungarian Railways said it was launching a luxury Budapest-Tehran train service.
With ticket prices of between 10,000 and 23,000 euros ($13,000-31,000) per person, guests will receive "five-star" treatment including complimentary alcohol right up to the Iranian frontier, after which only "soft drinks and non-alcoholic beer" will be served, its brochure said.
"Iran has been opening up towards the west recently, so we thought the time was right to set this up," Marcella Beke, sales director of the "Nostalgia" branch of the Hungarian state-owned rail operator told AFP on Monday.
The first "Golden Eagle-Danube Express" train, which comprises 13 lavishly-decorated wood-panelled 1950s carriages and berths for about 70 guests, will set off from Budapest on October 15.
The two-week trip will cross Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, and take passengers through the ancient Iranian cities of Shiraz and Persepolis before reaching the capital Tehran.
All the berths on the maiden journey have already been snapped up, mostly by British and Australian passengers, Beke told AFP.
"Nostalgia fans needn't panic, another five trips are scheduled for 2015," she said.
The last Orient Express - which traditionally linked Paris and Istanbul - ran in 2009, with the luxury Venice Simplon-Orient Express continuing to run services between London and Venice.