The Magyars who overran the Carpathian Basin and settled in Budapest around the first millennium were fast, brutal, clever, smallish raiders on light horses with minimal armor whose use of the latest technology–spurs–allowed them to plunder and outmaneuver enemies as far away as the Iberian peninsula.
We’ve now traveled by sleeper coach train through every major west European country except Spain (including our own version of the Orient Express), and it’s uncanny how the experience has reflected the culture of the train’s country of origin. The French coach was dignified and correct, if a bit […]
This weird statue–named Man with a Snake (to signify War) and soaring over Hősök tere (Heroes Square) on a stormy Budapest morning–set us to puzzling over chariots: First of all, wouldn’t the charioteer have been better off hanging on? Chariots had iron-rimmed wheels with zero suspension and could barely […]
The original Orient Express started running in 1881 from Paris to Istanbul via the northern, Romanian route (Paris-München-Wien-Budapest-București-Istanbul). After World War I, the southern route substituted Belgrade-Sofia for București to bypass the worst of the Balkan political mayhem. After growing up with Agatha Christie (Murder On the Orient Express), Graham Greene (Stamboul Train), and Ian […]
In Eastern Europe all of the way to the Bosphorus, everyone speaks English–except for the tourists. Whether it’s a French girl talking to her Romanian uncle, an Austrian passenger ordering coffee from a Turkish conductor, or an Italian with a defective passport remonstrating with a Bulgarian border guard, […]