Orient Express 2013 – Changes & Reflections
The 2013 Orient Express Tour will be the lucky 7th edition of the classic ride from Paris, France to Istanbul, Turkey. While the essence of the Tour has not changed in this time period; the essence being the joy of cycling on a supported Tour across a beautiful continent with like-minded adventurers, the organization and style of the Tour have evolved.
Along the route in Europe there are countless options for which way to turn, and each year of the Orient Express we’ve been able to improve the route by selecting quieter and more scenic roads. France is an amazing country for this reason. In our journey through the Champagne region we cycle along country roads that weave into and out of farmland and forests, and villages full of beautiful stone homes. I have done the Tour 3 times and each time we have chosen a new route in France, the latest one though we will stick with, as it is not only great cycling but allows us to stay in the picturesque town of Plombieres les Bains
Our route in Germany and Austria has been quite stable these past years, as there is not much to improve when it comes to the Danube cycle way. Our riders love this long stretch of bike path following the river with its lush green forest, historical cities like Passau and Vienna, and of course cold Bavarian Beer. There was one change we made though that everyone enjoyed and that is taking a brief detour from the Danube Trail to follow the Altmuehl Trail another bike path system that allows us to see a more secluded face of the German countryside.
Probably the biggest change we’ve made over the years was on our route from Budapest to Bucharest. We took an initiative to explore Transylvania in Romania, and it was a big success. I have personally had quite a few riders tell me on our Tour that a few stages in Transylvania are the most fun they’ve ever had on a bike! Not that it is easy, it’s a lot of climbing as we go up and over the Carpathian Mountains, but the winding, twisty descents and amazing rural scenery is not to be forgotten… and of course there’s Dracula’s castle to top things off.
This coming year we are going to make one more alteration. In Bulgaria we will be heading through the interior countryside and having a rest day in the mid-evil town of Veliko Tarnovo This is both so that we are able to see this beautiful city, as well as to avoid the roads along the Black Sea that have only grown busier and busier these last years.
Perhaps one of the largest differences over the years has been the quality and comfort of our accommodations. The Tour began as a more rustic affair, with even some bush camps (camps without any facilities) along the way. Over these past 6 editions we’ve managed to find very comfortable rest day hotels that our riders thoroughly enjoy, as well all of our campsites are professionally run with hot showers and usually near a town so people can check out the local attractions. The few cycling days, all in Eastern Europe, where there is no suitable camping we stay in hotels/hostels that allow us an opportunity to experience the local community as the hoteliers tend to be very proud of their towns and wish nothing more than for you to head on your way with a warm feeling in your heart for their hospitality.
Ten cyclists have already signed up for this legendary route. Join them today and cycle Paris to Istanbul in the summer of 2013.