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Danube Express Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Europe, Hungary, Iran, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey
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Danube Express - Members of the Club (free to join) benefit from:
- discount off the published prices of any journey;
- a thank-you gift for every booking;
- 7 nights for the price of 3. Transylvanian Eastbound. May 19, June 9, September 1. See below for details;
- American Express cards are accepted by the Club without charges until October 1, 2014 for these journeys, which we quote for in GBP (£).
Fay says, “The Danube Express combines luxury rail travel with fascinating off-train excursions in parts of Europe that are less-visited, at a reasonable price.”
About The Danube Express
The Danube Express only carries 50 passengers, serving freshly prepared meals using traditional menus and served at a single sitting in the elegant Restaurant car.
The Lounge enables you to enjoy relaxing drinks, and whilst dinner is served, your cabin is transformed into a cosy sleeping area. Your steward is on hand to bring drinks to your cabin at any time. All cabins have air conditioning and are ensuite, with a shower.
So once on board, guests can relax in the knowledge that everything is taken care of – from champagne receptions and delicious regional cuisine to engaging guides and sightseeing at every stop.
Each newly reconstructed Deluxe sleeping car has just five spacious yet intimate en suite compartments offering every convenience and comfort so you may sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery as it rolls by. A subtle blend of modern technology, décor and fixtures create an ambience, evocative of a bygone era, when elegance and style were quintessential elements of travel.
Private bathrooms feature a shower with constant hot water, washbasin and WC. There is a heated towel rail, shaver socket (230v/110v) and a hairdryer. Fresh white towels and some toiletries are also provided. Full air-conditioning has individual temperature control and lighting can be adjusted spotlights and personal reading. Each compartment can be locked and a personal safe is provided. There are also power sockets for recharging batteries.
Co-ordinated fabrics complement wood panelled walls and brass fittings. Two comfortable armchairs provide daytime seating and a free-standing chair adds flexibility. Cupboards and a full-length wardrobe provide ample storage whilst the large picture window and full-length mirror enhance the spacious feel. A second window opens for that perfect photo opportunity or simply to let in some fresh air.
During dinner each evening, your living room is transformed into a cosy bedroom with two comfortable lower beds by your sleeping car attendant. A final touch, your Sleeping Car attendant is on hand to bring early morning tea or coffee and perhaps later, a glass of wine.
Settle in to the unhurried pace of life on board, amongst the wood panelled walls, softly toned décor, comfortable sofas and seating. A member of staff is on hand from mid-morning until the early hours to assist or serve you with welcome refreshment.
The warm and friendly atmosphere of the Lounge makes it the ideal place to rendezvous with new friends, perhaps to enjoy relaxed conversation over a coffee or pre-dinner drink. The Lounge also offers an inviting place to sit and unwind after the day’s programme, to sit and watch the ever-changing landscape drift by….
One of the highlights of a journey is the experience, ever rarer in today’s world, of dining well on a train in good company.
The elegant yet unpretentious Restaurant car offers a comfortable and informal atmosphere. Friendly, efficient waiters serve all meals in a single sitting and there is time to relax and enjoy the sense of occasion. Time to delight in the ever-changing scene beyond the window as cityscapes give way to countryside, as wide plains crossed by mighty rivers give way to mountains and fast running streams.
Tempting dishes and regional specialities with a Central European theme are freshly prepared and cooked on board by experienced chefs using local and seasonal ingredients. Menus are composed with care to ensure they appeal to all tastes. Special dietary requirements can be accommodated though should always be advised in advance.
Danube Express Itineraries
The Transylvanian, between Budapest and Istanbul
East from Budapest to Istanbul, via Lajosmize, Kecskemet, Sighişoara, Braşov, Veliko Turnovo, Kazanlak.
West from Istanbul to Budapest, via the same stops
Take in four countries in this four day/three night memorable land cruise travelling East from the banks of the Danube to the shores of the Bosphorus, encountering the stunning scenery and ancient architecture of Transylvania and rural Bulgaria along the way or vice versa.
Day 1 Budapest, Lajosmizse, Kecskemét. After a mid-morning champagne reception in the fabulous baroque multi-mirrored Royal Waiting Room at Nyugati station (designed by Emperor Josef II for his wife, Sissy), we board the Danube Express, settling in to enjoy lunch en route to Lajosmizse for a ”Puszta” horse show. As the train draws up the csikosok – Hungarian cowboys in theatrical blue robes – crack giant whips. Guests are transported by gypsy caravan to a ranch where palinka and pogacsa (salty bread) are served, whilst watching a thundering horse parade and daredevil racing, as the thrilling “Puszta” show demonstrates great horsemanship.
Later there is free time in Kecskemét, which features an art nouveau town hall in the main square, the Luther-Palace, and the Hungarian Museum of Photography. Back on board, enjoy a drink in the Lounge car as the train crosses the Great Hungarian Plain and dine as the journey to Transylvania continues.
Day 2 Sighişoara, Braşov. On awaking one is treated to a picturesque fairy tale town. This is Sighişoara, rumoured to be the birthplace of Dracula. One of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe, burgher houses and ornate churches line its streets.
Luncheon is served whilst the train travels to Braşov, for an afternoon tour of Bran Castle, known as Dracula’s Castle. This castle was the family home of Queen Marie of Romania, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria and the British-born consort of the Romanian King, from 1914-27. Whilst dining the train climbs over the Carpathian Mountains on the way to Bulgaria.
Day 3 Veliko Turnovo, Kazanlak. Arrive in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria’s ancient capital on the steep banks of the Yantra River. Here we visit the superbly preserved medieval Tsarevets Castle before rejoining the train to lunch, as we climb over the Shipka pass to Kazanlak, where the rose oil, grown in the rose valley, is prized worldwide. We visit the Valley of the Thracian Kings; Golyamata Kosmatka, the Tomb of the Thracian Tsar Sevt III, is perfectly intact and was discovered as recently as 2004. We dine as the Danube Express continues through scenic landscapes towards Turkey.
Day 4 Istanbul. Awake in Istanbul Sirkeci station and disembark after breakfast, to enjoy the heady atmosphere of this magical city with its mosques, churches and bazaars.
SPECIAL OFFER on dates marked with ** includes as above but with: Two nights bed and breakfast in the Hotel Astoria Budapest; three nights on board the Danube Express in twin accommodation with shower; two nights bed and breakfast in Istanbul (Hotel Yasmak Sultan); transfers
Dates and Prices 2014
Eastbound: 2014 - May 21**. June 11**. September 3**.
Westbound: 2014 - May 4,25. June 15. September 7.
£2,990 per person Deluxe Twin Compartment
£4,390 Sole Occupancy
The Central European Tour, Budapest to Prague
Budapest, Keszthely, Vienna, Bratislava, Cracow, Prague
Four days/three nights travelling 1000 miles from Hungary, into Austria, Slovakia, Poland and finishing in the Czech Republic. The romance of the scenery and the historical buildings and venues cannot fail to absorb you into this tour.
Day 1 Budapest. After a welcome reception in the beautiful Royal Lounge at Budapest Nyugati Station, your attendant will show you to your cabin on the train. Enjoy luncheon as the train skirts Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe. Arriving in Keszthely there is a tour of the baroque Festetics Palace, a beautiful building that resembles a French Chateau, sitting amongst pretty parterres. Once back on board dinner is served as the train travels overnight to Austria.
Day 2 Vienna. During breakfast the train travels through wonderful scenery as it arrives in Vienna. There is a morning tour that includes beautiful buildings such as – St Stephens Cathedral with its white stone and marvellous roof ornately patterned with 230,000 richly coloured glazed tiles; the Opera (where if one is lucky one may overhear some singing practice) and the Schönbrunn Palace, a magnificent Rocco building set in beautiful grounds, all of which illustrate the tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. Rejoin the train for lunch before arrival in Bratislava, the only national capital that borders two independent countries (Austria and Hungary). A sightseeing tour includes the Old Town and Bratislava Castle, rebuilt mostly in its former Theresian style in the 1950′s, after a fire in 1881 destroyed it. Dine on board as the train travels overnight to Poland.
Day 3 Cracow. This is a beautiful city, with its Old District that is home to about six thousand historic sites and more than two million works of art, and a rich variety of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural buildings. Following breakfast, there is a tour to the Wawel Castle, an architectural complex erected over many centuries atop a limestone outcrop on the left bank of the Vistula River, and the magnificent Renaissance Cloth Hall. Lunch in a local restaurant is followed by an afternoon visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mines – a World Heritage Site. Dine on board as the train travels overnight to the Czech Republic.
Day 4 Prague. After breakfast, disembark in Prague, a city of Romanesque and Art Nouveau buildings, where almost every street one enters, there are little gems.
Dates and Prices
2014 – May 10,31. June 21. September 13.
£2,990 per person Deluxe Twin Compartment
£4,390 Sole Occupancy
The Istanbul Tour, Istanbul to Prague
Istanbul to Prague, via Bulgaria, Transylvania, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and Poland, with three hotel nights in Budapest.
Imagine an iconic 10 day journey that takes one through Turkey to the Czech Republic, via six countries, across stunning landscapes, visiting fabulous historic cities. This tour includes everything that a romantic could wish for, and will leave one with a lasting impression of the history of these countries.
Day 1 Istanbul. Assemble at Istanbul Sirkeci station for a late afternoon departure. The Danube Express follows the Bosphorus as you settle in to your compartment. Later on enjoy a drink in the Lounge prior to dinner whilst the train travels to the Bulgarian border.
Day 2 Kazanlak & Veliko Turnovo. Breakfast is served as the train travels through the Bulgarian countryside, arriving at Kazanlak, where a tour includes the Shipka Memorial Church and a 4th Century BC Thracian tomb, that of Golyamata Kosmatka, the Tomb of the Thracian Tsar Sevt III, which is perfectly intact and was discovered as recently as 2004. During lunch, the train climbs the scenic Shipka pass. In Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria’s ancient capital, houses perch above the Yantra River. Stroll the narrow streets and visit the medieval strongholdof Tsarevets Castle. Dine as the train heads for Romania.
Day 3 Braşov & Sighişoara. Wake amidst the dramatic Carpathian Mountains and breakfast as we arrive in Braşov and visit Bran Castle, known as Dracular’s Castle. In its stunning mountain setting this castle was the family home of Queen Marie of Romania, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria and the British-born consort of the Romanian King, from 1914-27. Luncheon is served back on the train whilst passing through spectacular scenery on the way to medieval Sighişoara, rumoured birthplace of Dracula. As one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe, a walking tour meandering through the cobbled streets passing well-preserved buildings is a delight. Enjoy dinner en route to the Hungarian border.
Day 4 Kecskemté & Budapest. Continuing across the Northern Plain, arrive in Kecskemét with free time to explore an art nouveau town hall in the main square, the Luther-Palace, and the Hungarian Museum of Photography. Later, as the train draws up at Lajosmizse, the csikosok – Hungarian cowboys in theatrical blue robes – crack giant whips. Guests are transported by gypsy caravan to a ranch where palinka and pogacsa (salty bread) are served, whilst watching a thundering horse parade and daredevil racing as the thrilling “Puszta” show demonstrates great horsemanship. Lunch on the way to Budapest, arriving at Nyugati station mid- afternoon. Transfer for three nights at the centrally situated Hotel Astoria (4-star).
Day 5 and 6 Budapest. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore Budapest. Absorb the Gothic, Art Nouveau and Bauhaus buildings in Pest. Visit Heroes’ Square, the Cathedral or the Parliament building or cross the Danube to Buda for St Matthias Church and breathtaking views from Gellert Hill and Fisherman’s Bastion.
Day 7 Budapest to Vienna. Return to Budapest Nyugati station for a reception in the fabulous baroque multi-mirrored Royal Waiting Room (designed by Emperor Josef II for his wife, Sissy). We board the Danube Express for lunch as the train heads south west towards Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe. Arriving in Keszthely there is a tour of the baroque Festetics Palace, a beautiful building that resembles a French Chateau, sitting amongst pretty parterres. Back on board dinner is served as the train heads for Austria.
Day 8 Vienna and Bratislava. Breakfasting as one travels through the spectacular scenery of Austria, one arrives in Vienna for a tour of this dazzling city including Schönbruun Palace, a magnificent Rocco building set in beautiful grounds, all of which illustrate the tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. Rejoin the train for lunch as it travels through Slovakia, arriving in Bratislava, the only national capital that borders two independent countries (Austria and Hungary). A sightseeing tour includes the Old Town and the stunning Bratislava Castle that overlooks the Danube. Dinner is served back on the train as it travels through pretty mountain scenery towards the Polish border.
Day 9 Cracow and Wieliczka. As one takes breakfast the train arrives in Cracow, a beautiful city, with its Old District that is home to about six thousand historic sites and more than two million works of art, and a rich variety of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural buildings. There is a tour to the Wawel Castle, an architectural complex erected over many centuries atop a limestone outcrop on the left bank of the Vistula River, and the magnificent Renaissance Cloth Hall. Lunch in a local restaurant is followed by an afternoon visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mines – a World Heritage Site where artworks are sculptured in salt. During dinner the train travels towards the Czech Republic.
Day 10 Prague. After breakfast, disembark in Prague, a city of Romanesque and Art Nouveau buildings, where almost every street one enters, there are little gems.
Dates and Prices 2014
2014 - May 4,25. June 15. September 7.
£5,490 per person Deluxe Twin Compartment
£8,290 Sole Occupancy
Golden Eagle Danube Express – New for 2014
Jewels of Persia, between Budapest and Tehran
Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran
Budapest – Kecskemet – Sighişoara – Braşov – Veliko Turnovo – Kazanlak – Istanbul – Cappadocia – Lake Van – Akdamar Island – Van – Zanjan – Yazd – Isfahan – Shiraz – Persepolis – Tehran (15 days).
This tour can be taken in reverse.
Jewels of Persia is truly amazing. The Golden Eagle Danube Express is the first ever European private train to be permitted to enter into Iran. Travelling from Budapest on the banks of the Danube, via the shores of the Bosphorus and the city of Istanbul, into the ancient land of Persia is a unique journey that takes in destinations rarely experienced by the Western visitor.
This remarkable tour will appeal to those with a distinctive sense of adventure who seek extraordinary travel experiences that may not always follow the itinerary step-by-step, but will provide endless excitement throughout the journey.
Day 1 Budapest (Hungary). Arrivals day where one is met from the airport and transferred to the five-star Hilton Budapest Hotel (or similar). Enjoy a welcome reception dinner whilst you meeting your fellow travellers.
Day 1 Budapest and Kecskemét (Hungary). We enjoy a morning drinks reception in the impressive Royal Waiting Room at Budapest Nyugati station before boarding the Golden Eagle Danube Express. After settling into your cabin, enjoy lunch as the train heads (steam-hauled for the first 100km), to Lajosmizse for a spectacular ‘Puszta’ horse show, with a thundering horse parade and daredevil racing as the thrilling “Puszta” show demonstrates great horsemanship. Afterwards there is free time to explore Kecskemét, a fascinating city at the geographical centre of Hungary, with an art nouveau town hall in the main square, the Luther-Palace, and the Hungarian Museum of Photography. Back onboard, as the train continues across the Great Hungarian Plain, enjoy a pre-dinner drink in the Lounge Car and then dine as we head towards Transylvania.
Day 3 Braşov & Sighişoara (Romania). Today we arrive in Sighişoara for a walking tour of the town’s main highlights. Rumoured to be the birthplace of Dracula, it is one of the best-preserved fortified medieval towns in Europe. Burgher houses and ornate churches line its cobbled streets. We return onboard for lunch as we continue onto Braşov for a tour of Bran Castle. Popularly known as Dracula’s Castle, this beautiful 14th century building is situated amongst stunning mountain scenery. Back onboard later this evening, the train twists and turns as it climbs over the Carpathian Mountains and threads its way through the dramatic landscape with crystal clear mountain streams. Dinner is served as our train continues onto Bulgaria.
Day 4 Veliko Turnovo and Kazanlak (Bulgaria). We arrive after breakfast in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria’s ancient capital. Nestled in a magnificent mountain setting, the stone houses seem perched, one above the other, on the steep banks of the Yantra River. A tour includes the superbly preserved medieval Tsarevets Hill and Castle and there is free time to wander through the ancient city. We take lunch onboard during the climb over the Shipka Pass. Kazanlak, in the Valley of the Roses, produces rose oil prized by perfumers worldwide. Here we visit the Shipka Memorial Church and a Thracian tomb with vaulted brickwork dating back to the 4th century BC. Relax in the Lounge Car before dinner is served as our train continues through the scenic landscape, reaching the Turkish border late in the evening.
Days 5 & 6 Istanbul (Turkey). This morning we arrive into Istanbul. This fabled city that spans Asia and Europe deserves an extended stay so over the next two days you will be able to visit; the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (the Blue Mosque), a superb creation in the classical Ottoman style; the Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th century and one of the largest basilicas in the Christian world, which after the Ottoman conquest, was converted to a mosque and is today one of the most magnificent museums in the world; the Topkapi Palace, the crown jewel of the Ottoman Empire and the largest and oldest palace in the world and primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1853; the Grand Bazaar which is one of the world’s largest covered markets, with 58 streets and over 4,000 shops which have been in operation since the 14th century and is especially known for its jewellery, leather, pottery, spices and carpets.
Guests stay overnight at the five-star Four Seasons Sultanahmet (or similar) as the train re-positions to Derince for the next stage of the journey. Late afternoon on Day 6 after the conclusion of our city tour, we leave Istanbul and travel by bus to Derince to re-board the Golden Eagle Danube Express and continue our journey through Asian Turkey.
Engineering work in connection with the Bosphorus Tunnel project (on both sides of the Bosphorus) will involve the train stopping outside Istanbul with the onward journeys by coach when leaving and re-joining the train.
Days 7 & 8 Cappadocia (Turkey). Cappadocia is an area of Central Anatolia best known for its rocky landscape and is honeycombed with networks of ancient underground settlements and outstanding examples of Byzantine art. Erosion shaped the incredible landscape of the Göreme Valley, but thousands of years ago humans began carving an incredible chamber and tunnel complex into the soft rock. Beginning in the 4th century, an urbanised underground cultural landscape was created here. We continue our tour of Cappadocia the following morning before returning to the train for an afternoon onboard as we head to our next destination.
Day 9 Lake Van and Akdamar Island (Turkey). Today a six-hour crossing by train ferry takes us from Tatvan to Van, where we stop on Akdamar Island to walk to the stunning Akdamar Kilisesa or Church of the Holy Cross. The walls are adorned with Old Testament carvings telling familiar tales from the bible. Onward into Van we will navigate the old streets of the town and marvel at the beautiful silver and hanging kilims (woven carpets) made from natural dyes.
Day 10. Zanjan (Iran). We travel into Iran by night via the border crossing at Razi. Sultanieh is our first stop upon arrival in Zanjan, with its 13th century mausoleum of Oljeitu, the Il Khanid sultan. A visit to the old Rakhkt Shoor Khaneh and the Museum of the Mummified Salt Men concludes the day.
Day 11. Yazd (Iran). Yazd is thought to be one of the oldest cities in the world and the tour takes in the Zoroastrian Fire Temple, Amir Chakhmagh Square and the 14th century Friday Mosque, home to one of Persia’s finest mosaics. We re-board the train for lunch and continue to Isfahan where we enjoy a short tour of the famous bridges of Sioseh Pol and Khadjou. A local restaurant is the setting for our evening meal.
Day 12 Isfahan (Iran). This enchanting city, which served as Persia’s capital from 1598 to 1722, is 2,500 years old and one of the oldest in Iran. As a crossroad of international trade and diplomacy, Isfahan has a rich mix of languages, religions and customs
The city is famous for its silver filigree and metal work, array of great historical monuments, and its Life-Giving River, the Zayandeh-Rood, which has given the city its beauty. We visit the Chehel Sotoon Palace and the Vank Church in the Armenian Quarter. Following a traditional Iranian lunch we move on to Naghshe Jahan Square, which is the second largest man-made square in the world, where the Ali Qapou Palace and Shah and Sheikh Lutfullah Mosques can be found. Here, the time is yours to enjoy the huge square and pick up a bargain at the handicraft Bazaar of Qaisarieh.
Day 13 Shiraz and Persepolis (Iran). Shiraz has many strings to its bow: poetry, literature, wine, flowers and amazing gardens and fruit trees. A visit to the Qoran Gate, Hafez Tomb and the Vakil Citadel are the highlights of our morning tour. Following lunch onboard we continue onto Marvdast, for the home of Persepolis. Perhaps Iran’s most important archeological site, this ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire dates back to the 6th century. Even now, the ruins are extremely impressive. We also view the Necropolis (Naghshe Rustam) and the Naghshe Rajab.
Day 14 Tehran (Iran). After breakfast we reach our final destination and disembark the Golden Eagle Danube Express. We visit the Crown Jewels Museum in the Central Bank of Iran Building, with its vast array of crown jewels used by the Qajar and Pahlavid royalty. Following lunch we head to the Gulestan Palace with its renovated Versailles-inspired mirror-encrusted Marble Throne Hall used for the coronation of the last Shah. Most of the remaining brick and tile buildings date back to the 19th century Qajar dynasty. Guests stay overnight in the five-star Parsian Azadi Hotel (or similar).
Day 15 Tehran (Iran). Following breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for onward departures.
Golden Eagle Danube Express Dates and Prices 2014
Eastbound: October 14 – SOLD OUT
£13,995 per person Deluxe Twin Compartment. £20,695 Sole Occupancy
Westbound: October 27 – SOLD OUT
£14,695 per person Deluxe Twin Compartment. £21,995 Sole Occupancy
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