I asked ChatGPT to help me plan a vacation. Here’s what happened next

Some people love travel planning.

But I am not one of those people.

So the idea that artificial intelligence chatbots, such as ChatGPT and Bing, can research travel destinations and create itineraries is intriguing.

But I’m skeptical too.

Do recommendations just scratch the surface — for example, suggesting that I see the Eiffel Tower in Paris? Or can they recommend lesser-known restaurants and handle specific hotel requests too?

The answer is: yes and no — at least for ChatGPT.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t test Bing. When I tried to access it, I was put on a waiting list. The website said I could “get ahead in the line” if I set Microsoft defaults on my computer and scanned a QR code to install the Bing app. I did both. I’m still waiting.

ChatGPT was easier. I went to the developer’s website, clicked on the word “ChatGPT,” registered for an account — and started chatting.

‘Can you help me plan a beach trip?’

“Of course!” replied ChatGPT. But first, I needed to tell it about my interests, budget and how long I planned to be away.

I’m looking for a week-long beach trip in mid-March to spend time with my family, with no set budget, I typed.

“Sounds like a wonderful idea!” it replied, before recommending Hawaii, the Caribbean — specifically the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic — Florida and Costa Rica, along with details about the weather and popular attractions for each.

Nice. But I live in Singapore, I said.

“I see!” it exclaimed. (ChatGPT loves exclamation points.) In that case, Bali, Indonesia; Langkawi, Malaysia; and Phuket and Krabi in Thailand were better choices.

ChatGPT is nothing if not apologetic.

Cost estimates for each hotel were more accurate. But ChatGPT couldn’t show photographs of the hotels or help book them — although it did provide ample instructions on how to do both.

By road or by rail?


ChatGPT can name airlines that connect cities, but it can’t give current flight information or help book flights.  

It wasn’t able to tell me the cheapest fare — or any fare — from London to New York this spring because it doesn’t “have access to real-time pricing information,” it said.

In fact, ChatGPT data ends at September 2021; it doesn’t “know” anything that’s happened since.

However, the bot could answer which month the London-to-New York route is usually the cheapest, which it said is “January and February, or during the shoulder season months of March and November.”

As for the best airline in the world, it said: “As an AI language model, I cannot have personal preferences or opinions.” But it went on to name the top five airlines named to Skytrax’s “World’s Top 100 Airlines” in 2021.

The list wasn’t correct.

The list provided by ChatGPT appears to be Skytrax’s airline ranking from 2019 instead.  

“Where should I eat?”

Specific questions

I had many more questions for ChatGPT, such as:

“How should I spend five days in South Africa?”
“Which chateaux accept visitors in Bordeaux?”
“If I only have one day in London, what should I do?”
“Which rides have the longest lines at Disney World?”

But before I could, my screen said “Access denied” alongside an “error code 1020” message.

This error may be caused by overloaded servers or by exceeding the daily limit, according to the tech website Stealth Optional. Either way, all of my previous chats were inaccessible, a huge negative for travelers in the middle of the planning process.

A new window didn’t fix the problem, but opening one in “incognito mode” did. Once in, I clicked on “Upgrade to Plus,” which showed that the free plan is available when demand is low, but for $20 per month, the “Plus plan” gives access to ChatGPT all the time, faster responses and priority to use new features.

With access again, I quickly asked about wait times on Disney World rides, a subject which I had spoken to luxury travel advisor Jonathan Alder of Jonathan’s Travels about last week. Alder lives close to the park and has lost count of how many times he’s visited, he said. Yet, only one of their answers — Epcot’s “Frozen Ever After” — overlapped.

ChatGPT mentioned that FastPass and Genie+ can reduce wait times at Disney World, which is partly right. The company phased out its “skip the line” virtual queue FastPass program when it introduced Genie+ in the fall of 2021.

The takeaway

ChatGPT is fast, chatty and feels like you’re interacting with a human. I found myself responding with unnecessary pleasantries — “Ok, sure” and “Thank you” — out of habit.

I could see how it could save travelers’ time, especially if they are looking for an overview or are at the early stages of planning.

But information will need to be current, of course — and bugs and error messages, which I faced several times in addition to the “1020” message mentioned above — will need to be fixed.

OpenAI states that the current ChatGPT version “is a free research preview.” It also says the system may “occasionally generate incorrect or misleading information” and that it’s “not intended to give advice.”

When I asked it about its travel planning abilities, it said it “can assist with many aspects of travel planning” but that it may not be able to “provide personalized advice based on your unique circumstances.”

My verdict: Travel agents’ jobs are secure for the time being.

Source link

#asked #ChatGPT #plan #vacation #Heres #happened

From Ancient Egypt to Gainsbourg and Picasso: The Paris exhibits to see in 2023

Issued on:

Paris is gearing up for a new year of must-see exhibits, from a rare chance to view the sarcophagus of Pharaoh Ramesses II to a Harry Potter “experience” or a deep dive into rival Impressionists Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas.

The Pablo Picasso museum will mark 50 years since the artist’s death while the Centre Pompidou will explore the literary influences that inspired Serge Gainsbourg’s music. Many of the exhibits this year are immersive experiences, as venues look for new and creative ways to approach the classics.

Serge Gainsbourg – Le mot exact (The perfect word)


French singer and composer Serge Gainsbourg and his English companion Jane Birkin, taken on January 21, 1969. AFP


The legendary French songwriter’s relationship to literature is explored in this exhibition at the Pompidou Centre’s public library. For the first time, manuscripts from Gainsbourg’s home on rue de Verneuil in Paris will be shown alongside books from his personal collection. Gainsbourg, who wrote more than 500 songs throughout his career, is considered one of France’s great wordsmiths and melodists, with lyrics that were deeply influenced by literature and poetry.

Serge Gainsbourg – Le mot exact at the Centre Pompidou runs from January 25 – May 8.

Zanele Muholi

A photgraph by South African artist Zanele Muholi, named Bester V, Mayotte, provided by the Maison Européenne de la Photographie press pack.
A photgraph by South African artist Zanele Muholi, named Bester V, Mayotte, provided by the Maison Européenne de la Photographie press pack. © Zanele Muholi

More than 200 photographs, videos, installations and archive materials will go on display in the first-ever French retrospective on internationally recognised South African photographer Zanele Muholi. Many of Muholi’s subjects have experienced discrimination, and the artist’s work is inseparable from their activism for the Black LGBTQIA+ community. Muholi emphasises individuality, beauty and humour in striking portraits that challenge stereotypes.

Zanele Muholi at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie runs from February 1 – May 21.

Chagall, Paris – New York

Marc Chagall’s paintings are set to come to life in this digital exhibition that blends projections, animation, music and narration. The immersive experience will explore the Russian artist’s relationship with two cities that profoundly influenced his life and art: Paris, the city where he chose to live, and New York, where the Russian Jewish artist spent seven years in exile from occupied France during World War II.

Chagall, Paris – New York at the Atelier des Lumières runs from February 17 – January 7, 2024.

Picasso Celebration, the collection takes on colour


Spanish artist Pablo Picasso is pictured at his home and studio in Mougins, southern France, on October 13, 1971.
Spanish artist Pablo Picasso is pictured at his home and studio in Mougins, southern France, on October 13, 1971. © Ralph Gatti, AFT


To mark 50 years since Pablo Picasso’s death, his namesake museum in Paris has invited British designer Paul Smith to oversee a unique exhibition showcasing the museum’s permanent collection in a new light. With a focus on colour, visitors can expect to see a fresh take on well-known masterpieces from one of the 20th century’s most daring and prolific artists.

Picasso Celebration, the collection takes on colour at the Musée National Picasso-Paris runs from March 7 – August 27.

Eternel Mucha

An artwork by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha who is known for pioneering the art nouveau style in the late 1800s.
An artwork by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha who is known for pioneering the art nouveau style in the late 1800s. © Grand Palais Immersif Press Pack

The stylised illustrations of Alphonse Mucha have come to define Art Nouveau and Paris’s Belle Époque period. The Czech artist was living in the French capital working as a poster desiger as he developed his signature style, celebrating natural forms and female beauty. This immersive exhibition will cover Mucha’s own story, his best-known works and his enduring influence.

Eternel Mucha at the Grand Palais Immersif runs from March 22 – November 5.

Manet / Degas


People wait outside Paris's Musée d'Orsay on Wednesday December 2,  2009.
People wait outside Paris’s Musée d’Orsay on Wednesday December 2, 2009. © Remy de la Mauviniere, AP


Contemporaries, friends and rivals Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas revolutionised painting in the late 1860s to 1880s by depicting daily life at cafes, theatres and racecourses. Although they had much in common, including an undeniable influence on the Impressionist movement, this exhibition explores how their differences in temperament and style impacted their creative work and careers.

Manet / Degas at the Musée d’Orsay runs from March 28 – July 23.

Basquait x Warhol, A quatre mains (With four hands)

Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat sit together in front of a painting.
Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat sit together in front of a painting. © Fondation Louis Vuitton Press Pack

Following on from its 2018 solo exhibition dedicated to American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Louis Vuitton Foundation has dedicated a second exhibition to his collaboration with pop artist Andy Warhol. The pair worked on 160 canvasses together in the 1980s, marrying their disparate artistic styles and creative perspectives. Individual works by each artist will also be on display alongside others representing the downtown New York art scene of the era, including Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer and Michael Halsband.

Basquait x Warhol, A quatre mains at the Fondation Louis Vuitton runs from April 5 – August 28.

Ramsès et l’or des pharons (Ramesses and the Pharoahs’ gold)

The star attraction of this exhibition at Parc de la Villette is the chance to see the sarcophagus of Ramesses II himself, loaned to France by the Egyptian government. Often regarded as the greatest pharaoh of his era, Egyptian art and culture flourished under his rule as he dedicated his reign to building cities, temples and monuments, many of which are still standing. Ancient Egyptian jewellery, masks and artefacts from inside tombs dating back more than 3,000 years will also be on display.

Ramsès et l’or des pharons at the Grand Halle de la Villette runs from April 7 – September 6.

Harry Potter, L’Exposition

Visitors explore a movie set inside Harry Potter: The Exhibition.
Visitors explore a movie set inside Harry Potter: The Exhibition. © S. Ramones, Harry Potter The Exhibition

Harry Potter: The Exhibition will open its doors in Paris this April after showing in the United States and Asia. The immersive experience is set to bring the Potterverse to life with the chance to explore stunning sets from the movies, get sorted into a Hogwarts house, and see famous props and costumes up close. A must for fans of the books and movies.

Harry Potter, L’Exposition at Paris Exo Porte de Versailles runs from April 21.

Treasures of Notre-Dame at the Louvre


Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.
Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. © FRANCE 24


In autumn the Louvre will host some of the invaluable treasures that survived the 2019 Notre-Dame fire. Currently closed to the public while under reconstruction, this exhibition is a unique opportunity to see artefacts including paintings, manuscripts and engravings that reveal the history of the famous cathedral.

Le Trésor de Notre-Dame at the Musée du Louvre runs from October 19 – February 19, 2024. (Note: No official link yet available

Source link

#Ancient #Egypt #Gainsbourg #Picasso #Paris #exhibits

Doping scandal surrounding Peter Bol gives him ‘no chance’ of running well at Paris Olympics, coach says

Lawyers and coaches of Olympian Peter Bol fear the fight to clear his name has all but ruled out his chances of competing well at the Paris Games next year.

The 800m runner, who finished fourth at the Tokyo Games, could be exonerated from allegedly taking the banned substance EPO as early as March — that is if his B sample, to be analysed next month, comes back negative.

At least that is the hope of his US-based lawyer, Paul Greene.

“If the B sample does not confirm the A sample, then the case will be over,” he said.

“And that is why I asked them (the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, or ASADA) to not announce this publicly at this point.”

But news of the failed out-of-competition drug test, taken last October, was made public on January 20.

Source link

#Doping #scandal #surrounding #Peter #Bol #chance #running #Paris #Olympics #coach

Volunteers plant mini-forests in Paris to slow climate change, tackle heatwaves

French volunteers are using a pioneering Japanese tree-planting method to create pocket forests in Paris in the hope they will slow climate change, create biodiversity hotspots and tackle the growing number of heatwaves in the capital.

On a damp Saturday afternoon in a southern suburb of Paris, a young boy of 9 wields a spade to plant a sapling on an abandoned strip of land.

He isn’t that much taller than the young tree he is planting. The afternoon rain has churned the ground beneath him into mud. He casts his spade aside and clears the clay earth with his hands.

Along with his proud grandmother, and his fellow volunteers, he’s immersed in planting a mini-forest, also known as a pocket forest, besides a busy motorway in the neighbourhood of Chevilly-Larue, 9.3 kilometres south of central Paris.

French non-profit Boomforest has organised a tree-planting initiative, drawing a dozen volunteers of all ages, clad in beanies and boots as they brave the cold and rain.

Grazia Valla, 79, a former journalist, said she “jumped at the chance to do something concrete” about climate change and show her grandson how to plant trees.

“He loves going to the community vegetable garden,” she said, casting an affectionate look in his direction. “Whenever I look after him, he’s always clamouring to go there.”

“Not every child has the chance to see how vegetables grow and taste them,” she said, applauding the initiative. “We are very interested in everything to do with nature.”

Maxim Timothée, 31, was happy to be outdoors and was motivated by the simple, symbolic act of planting a tree.

“It does feel really special to plant a tree,” he said, taking a brief pause from cutting into the damp clay. “It’s not just an object. I feel connected to the life of this tree. I want to protect it. I planted it.”

Pocket forests are popping up all over France in the hope they will tackle climate change and create biodiversity hotspots. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

Despite the drab weather, Timothée said it felt good to be taking action, rather than just sitting at home ruminating on the problems of climate change and the sharp decline in biodiversity.

The Miyawaki method

Mini-forests were first developed in the 1970s by the Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, who studied the relics of centuries-old forests growing around sacred temples and shrines.

Miyawaki found they were not only thriving without human intervention – they were richer and more resilient than more recently planted forests.

In his study of ancient primary forests, Miyawaki claimed that densely planted indigenous species, grown in carefully prepared soil at four different heights to provide multiple layers of coverage, grew up to 10 times faster and captured more carbon than standard managed forests.

Miyawaki went on to monitor the planting of more than 1,500 forests worldwide, claiming that a forest as small as 100 square metres could be home to exceptional levels of biodiversity.

Advocates of Miyawaki forests have adapted his methods and transported them around the world as cities look to curb the effects of climate change, restore degraded land, create biodiversity hotspots and sequester greater amounts of carbon.

Forests the size of tennis courts have been planted in Beirut, in cities in Asia, all over India, and increasingly through Europe.

Paris planted its first mini-forest on the northern edge of the city ringroad at the Porte de Montreuil in March 2018 with Boomforest’s grant from the French capital’s participatory budget. 

“Ninety-five percent of the trees planted there have survived,” says Guillaume Dozier, 33, a regular Boomforest volunteer, as he carried compost in a wheelbarrow to mulch the soil around the newly planted saplings.

Saplings are planted closely together in keeping with the tree-planting method pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. Volunteers with the French non-profit Boomforest plant a mini-forest by a motorway in Chevilly Larue.
Saplings are planted closely together in keeping with the tree-planting method pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. Volunteers with the French non-profit Boomforest plant a mini-forest by a motorway in Chevilly Larue. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

“The trees have now grown to a height of nearly four to five metres,” he reports with delight, adding that biodiversity in the mini-forest is now thriving.

“Every time we go there we notice more and more insects and birds that weren’t there before,” Dozier says, explaining that they were setting up a programme to monitor the species gathering there.

Motorways are “an extremely hostile environment” for birds and insects, says Dozier over the roar of traffic, explaining that Val de Marne authorities had given them the land by the side of the road to plant the new forest.

By recreating the same richness and density of a wild forest, the new trees will provide shelter for hundreds of small mammals, insects and birds, Dozier continues.

Unlike artificial forests planted for timber production, where the trees are laid out in neat lines and planted 10 metres apart, trees in Miyawaki forests are planted closely together.

As many as three trees per square metre were being planted at random by the side of the motorway, with the slender young saplings clustered closely together.  

Planting a single tree has been shown to have the same cooling effect as 10 air conditioners. But trees are social and fare much better when planted in the company of fellow trees, explains Dozier.

“They’ll give each other shade, and they’ll be able to exchange water, nutrients and information. If one of them is under attack, they’ll be able to warn the others. For example, they’ll make their leaves bitter to make them less edible for the attacker,” he says. 

Volunteers on January 14, 2023 hope that the mini-forest will help slow the effects of climate change.
Volunteers on January 14, 2023 hope that the mini-forest will help slow the effects of climate change. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24


All of the saplings are local French species. By local, the City of Paris defines French indigenous plants as those in the region before AD 1500, Hannah Lewis explains in her book, “Mini-Forest Revolution: Using the Miyawaki method to rewild the world”. But the Boomforest team carried out additional research to ensure their trees and shrubs were the most locally adapted species, and would cohabit well.

Oaks, ashes, beeches and willows are planted in the centre, while shrubs such as hazel, holly and charcoal are planted around the edges. Just 15 different species of plants were planted that weekend but as many as 31 local trees and shrubs have been planted at Boomforest’s other projects.

Pocket forests in Paris

Proponents of pocket forests also hope they can make a city as dense as Paris more habitable in the heat.

In the summer of 2022, Paris sweltered in three successive heatwaves over a total of 33 days, and temperatures in the French capital hit near-record highs of 40 degrees Celsius.

The lack of trees, and the shade and quiet they provide – Paris has about 9% tree coverage – was conspicuous as the city became a furnace.

Parisians wilted in the city’s paved streets as the asphalt, concrete and metal from buildings soaked up the baking heat and beamed it back out again.

Paris City Hall has vowed to plant 170,000 trees in the French capital by 2026. But their felling of 76 ancient plane trees in April last year, to make way for garden spaces, sparked the wrath of environmentalists including Aux Arbres Citoyens and the GNSA, groups that fight against tree felling.

Green activists also say that newly planted saplings are no competition for the cover provided by a decades-old tree, and that young trees are particularly vulnerable to drought.

Eliziame Siqueira said her concern about climate change had sparked her to take concrete action and join the tree-planting initiative on January 14, 2023.
Eliziame Siqueira said her concern about climate change had sparked her to take concrete action and join the tree-planting initiative on January 14, 2023. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

Critics of Miyawaki-style forests add that mini-forests are expensive to plant and that the science behind planting them in Europe is not sufficiently robust. A 2010 study of a mini-forest in Sardinia, one of the rare studies on mini-forests in Europe, put the tree mortality rate after 12 years at between 61 and 84 percent.

Despite the Paris authorities’ seeming enthusiasm for planting trees, Dozier conceded it was hard to find space in the city centre for them.

“Paris is a bit of a museum,” he said wryly, adding that mini-forests have only been planted at the gates of the city, at La Porte Maillot and La Porte des Lilas.

He hopes one day they will have a chance to plant a mini-forest in the heart of Paris, adding that they were adapting their tree-planting methods and learning all the time. He also hopes that others will decide to plant their own pocket forests, and that those feeling anxious about climate change will be encouraged to take action. Downloadable step-by-step instructions for forest planting are outlined at J’agis je plante (I act, I plant), on the Boomforest website, and other mini-forest groups in France such as MiniBigForest and Toulouse in Transition.

By late afternoon, the rain had grown heavier. But the volunteers’ enthusiasm showed no sign of waning. Nearly half of the 250 square metres they wanted to reforest that weekend had been dug and laid with saplings. When Boomforest’s budget allows, they hope to return to plant more on the 800 square metres total they have been allocated.

Over the next few months, in the spring and then the autumn, Boomforest’s regular volunteers will return to the newly planted forest to remove any weeds that might compete with the young trees and monitor their progress.

In just three years, the new forest will be autonomous. In 10 years’ time Boomforest hopes it will have the appearance of a 100-year-old natural forest.  

Valla hopes that her grandson will return to the forest in the spring, and in many years to come.

“I hope he’ll come here to walk around and say, ‘Hey, I really did something here’.”

Volunteers braved the cold and rain to plant saplings on 250 square metres of land given to them by Val de Marne authorities, on January 14, 2023.
Volunteers braved the cold and rain to plant saplings on 250 square metres of land given to them by Val de Marne authorities, on January 14, 2023. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

Source link

#Volunteers #plant #miniforests #Paris #slow #climate #change #tackle #heatwaves

Two companies have luxury trains called the ‘Orient Express.’ Here are the differences

The “Orient Express” has been called the “king of trains” and the “train of kings.”

Royalty, writers, actors and spies have ridden the original route between Paris and Istanbul, which started in the late 19th century.

Author Agatha Christie described the Orient Express as “the train of my dreams.” She set a bestselling murder mystery novel on its carriages, and fictional spy James Bond rode it in the movie “From Russia With Love.”

Travelers might think of the Orient Express as a single luxurious train, but there have in fact been quite a few over the years, with many routes and owners.

Soon, people will be able to choose to take a ride on several trains using the Orient Express moniker, by two competing companies, the LVMH-owned luxury travel company Belmond and the French hospitality multinational Accor.

Both have original carriages which date to the late 1800s. But they differ in how they’re designed, where they travel and how long they’ve been in operation — one for decades and the other set to launch in 2024.

History behind the ‘Orient Express’

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express will launch eight new suites in June 2023.


A few years later, the train was renamed the Orient Express and began traveling to Istanbul, then known as Constantinople. Travelers flocked to the train’s modern technology and luxurious silver cutlery and silk sheets.

Soon, Nagelmackers’ firm started to build more upscale trains for other European routes, including one that ran through the then-new Simplon Tunnel, which connects Switzerland to Italy, as well as the “Arlberg-Orient-Express,” operating between Calais, France, and Budapest, Hungary.

By the 1970s, the original Orient Express trains had made their last journeys, and the carriages fell into disrepair.

But in the 1980s, two businessmen undertook separate endeavors to revive them.

James Sherwood, an American, spent a reported $31 million acquiring and restoring enough carriages to form the “Venice Simplon-Orient-Express,” now owned by Belmond. (To add to the confusion, Sherwood also added hotels to his travel group, calling them Orient-Express Hotels. He renamed the company to Belmond in 2014.)

Swiss tour operator Albert Glatt began a service between Zurich and Istanbul, known as the “Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express,” which is now owned by Accor.

The ‘Venice Simplon-Orient-Express’

The “Venice Simplon-Orient-Express” has been operating since 1982. The train is made of original restored carriages that Gary Franklin, vice president of Belmond’s trains and cruises, called “works of art.”

“This train comes imbued with so much history,” he said. “The carriages are beautiful.”

As for Accor’s plans to launch a train also called the Orient Express,” Franklin said, “We’re the ones that have been doing it for 40 years, and I think we take it as a huge compliment that people are … seeing how well we’re doing with that.”

A one-night trip on the “Venice Simplon-Orient-Express” starts from £2,920 ($3,292) per person.


Belmond has a one-off licensing deal to use the Orient Express name on its Venice Simplon train, Franklin confirmed, while Accor has the rights to the brand as a whole.

The “Venice Simplon-Orient-Express” will operate winter journeys for the first time this December, visiting Paris, Venice, Vienna and Florence, encouraging guests to visit the Christmas markets in those cities.

And next June, new suites are opening on the train, which come with private bathrooms, a steward, kimonos and slippers.

A one-night journey will cost from £5,500 ($6,135) per person in the new suites, which are one step below the train’s most luxurious category — the Grand Suites — which come with private dining, heated floors and “free-flowing” champagne, according to the website.

A suite on the “Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.”


Tickets for around half of the new suites have already been bought, and Grand Suites (about $9,600 per night) are almost sold out, Franklin said.

The ‘Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express’

A few years after Glatt put his train back on the rails, it was again left derelict.

Fast forward to 2015 and French rail company SNCF — which then owned the rights to the Orient Express name — commissioned researcher Arthur Mettetal to find the train.

“We had a beautiful brand, but no cars,” Guillaume de Saint Lager, now vice president of Orient Express at Accor, told CNBC. “We knew there was this complete train, but we didn’t know where it was.”

Using Google Maps and Google 3D, Mettetal located 17 of the original cars on the Poland-Belarus border.

Carriages from the “Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express,” found derelict on the Poland-Belarus border, are being restored by the French hotel group Accor.

Maxime d’Angeac | Martin Darzacq | Accor

The bar car on the “Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express” will feature a bar with a glass counter, a tribute to French designer Rene Lalique.

Maxime d’Angeac | Martin Darzacq | Accor

Much of the interior — including original marquetry, or decorated wood — was intact, said de Saint Lager.

A detailed restoration is now underway, with architect Maxime d’Angeac hired to design the interiors. His brief was to “have a kind of fantasy of what could be Art Deco,” d’Angeac told CNBC by phone. He said he had a significant collection of the train’s original drawings and models.

Original glass Lalique lamps, in the shape of a flower, will light the train’s corridors, while other original elements from the rediscovered train will also be incorporated, such as suitcase racks and door handles.

A corridor on the “Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express” features original glass Lalique flower lamps.

Maxime d’Angeac | Martin Darzacq | Accor

The bar car will feature call buttons for champagne and service, while the dining car will have a mirrored ceiling as well as a glass wall to the kitchen, so guests can see the chef.

Sleeping suites will feature leather walls, embroidered headboards and en suite marble bathrooms. De Saint Lager described it as a “cruise train,” where guests can alight at lesser-known places (routes and prices are yet to be announced).

Passengers will soon be able to stay at “Orient Express” hotels, too, the first of which will launch in Rome in 2024, according to Accor’s website.

The Orient Express ‘La Dolce Vita’

Accor has more plans to use the Orient Express name. It’s also developing six “La Dolce Vita” trains that will run through 14 regions in Italy as well as neighboring countries, with aims to have 10 Orient Express hotels by 2030.

A rendering of the “Orient Express La Dolce Vita,” which will connect Rome to cities like Paris, Istanbul and Split.

Dimorestudio | Accor

These trains will pay tribute to an era different from the Venice Simplon or the Nostalgie-Istanbul trains.

“La Dolce Vita” — which translates as “the sweet life” — refers to Federico Fellini’s 1960 movie, as well as to a sense of Italian glamour and pleasure. The trains are designed to embody “the Italian art of living and all its beautiful traditions,” according to an online post by interiors company Dimorestudio, which is working on the project.

The trains will have 18 suites, 12 deluxe cabins and an “honour suite.” Most will leave from Rome’s Termini station, where passengers will have access to a lounge before departure, and will travel around 16,000 kilometers (about 10,000 miles) of railway lines, with stops at lesser-known Italian destinations.

A rendering of a bedroom suite on the “Orient Express La Dolce Vita,” showing the train’s 1960s-style decor.

Dimorestudio | Accor

Along with the Orient Express La Minerva Hotel in Rome, Accor will also open the Orient Express Venice Hotel in 2024 in a restored palace. In addition, Accor has plans to launch an Orient Express hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Those trains are also set to be launched in 2024, according to a company representative.

— CNBC’s Monica Pitrelli contributed to this report.

Source link