The Orient Express, an iconic luxury train that used to ferry wealthy travellers from Paris to other parts of Europe in the 19th century, is making a pitstop in the city state – its first stop outside of France.
Titled Once Upon A Time on The Orient Express, the storied train, which has set off from Paris, will be stationed at the West Lawn of Gardens by the Bay in a 2,000-sqm space from December 2020 till June 2021. This exhibition, which details the history of the Orient Express – a symbol of opulence and timeless refinement – was first held in Paris in 2014. Here’s what you can look forward to when the train rolls into town.
1. Get up close with an actual locomotive
Built in France 158 years ago, a locomotive, along with an original 1930s sleeper car, will be shipped to Singapore. They will be restored to their former glory and replicate the days of ultra-luxurious railway travel. Once Upon A Time on The Orient Express curator Claude Mollard shares that the locomotive and the sleeper car will be housed within a custom-built infrastructure as special care needs to be taken in order to preserve and protect the artworks and displays, given the hot and humid climate in Singapore.
2. Relive the experience of days of yore
You get to teleport back to a bygone era and imagine the experience of travellers who have embarked on the Orient Express by standing on a reconstituted train platform. A replica Anatolia dining car will also be built where you can tuck into a meal by Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno or sip on a tipple while snapping a couple of Instagram-worthy shots. This car replica was built in 1925, with its luxurious interior decoration based on the drawings of the great British cabinetmaker Albert Dunn.
3. See hundreds of precious historical items
There will be over 300 artefacts, documents and interactive displays (some displayed in giant vintage trunks), including uniforms, posters, menus, crockery and suitcases (look out for the original Louis Vuitton from the golden days).
4. Watch informative clips
Learn more about the Orient Express’ history, life onboard the train and its scenic stopovers at places such as London, Venice, Istanbul, Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo, via documentaries, newsreels and film clips.
5. Indulge in an immersive experience
Take part in an escape room experience onboard, where you get to step into the shoes of the famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and solve a mystery, similar to what the Agatha Christie character did in the 1934 detective novel Murder on The Orient Express.
6. Learn about coffee
A special Orient Express Road Café will give visitors the chance to embark on a journey through coffee blends that were discovered and made famous by the many stops along the Orient Express route such as Paris, Venice, Vienna and Istanbul.
Public sales are already open, and tickets are available here. Adult tickets are going at S$25 each.
Please check the website for opening hours before visiting. Do also remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.
This story was initially published on 5 October 2020.