Istanbul, Turkey (September 24th 2006 ) – The Orient Express Bicycle Tour, a two-month, 8 country cross-continental bike adventure covering 4,000 kilometers from Paris to Istanbul, cycled into its final destination on Sunday 24th September.
It is the second long-distance bicycle tour to have been developed by the organizers of the epic 12,000-kilometer race/expedition across Africa – the Tour d’Afrique – and it has challenged and rewarded the 38 participants beyond all expectations.
Tears flowed as the cyclists crossed the finish line.
“I have learned so much from this experience” said Dianna O’Leary from Thunder Bay, Canada “and now know what I’d do differently the next time round.” she enthused, already planning her next cross-continental bike adventure.
“I made it! I can’t believe I made it.” said the hard working Kendy Madden from the USA.
It was in 1883 that the first Orient Express rail lines connecting Paris to Istanbul revolutionized transport and brought adventure and delight to tens of thousands of passengers. Crossing the many frontiers of a still-divided Europe, the train journey of nearly 4,000 kilometers was a genuine adventure and the subject of legend and fantasy.
In the same spirit of adventure, the Orient Express Bicycle Tour set off from Paris, the City of Lights, on July 30th 2006 alongside the famous “Gare de l’Est”, from where the legendary Orient Express trains departed on their eastward-bound odyssey. From there the tour traveled through France, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and finished two months later on September 24th in Istanbul, Turkey.
38 participants from Canada, Holland, Australia, Israel, the UK, New Zealand and South Africa, cycled the full distance. Ranging in age from the Tour’s bike mechanic, Piotr Tysarcyzk – 24, to Angus and Devona Juckes, 76 and 73 respectively, experiences were varied and diverse.
When Tour Leader, Shanny Hill, congratulated the feisty couple on their incredible achievement, their humble response was “Well, we guess we did OK.”
The Orient Express is arranged into 42 days of cycling and 15 days of rest in cities such as Vienna, Bratislava, and Bucharest; along with lesser-known pearls such as the Bulgarian town of Veliko Tarnovo and is the perfect choice for the cyclist who wants an initiation into the world of transcontinental cycling journeys.
From the French vineyards to the spas of Budapest and the spices of Turkish bazaars, the Orient Express Bicycle Tour is a sensory and cultural adventure of a lifetime, as it moves steadily eastward through old gothic and medieval cathedral towns to remote and traditional farming villages.
Of the many highlights of the Tour, traveling along The Danube Cycleway is pure cycling heaven. Completely separated from the noise and distraction of cars and trucks, this magnificent stretch of almost 1400km from the French-German border to Budapest boasts an elaborate range of tourism facilities.
The full Adventure Tour offers camping and basic accommodations the entire way while the full Comfort Tour offers 3 to 4 star hotels on rest days and elegant accommodations in Paris and Istanbul.
Sectional participants can also choose either option and select the part of the route best suited to their abilities, interests, and busy schedules. Cyclist are free to start and end anywhere along the route.