A budget alternative to the Orient Express

An alternative train journey from Paris to Istanbul follows the route of the Orient Express, at a much less murderous price

The border guards were impassive men wearing black jackets, guns and surly expressions. It was the middle of the night and a cold, rain-laden wind was whipping the train, halted at a former outpost of the iron curtain.

It was classic crime thriller stuff – high wire fences, lights glowing dimly in a railway yard, the Bulgarian flag flying from a forbidding, communist-era building bristling with antennas.

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