At this frontier station, James Bond receives the bad news about his friend, Darko Kerim.
From the account, it is difficult to say if they even disembarked from the train at this station, thought the beginning of Chapter 24 would seem to indicate that Kerim was taken off here, and Bond is reflecting and looking out at the crowds as they are at Belgrade – the next stop.
It’s difficult to say exactly. Belgrade is where they meet up with Stefan Trempo, and if Kerim had been taken along across the border to Belgrade it would seem that Trempo would’ve insisted on seeing him, but that is not indicated in the text.
For their last stop in Greece aboard the Orient Express, James Bond, Tatiana Romanova and Darko Kerim stop in the historic city of Thessaloniki.
They finished their dinner as the train pulled into the hideous modern junction of Thessaloniki.
Ian Fleming wrote From Russia With Love in 1956. At that time, the train would still have pulled into the “old” station at Thessaloniki. However, the “new” railway station had been under construction since the 1930’s, though it didn’t go into service until 1961.
Fleming likely saw the building in a state similar to this and was not pleased with the future.
From Thessaloniki, the Orient Express crossed the border into Yugoslavia, where tragedy hits.
As James Bond, Darko Kerim and Tatiana Romanova continue their passage aboard the Orient Express in From Russia With Love, they pass through these two stations.
The names of both stations are spelled differently than how Fleming wrote them. Pythion station marks the border between Turkey and Greece and is the only rail connection between the two countries. The station sits in Greece. Alexandroupolis (or Alexandroupoli) station is about 70 miles south (109km) south, following the Greek/Turkish border fairly closely.
Chapter 23 opens with
Hot coffee from the meagre little buffet at Pithion, (there would be no restaurant car until midday), a painless visit from the Greek customs and passport control, and then the berths were folded away as the train hurried south towards the Gulf of Enez at the head of the Aegean.
The station is similar in appearance to the Uzunköprü station and to the Alexandroupolis station (further below).
The Alexandroupolis station is described thusly:
They were still arguing when the train ground to a halt in the sun-baked, fly-swarming station of Alexandropolis. Bond opened the door into the corridor and the sun poured in across a pale mirrored sea that married, almost without horizon into a sky the colour of the Greek flag.
The threesome has lunch in the restaurant car and see the enemy agent, out on the platform, buying sandwiches and beer from a buffet on wheels.
It’s fun to see so many places described by Ian Fleming in his novels still standing today and looking very much like when he (and James Bond) saw them.