After departing Zegreb, the Orient Express carrying James Bond and Tatiana Romanova thundered on.
They hammered into the mountains of Slovenia where the apple trees and the chalets were almost Austrian. The train labored its way through Ljubliana. The girl awoke. They had a breakfast of fried eggs and hard brown bread with coffee that was mostly chicory.
It’s unclear whether they actually stop at the station. They have that breakfast in the restaurant car.
The station was built in 1848 and has served as the principal railway station since.
After passing through Vincovci and Brod, the Orient Express carrying James Bond and Tatiana Romanova came to the ugly sprawl of Zegreb.
Zagreb Glavni kolodvor (Or Zagreb main station) is the largest station in Croatia. It has been in service since 1892.
As they pull through the station:
The train came to a stop between lines of rusting locomotives captured from the Germans and still standing forlornly amongst the grass and weeds on the sidings. Bond read the plate on one of them – BERLINER MASCHINENBAU GMBH – as they slid out through the iron cemetery. Its long black barrel had been raked with machine gun bullets.
BERLINER MASCHINENBAU GMBH as you might imagine, was a German manufacturer of locomotives. (The GmbH basically means “company with limited liability.”)
From the information on this picture (again from the Jack Firns LIFE collection) this is apparently one of those captured locomotives sitting at Zagreb station in 1950. (NOTE: See comment below.)You can see the station in the background.
Bond then thinks “nostalgically and unreasonably” about that war compared to the war he is currently fighting.
After Tempo leaves them at Belgrade, James Bond and Tatiana Romanova are back on the Orient Express. At nine o’clock the train pulls “out on its all-night run down the valley of the Sava.”
Bond examines the passports of the new passengers of the train, and then settles in “for another night with Tatiana’s head on his lap.”
That night, “Vincovci came and Brod and then, against a flaming dawn, the ugly sprawl of Zagreb.”
The stations of Vinkovci (note the “k’) and Brod (Slavonski Brod – which actually translates as “Liverpool”) were pass-throughs on the route of the Orient Express. Any stops during the overnight run would likely have been very brief.
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.
After departing Sirkeci the night before, James Bond, Darko Kerim and Tatiana Romanova arrive at the last station in Turkey before entering Greece. Fleming writes that the train stops with a “sigh of hydraulic brakes” at Uzunköprü station. This was one of his few factual errors as he wrote in a letter that “I have also been severely reprimanded for having provided, in my last book, the Orient Express with hydraulic brakes instead of vacuum ones.”
As James Bond looks out at the station, this is what he sees.
It was a typical Balkan wayside station – a facade of dour buildings in over-pointed stone, a dusty expanse of platform, not raised, but level with the ground so that there was a long step down from the train, some chickens pecking about and a few drab officials standing idly, unshaven, not even trying to look important.
You can see how accurate Fleming’s description was in the picture above. At this station, two M.G.B. men are tossed off the train, the first one, unnamed after having his ticket swiped by Kerim, and the second, a Kurt Goldfarb is taken off after attempting to bribe the conductor after his ticket and passport could not be located. They are taken across the platform into the station through the door marked “Polis.”
James Bond and Tatiana Romanova agree to meet for the 9:00pm departure of the Orient Express, They would’ve met at Sirkeci station. Ian Fleming had been there, and clearly was not impressed.
The Orient Express was the only live train in the ugly, cheaply architectured burrow that is Istanbul’s main station. The trains on the other lines were engineless and unattended – waiting for tomorrow. Only Track No. 3 and its platform throbbed with the tragic poetry of departure.
Sirkeci station was in fact, a point of pride for all of Turkey. It had been designed by August Jachmund, a German trained Prussian architect who was heavily influenced by Ottoman architecture. He wanted to create a fusion of East and West, with Constantinople (Istanbul) being the gateway to the Orient. It was were the West ended and the East began. Sirkeci station also was the last stop on the route of the Orient Express.
Here are some further shots of the station, as it would’ve appeared to James Bond.
High above the guichet, near the ceiling of the station, the minute hand of the big illuminated clock jumped forward an inch and said ‘Nine’.
(A guichet is the pickup window.)
Fleming’s reference to the “cheaply architectured burrow” may have only referred to the platform, as the main terminal is impressive, inside and out.
The station still stands and there is a restaurant and a museum inside the old terminal.
For a fantastic look at the route of the Orient Express through Turkey in 1950, check this feature on the work by LIFE photographer Jack Birns. (including the previous two photos above)