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All Aboard the Orient Express

Our chat with Alexandra Ivanoff got Istanbul on our minds today. So we picked up Museyon’s Film+Travel guide to Europe for a little inspiration. Now we’re headed back to the Turkish capital in search of a little mystery — ‘Murder on the Orient Express‘ style.

Sidney Lumet’s 1974 take on Agatha Christie’s thriller places Sean Connery onboard the luxurious train from Paris to Istanbul. Along for the ride from the heart of Europe to the gateway to Asia are a cast of full of famous and infamous characters including Lauren Bacall, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York and Albert Finney.
And while the Express no longer exists, steaming into Istanbul by tain at daybreak is still the most poetic of entrances to this 1,500-year-old city, writes Pelin Turgut in “The Local Orient” chapter of Film+Travel. No matter how you  arrive, make sure to end up at the magnificient Sirkeci train station, the one-time terminus of the Express. At Sirkeci, you’ll want to see a Sema, a performance of music and dance by the so-called Whirling Dervishes meant as a dhikr, or remembrance of God. These twirling dancers are followers of the Mevlevi Order of Sufi Islam, and they gather at the station on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
The terminal makes a great starting point for any trip to Istanbul. Located in the ancient Eminönü district — once home to the walled city of Constantine — the neighborhood contains may of the city’s most famous landmarks, all easily accessible by the Sultanahmet metro station. There you’ll find the Blue Mosque (0212-458-0776), Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya Sq., Istanbul; 0212-522-1750) and Topkapı Palace (0212-512-0480).

Whirling Dervishes in Sirkeci Train Station by Larry Miller/Flickr

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