Fulfilling dreams on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
During the romantic ‘Golden Age’ of travel, rail journeys provided the most comfortable and sophisticated ways to traverse great distances. The epitome has to be the Venice Simplon-Orient Express, sipping champagne in the comfort of an exquisitely embroidered armchair, accompanied by the gentle chugging of a steam locomotive.
Ten years after Jules Verne whipped up the excitement and intrigue of travel with ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’, the Orient Express begun transporting passengers from Paris to Giugi in Romania.
Step forward to the 1920s, when travel was an art of opulence. World War I was over (the armistice papers were signed on this very train). The Orient Express now travelled to Italy and Istanbul. And, with the opportunity to look your finest and be seen amongst the finest of people, it was considered the very best way for the extravagant aristocrat to travel.
There are benefits to travelling the fastest route provided by the modern world, but to take the slower road turns the journey into a holiday highlight, even an indulgence, particularly if you’re aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient Express. As you travel through Europe you’re actually experiencing it. Fields turn into hills turn into great snow-capped mountains. Aqua rivers and prolific crop fields ripple before your eyes.
The old razzmatazz
Each carriage had been painstakingly restored, bringing back all the razzle-dazzle of the 1920s and 30s. When you step aboard, carriage masters in gold-piped jackets welcome you into a scene of highly polished mahogany, upholstery in rich naval blues and British racing greens. As per the rest of the train, your sumptuous cabin is a museum piece of timeless art deco detail, all handmade by top craftsmen.
It’s easy to imagine yourself as a character in a popular Agatha Christie plot or an old romance novel; and you’re relieved you adhered to the ‘no jeans, no shorts, no trainers’ dress code. While most of the journey is in smart casual attire, you can never be overdressed on board.
Savour every moment
The service is exceptional, with white-gloved stewards welcoming you inside and uniformed bartenders pouring the champagne. The very finest food is as local and seasonal as possible, with fresh ingredients brought on board along the way, like Brittany lobsters, for instance. Each course is presented with such precision you have to pause and admire the dish before enjoying a delectable bite. It’s not a meal to be rushed, but savoured with an expertly paired fine wine.
Once the last plate is removed, and the last drop of coffee has been sipped, the bar car offers a comfortable place to relax while the resident pianist plays sweet melodies. When you can no longer resist the need to sleep, a luxurious bed will complete your perfect day. Your steward had transformed your cabin some hours before, and your single, twin or double bed is ready for you to climb in for a surprisingly good night’s sleep.
19 years and still in awe
"I have worked on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express for 19 years and no day is ever the same. Our guests love to see the train pass through Europe's most iconic cities and we serve them truly incredible food on board. Most of our guests are travelling for special celebrations or milestones and it is very rewarding to be part of these life moments. We always go that bit further to surprise and delight our guests - whether that is with a glass of Champagne or a special treat in their cabins. Nothing is quite like seeing their faces when they see the train for the first time - dreams really do come true!" Bruno Janssens, Train Manager
Click here to take a look at Titan’s selection of dream-fulfilling journeys on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. How big will your grin be when you board?
Jenny’s passion for culture and wildlife has taken her across the world. Favourite experiences so far have included snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, sailing on the Ganges in Varanasi, hiking through Norway and spending many hours on safari in Kenya and India spotting a menagerie of wonderful creatures.
Jenny | About the author
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