The adventure of a lifetime! London to Venice on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express!!!
We left from Victoria station in London and even before we boarded the train, we had a touch of olde worlde glamour with liveried staff service. I’d just seen Downton Abbey and my imagination was in overdrive!
We left Victoria on the Belmond British Pullman and were served a delicious 5 course brunch complete with Bellini. I confess that I did enjoy waving regally as we trundled through the stations in Kent. We were taken from the train on a superb coach …and more fizz… through the tunnel …not a mention of Brexit anywhere.
We picked up the real Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in Calais. The train itself comprises original rolling stock, although not the original engine, which is reflected in the gleaming brass and polished wood … and more fizz. A pre-dinner drink in the 3647 bar, again complete with liveried staff and nibbles started off a memorable evening. Although we had had a fair amount of food during the day, who could have resisted the food in front of us …. lobster and caviar (which personally I’m not fond of), fillet steak and sorbet all beautifully presented.
Then came the real fun part – during our temporary absence, our cabin steward had converted our sofa into bunk beds! Note this part is not for the faint hearted! There is really no room to manoeuvre in the small couchette cabins and involved a complicated dance routine before we got to bed! It was not the most comfortable night I have ever spent as there were lots of stops and starts – but for one night, what an experience!!
Continental breakfast was served in our cabins – after our steward had performed the reverse miracle of converting our bunk beds into a sofa again and we spent a very pleasant morning relaxing and watching the world go by – and then it was time for food again! And what a lunch – again the best of everything served beautifully – scallops and confit of duck and a pudding that looked as if it had been made from a frankfurter mould but was really a hazelnut parfait!!
Then the fun really began. The thingummyjig on the overhead wire became detached from the watchamacallit on the train and we stopped – abruptly! A rumour did circulate for a short while that we’d actually hit someone – but happily it was only a rumour. However, the upshot of this was that we were stuck for nearly 2 hours whilst we waited for a replacement engine to come from Milan! A light afternoon tea was served in our couchette . . . and then we were told that there would be further delays and that dinner would also be served – such a hardship! Sea bass and poached pears!
We arrived in our hotel in Venice very late on the Monday evening but everything was organised for us, from the water taxi to the hotel being advised of our late arrival. Our ‘proper’ cases arrived at some point during the night, but we were all too tired to do more than fall into our very comfortable beds!
Now for 4 days in Venice !!!…