Sentimental Journey

Image for Joanne Robinson Joanne Robinson
Travel Specialist

My journey started at London's Victoria Station, or more specifically the plush Orient-Express Lounge. Simpler than checking in for your flight, turn up with your passport and have a cup of coffee while your bags are taken from you (to re-appear magically in your cabin on the VSOE in France) as you await the train's arrival.

The British Pullman is steeped in history, I was in the carriage called Cygnus; first designed as a first class parlour car in 1938, Cygnus's claim to fame was being the funeral train for Sir Winston Churchills funeral in 1965. Each carriage has its own story to tell and you can bet stories and secrets have been told in each of the plush carriages; designed with very comfortable arm chairs, ornate wood panelling, rich thick red curtains and small tables complete with desk lamp, and vsoe embossed champagne glasses, china dining sets and cutlery.

You either sleep like a baby on the train or keep waking to the outside noises and braking, when the train stops in each country to change its engine and driver, and sometime to pick up supplies; such as the croissant, bread, fruit and coffee ready for me when I woke. Just a push of the button next to my bed told my cabin host Massimo that I was awake and ready for breakfast, then another push of the button and he takes the empty tray away and transformed my bedroom back to the sofa bed and day room.

Then again you sit back and watch Switzerland pass by before the train stops just before midday at Innsbruck for an opportunity for a walk on the platform to stretch your legs and take more photos before lunch. I dined at L'Oriental with sea bream and scallops followed by a raspberry macaroon - the food here is of the highest standard, absolutely delicious, beautiful looking and amazing considering that 2 small kitchens are used for the 3 restaurants. Then back to my cabin to watch the world go by, talk to my neighbours on the train, read a bit more and await afternoon tea. This part really does have the best scenery so it really is nice to sit back and watch the landscape change.

As we slowed down to arrive in Venice I realised I was intrigued by the VSOE and its history, which really doesn't disappoint as nearly everything on the train has an interesting history, and worried if I would get bored on the journey, which I really didn't, between the delicious meals, walking along the train and relaxing in my cabin I was truly relaxed and ready for my first visit to Venice.

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