It’s like boarding a travelling time machine. A time machine a full quarter of a mile long. Seventeen gleaming carriages. Blue, snow white and gold, burnished to perfection. Shining like a perfectly polished diamond. As perfectly poised as the most graceful of swans.
It’s a nine hundred mile voyage across five countries, through some of the most stunning scenery that Europe can boast. The Dolomites. The Brenner Pass. Paris and the Eiffel Tower. And the sweet, sensual finale; that slow, graceful approach across Mestre, before finally arriving in the most beautiful city in the world.
It’s Agatha Christie and the ridiculously dapper Poirot. Spies and courtesans. Arms dealers, presidents and king’s messengers. Even the odd king or two.
It’s the Orient Express. After all, what else could it be?
It’s a sumptuous, five course, two hour dinner in a gently shuddering Art Nouveau railway carriage as you rumble sedately across the Swiss frontier. It’s breakfast coffee and croissants in your snug, wood panelled little cabin as the train romps purposefully across the springtime plains and meadows of alpine Austria.
The Orient Express takes you on two journeys at the same time; the aforementioned voyage across Europe either to or from Venice, and a trip back in time to the days when the ‘Grand Hotel on Wheels’ really was the way to swagger across the continent in effortless, elegant style. On the Orient Express, it still is.
There’s the knowledge that this is no hackneyed, Disney-esque style recreation. This is the real deal; the actual wagon-lits carriages from the 1920’s; updated, meticulously restored, and then buffed to cosmetic perfection. The entire train is like one shimmering, gleaming stage set. And every passenger is an actor with a role to play. There’s fun, style and drama at every table setting.
And, naturally, you cannot be overdressed…
It’s tuxedos and chocolate martinis. Ostrich feathers, outrageous pearls and opulent, art deco table lamps. The popping of champagne corks and the subtle, wondrous vibe of a tinkling Baby Grand as it drifts through a cloud of Chanel. It’s laughter at sunset as the train rumbles through the slowly darkening suburbs of Paris.
The Orient Express is a fancy dress party par excellence; the Ritz on wheels. A magical, gently shuddering wonderland, awash with a surfeit of snow white tableware and exquisite, shimmering crystal champagne goblets. And it is never, ever dull or mundane.
It is thirty-one hours of delicious frivolity and sophisticated indulgence. The adventure of a lifetime. A living, moving dream, writ large in lalique, lacquered panelling and exquisite marquetry.
It’s a celebration and a continuation. The good life defined and rededicated to a new age. Timeless elegance. The trip of a lifetime.
“En voiture, s’il vous plait, mesdames et messieurs….”