The Orient Express to Venice Trip was a bucket list treat that I had almost never believed would materialise! But there Paul and I stood at Victoria station having checked in at the exclusive Belmond British Pulman booth. Our steward showed us to our seat and served a Bellini as we prepared to travel through the Kentish country side enjoying our delicious breakfast scrambled egg and smoked salmon.
We disembarked the Pulman train to the accompaniment of a jazz band – a lovely touch. We crossed the Chanel by ferry and met some very interesting people….retired CEO of a big bank and his wife who collected classic cars. We then boarded the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express after being greeted by the team. Our Butler greeted us and we settled into our cabin (which had no toilet or bathroom – had to walk to end of carriage for toilet only!!!). It is fairly small with limited space for luggage but very ornate and you really do feel as though you have stepped back in time to a bygone era.
Our personal butler was at our beck and call. We were provided with a welcome pack and vanity case containing various lotins and potions – presumably to keep us smelling fresh as we would not be able to take a shower for the duration of the trip! He also gave us a complimentary bottle of champagne and two crystal champagne glasses in celebration of our wedding anniversary. Each carriage is named – our was called Perseus. Perseus was reserved for Royalty, visiting Heads of State and used in Winston Churchill’s funeral train in 1965 – we were very pleased to be travelling in the top end carriage! The mosaic on the toilet floor was exquisite.
The scenery was truly spectacular. We had decided to dress for dinner and were pleased to see that all other guests had made the same effort. We headed over to the Piano Bar first for a cocktail (not cheap at £35 for one Pisco Sour!!). The ambiance was great and it was soon buzzing as the pianist was very talented. The waiter was an expert at mixing cocktails and very entertaining to watch.
We were then guided to the dining carriage by our waiter. As it was our anniversary we had requested a table to ourselves. We were given another complimentary bottle of champagne. The food was quite simply outstanding. At then end of the meal our waiter surprised us with an anniversary cake. A wonderful evening.
It had been a wonderful evening. We headed to our carriage and fell fast asleep to the rhythmic sounds of the train track. We deliberately woke up early so that we would be awake for the spectacular scenery as we passed through the mountains. We enjoyed yet another bottle of champagne with our breakfast before arriving at our destination: Venice. This is an expensive trip however, in our opinion it was worth every penny as the service, the food and the atmosphere was absolutely wonderful and the perfect setting for our 20th wedding anniversary. Just do it! We took a water taxi to our hotel … but the weekend in Venice is another story …