Perhaps the most famous train in the world, the Orient Express has been travelling for more than a century taking in some of Europe’s most intriguing cities. The train juxtaposes modern life with the past; it has had to adjust some of the traditional routes, but it still keeps its charm, its costume and its piano car. Perhaps the most common route to take now is the London-Paris-Venice route, which allows passengersa visit in each of these fascinating cities. Throughout this article we will map the journey that the infamous locomotive makes. London Passengers can board the British Pullman train in London Victoria and enjoy the countryside of the south of England as they journey through Kent towards the channel tunnel. Unlike many other trains running along this line, the Orient Express offers passengers a brunch with Bellini, as they settle down for their sojourn. Once through the tunnel, passengers join the Orient Express and travel on to Paris.
The train departs from its traditional station, the Gare de l’Est, in Paris and passengers are welcomed on board by butlers in traditional blue attire. Once on the locomotive, passengers can expect to be seated and enjoy a four course meal, cooked by some of the finest French chefs. The train arrives into Paris to pick up other passengers, before leaving promptly at 21.44. Once the meal has been savoured, the passengers are encouraged to retire to their cabins where they drift off to sleep contentedly. It is common for passengers to awaken to the sight of the Swiss Alps. The train passes through the West of France and into Switzerland. Once awake, breakfast is served in the passenger cabin, at whichever time suits you. The morning can be spent admiring the stunning scenery from the comfort of your own cabin, or alternatively you can enjoy the company of your fellow passengers in the bar carriage.
Later, the restaurant cabin serves another sumptuous meal, 3 courses this time, for lunch. Passengers often return to their cabins after this to sit back and let the food settle. Once through the Alpine scenery, the train then begins its trail to its final destination. Passing through the Italian Dolomite mountains provides another beautiful backdrop. Finally, an afternoon tea is served in the cabin and the train makes one last stop before Venice, in the beautiful city of Verona, the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Once the train has departed Verona, it quickly makes its way to the final stop, Venice Santa Lucia, just an hour and a half from fair Verona. Passengers alight in Venice Santa Lucia at 17.56, just in time to enjoy another meal when they arrive in the city of love. The station is truly a beautiful piece of architecture, and the last few minutes of the journey can be spent admiring the view between Venice Mestre and Santa Lucia. The train crosses a bridge whilst going to the island of Veni ce and it can feel almost as if you are floating on the water. It is a wonderful end to one of the finest luxury journeys on the planet.
How to get here
Venice competes with Paris and Rome to be the city of love, and love is certainly in the air in the month of February, making it the perfect winter break for those going with a partner. You can imagine cruising on a Gondola admiring the beautiful architecture the city has to offer. However, it is certainly possible to enjoy Venice without a partner. In addition to the Valentine’s Day crowds, this northern city is really buzzing in February, as it is also Carnival time. The 2014 carnival kicks off the day after Valentine’s Day and is one of the most famous carnivals in the world, alongside Rio de Janeiro. The Venetian Carnival is the perfect opportunity to discover the historical culture of the city, as there are plenty of music and events to enjoy, as well as the party at which everybody uses the traditional Venetian masks. Although temperatures can be chilly, Venice does not suffer from as harsh a winter as cities further North, such as Paris or London, meaning that it can be a nice escape to a slightly warmer climate. During the day Piazza San Marco, the central square, offers the opportunity to relax and people watch amongst some of the most beautiful buildings Europe has to offer. The city’s narrow streets beg to be discovered and one of the best hidden secrets are the coffee shops which offer small snacks alongside a glass of Prosecco, one of the region’s most famous products.
A trip down the canals is another great way to relax and marvel at this very unique city. There are even offers which take in a ride in a Gondola and dinner at a lavish restaurant.
HOW TO GET HERE
Daily flights from London Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo in Business Class:
British Airways £517 return.
For transport to-from the airport to your hotel please book a water taxi: http://www.venicewatertaxi.com/
WHERE TO STAY
Some of Venice best hotels:
The beautiful and luxurius Hotel Danieli: http://www.danielihotelvenice.com/
The recently restored Gritti Palace: http://www.thegrittipalace.com/
The refined sophistication of the Metropole Hotel: http://www.hotelmetropole.com/