It's that time of year again, when thoughts of getting away from the Canadian winter, even for a short while, start to itch on my mind. And scratch I must.
My thoughts have turned to trains. I enjoy train travel. It's nostalgic, romantic and even mysterious. Think Agatha Christie and the Orient Express. Sure, it's a slower way to get from one place to the other, but what's the hurry? The destination can wait. Getting there is the real voyage.
So, I've come up with a list of some of the world's most opulent train voyages, which are now on my bucket list:
The Rocky Mountaineer
|photo via rockymountaineer.com|
This one is at the top of my list (what sort of Canadian would I be if it were not?!) Connecting Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, the Rocky Mountaineer takes guests through the majestic Canadian Rockies, visiting places like Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise. GoldLeaf service passengers enjoy the bi-level glass-domed car. Upstairs watch the breathtaking scenery of icy-green lakes, tall pine forests and majestic mountains go by. Downstairs, enjoy gourmet regional cuisine cooked onboard by internationally accomplished chefs. Menus feature local ingredients such as prime Alberta beef and wild Pacific salmon, accompanied by award-winning Okanagan wines. There are no overnight accommodations on this train. Guests are chauffeured to hotels for overnight, and returned the next day to continue their journey through some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes on the planet. They had me at "chauffeured."
|photo via belmond.com|
Undoubtedly, the most famous of all train routes, the original Orient Express ran between Paris and Istanbul. The Orient Express was known for its culinary excellence, romance and elegance. Today the Venice-Simplon Orient Express links three of the world’s most romantic cities, London, Paris and Venice. Vintage art deco cars from the 1920s and 30s have been restored to their original grandeur, providing the elegance of an age long gone.
The Blue Train
|photo via bluetrain.co.za|
This train connects Pretoria and Cape Town in South Africa. Providing a high level of luxury and hospitality since 1946, guests can expect outstanding service, a personal butler, opulent suites and exceptional cuisine. During the day, enjoy the outstanding panoramic views from your elegant suite. At night, that same suite is converted to a personal haven with goose down duvets and pillows. Each suite comes with its own personal full bathroom consisting of shower/bath along with marble floors, marble basin with gold fittings and heated floor for maximum comfort. In the dining car, superb signature dishes, made with the finest local ingredients, are served on fine china and delicate crystal.
|photo via maharajas-express-india.com|
In operation since 2010, the Maharajas’ Express route crisscrosses India, taking in most major areas. The train consists of 23 opulent coaches, catering to 88 passengers. Its plush facilities include a spa salon, fitness center, business center, WI-FI and air conditioning. There are two restaurants serving cuisine from around the world, including Indian, Chinese, and authentic Mewari cuisine. 24-hour valet service ensures guests’ needs are met around the clock. All of today’s modern conveniences have been dropped into recreated Maharajas carriages, offering guests the luxury and richness of yesteryear, with the expectations of today.
The Royal Scotsman
|photo via belmond.com|
Catering to just 36 guests, this train takes passengers through rugged shores, calm lochs and wide glens of the Scottish Highlands. It’s intimate and luxurious, with 5-star dining, wine pairing and superior service. Cabins have been designed to provide ultimate luxury with lower beds, quilted bed covers, private bathrooms, high quality toiletries and bathrobes. In the Observation Car, enjoy the vast changing scenery of the Highlands from the comfort of a sofa or armchair. Dining, offers regional specialties using local produce and served in the rich mahogany paneled dining cars. Expect sensational dishes, such as warm pigeon salad accompanied by blackcurrant dressing and sumptuous apple mouse. I'm in!
Stay tuned for Part Deux.