|Venice Simplon Orient Express|
Leave the jeans behind, travellers are advised, for this very special trip of a lifetime. You don't actually have to wear a tiara, but if you did, no one would raise a well-groomed eyebrow.
"You cannot be over-dressed for the VSOE," advises the Venice-Simplon Orient-Express brochure. "Once murder featured on the Orient-Express - now it seems fashionistas are the victims.
At London's Victoria Station where we boarded a British Pullman carriage, connecting in Paris with the VSOE, there was Big Celebration excitement, with ladies hatted and dressed as for a day at the races. For these are romantic trains. The etched glass, panelled wood, a grand piano in the bar car, stewards and silver service create an air of opulence and a decadent whiff of grandeur.
The first Orient-Express train travelled from Paris to Istanbul in 1883, hence the name, and since then it has become synonymous with ultra-style and service. Knowing its history, it's easy to forgive the fact that the bathroom is at the end of the carriage and that there is heating, but no cooling in the cabins.
Dress for dinner (pearls and diamonds if you like) as the tables in the dining cars are laid with the finest china and crystal. Later, relax in the bar while a pianist provides live music.
All this while skimming through Europe in the style of the ruling classes of Europe, circa turn-of-the-century. Next morning you will breakfast beside the Alps and lunch in Italy, passing through seven countries in just over a day. What a truly grand way to travel.
Just don't forget your diamonds!
For details on all Orient-Express trains, (including the Eastern & Oriental Express from Singapore to Bangkok) and other transport as well as hotels: www.orient-express.com
VSOE reservations 1800 000 395.
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