Trains have and always will be a huge part of my life. Up until very recently my Dad was a train driver, spending forty three years on the railway with companies such as Eurostar, Great Western and Virgin West Coast. Sam knows how much I love trains (and planes…I really do take after my Dad!) and so was able to incorporate this into the extra special weekend back in May 2013, when he asked me to marry him.
Now I, along with millions of other people, have got quite a substantial bucket list. Hovering around in the top section of this bucket list, for an awful long time was to take a trip on the Orient Express. The amount of times Sam has had to pull my longing gaze away from the Orient Express carriages as the train stood majestically in Victoria station must run into double figures. The sight of the gleaming cream and mocha carriages, with curtains and crisp white linen draped tables is enough to set my luxury taste buds watering!
On this occasion however, I was not dragged past mentally kicking and screaming. Oh no. On this particular weekend, I opened my “surprise” envelope given to me by a nervous looking Sam; I sobbed with joy (much to his amusement)and we then headed to Victoria station once more.
If I am totally honest, the weekend in itself was incredible. Nothing like I had ever experienced before. I kept on thinking what on earth had I done to deserve such an amazing treat(the Saturday was spent in a posh hotel and then a luxury dinner cruise on the Thames with an obscene amount of courses and then dancing). It hadn’t really crossed my mind that Sam had other exciting intentions.
Walking onto the Orient Express was just like stepping inside a time machine. I half expected Poirot to shuffle past with his walking stick and bowler hat; or to glance round at the neighbouring armchair (yes, armchair!) to see Miss Marple sitting with her knitting, whilst deep in thought over some murderous plot. The attention to detail was just staggering. Personalised travel itineraries and exquisite menus, all presented on gold gilt paper were waiting for us at our table. I hadn’t been seated long when one of the waiters delivered a long stemmed rose – another surprise treat from Sam.
Our train was destined for Folkstone, where we would spend a little while by the sea (which included Sam getting down on one knee!), before returning back into London. Little did I know that I would be acquiring the title of fiancée for my return trip!
Everything about our engagement trip on the Orient Express was simply outstanding. The waiters were extremely attentive, and knew our names, which made the service much more personal. The quality of food and drink was superb. Lots of afternoon tea treats to sample, with quite possibly the best Bellinis I have ever tasted!
I know it really isn’t cost effective or sensible perhaps for all trains to have armchairs installed in them, but what a relief to sit in something so cosy. Proper cushions and without the need for uncomfortable personal space sharing with strangers made the atmosphere luxuriously relaxed.
The bathrooms were as equally decorative as the rest of the train. Beautiful mosaic floors and wooden features adorned the surprisingly spacious bathroom; there was just so much detail to look at and admire! If only train bathrooms today still had the same splendour!
During courses Sam and I had the chance to have a walk through the train and explore some of the other carriages. A couple of the carriages were set out in a different way, with compartments to sit a group of four.
I liked the fact that each carriage had a name; ours being called Audrey. During the trip there was also the opportunity to buy Pullman branded gifts, and as this was such a special occasion, Sam and I treated ourselves to one of the Orient Express photo frames. This still has pride of place on our mantelpiece, with our first official photo as fiancé and fiancée!
I really am hoping that at some point, probably when we are much older and retired, to travel again on the Orient Express. Ok, I am longing to travel again on the Orient Express. It would be absolutely incredible to try out the sleeper version. On the understanding of course, that if Poirot should happen to be on-board, it won’t be to solve a murder!