The Art of Travel on the Blue Train

By Angeline Jaquin

While you may very well take a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, you also have an alternative: travel with class and elegance and treat yourself to a unique experience. Today, our daily life very often resembles a race against the clock: Imagine finally being able to take the time and relive the golden age of luxury train travel. Find the very essence of travel where the art of journeying is as important as the final destination. Plunge into the old-world charm of the legendary Blue Train which is to Southern Africa what the Orient Express is to Europe.

So this is a surprise; your man still doesn’t know anything about this trip. A couple of days’ vacation for the two of you, as the last time was so long ago. It is true that lately, because of your respective workloads, you feel as though you have been living apart from one another.

That day at dawn, a taxi will come to the hotel to pick you up and take you to the station. You enter the beautiful waiting room and only there, he understands. You area about to board the famous Blue Train, to experience this historic train as many heads of state and celebrities have before you. Butlers with white gloves whisk your luggage away before offering you coffee and canapés and impatience is now at its height. Seeing the look of disbelief on his face, you cannot help but smile out of satisfaction: you hit home.

8:30 am – On board

The stationmaster whistles for the train to leave the station. You settle in your private quarters, a suite with all the modern comforts and even a private bathroom with a bathtub. Your butler comes to you and brings you your first drink. You begin to relax and look at the changing landscape behind the panoramic windows, while sinking in your cozy seat.

10:30 am – Breakfast time

It is time for breakfast. You are dazzled by the lifestyle aboard this palace on rails: fresh flowers, refined tableware made of delicate china, silverware and crystal glasses. Fine dining at its best, featuring South African cuisine and wines. Really, it is the perfect place to reconnect, to finally take the time to relax, without obligations… at last. You already consider the 27 hours it will take for the train to cover the 1,600 km journey as a legitimately stolen break from the plain daily life where you have been caught for too long.

The afternoon runs just as perfectly. After a well-deserved nap, high tea is served, and you settle in the lounge car to enjoy a Margarita.

7:30pm – Dinner time

This exclusive trip takes an extra romantic turn at dinner time when, according to tradition, the guests dress up: jacket and tie for men and evening gowns for women. You struggle to remember the last time you two had dinner in such an environment. Your conversation has regained its natural state. Time stands still. The soft music in the dining car mixes with the clear sound of champagne flutes clinking against each other.

When you retreat to your suite, the butler converted what had been a comfortable lounge during the day into an opulent bedroom. You close the door behind him and notice that his suit has kept a bit of the aroma of the Cuban cigar he smoked after dinner. The soft lighting let the intense starlight flood the room. Tomorrow you will cross the mountains and arrive in Cape Town, the mother-city. Tomorrow. Meanwhile you are the only two people in the world.

The Blue Train runs between Cape Town and Pretoria (one way in both directions) and will open a new route to the Kruger National Park this year via Hoedspruit.

By Angeline Jaquin

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