If the two of you believe that getting there is more than half the fun, perhaps a journey on the Orient-Express is for you. Although the company has changed its name to Belmond, these same luxe trains continue to weave through the most beautiful and romantic cities in Europe and afford passengers glimpses of how the good life is really lived, drawing you into the experience -- and then easing you into the next scene.
On these trains you'll encounter a cross-section of people from different backgrounds and nationalities. The mundane things one does aboard -- eating, chatting with others -- makes people open up and creates a special type of intimacy. Friendships that last for years begin on trains. Nick Varian, who served as VP and chief development officer of Orient-Express, recalls the O&E's colorful history:
"The earliest Orient-Express passengers were spies... courtesans... arms dealers... even the occasional murderer."
Tongue firmly in cheek, Varian vouches, "It's fair to say that the ethical character of our passengers has improved somewhat." Romantic train travel -- glamorous carriages, sumptuous cuisine, and personal service par excellence -- became available again several decades ago with relaunch of the opulent Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Initially traveling between London and Italy's canal city, the European train now includes passages to Paris, Verona, Budapest, and Vienna on its itinerary as well.
The Rolling Romance of Traveling Aboard Orient-Express
There is something both physically and emotionally soothing about spending time on an iconic overnight train. The Art Deco Orient-Express brings back a time when life was slower and gentler. Some say the gentle motion of the train is like being rocked to sleep in a cradle with the clickety-clack of the wheels like a lullaby.
Yet you'll want to remain awake for the views of the exquisite landscapes what whoosh past your window. Sip champagne or freshly brewed coffee as you take it all in. Meals are meant to be savored in plush dining cars furnished with sparkling crystal and fine china.
Liveried porters, waiters and other sharply appointed crew members attend to your needs and seem to anticipate them.
Europe's Other Belmond Luxury Trains
Couples can choose from other enchanting routes, including:
- Originating in London, the British Pullman winds through the English countryside, dazzling travelers with exquisite views (day and weekend sleeper excursions).
- Belmont Grand Hiberian - Ireland's first luxury rail experience departs from Dublin
- Belmont Northern Belle - travels the United Kingdom, with itineraries that include the historic cities of Bath and Edinburgh, Bristol and the Lake Country
- Departing from and returning to Edinburgh, the Belmont Royal Scotsman includes a visit to one of the oldest working distilleries and home to one of Scotland's most famous whiskies. And on your first morning, you may wake up and look out on fields of heather as far as the eye can see.
Beyond Europe: Where Orient-Express Trains Travel
Journeying beyond Europe, the expanded Orient-Express group today operates on three continents and includes other equally posh trains including:
- Southeast Asia's Eastern & Oriental Express carrries passengers between Singapore and Bangkok (2 nights, 41 hours)
- Named for an Andean explorer, Peru's Hiram Bingham climbs the country's highlands en route to Machu Picchu.
It's an impressive roster, considering that each train and experience was created anew, from the tracks up. All carry passengers across countries and continents in styles of a bygone era: The atmosphere on the Eastern & Oriental Express evokes British Colonial life of the 1920s; rattan chairs, linen suits, tea dances. Venice Simplon and British Pullman trains transport passengers in Art-Deco elegance.
Guests who purchase a Superior Cabin on the Eastern & Oriental Express between Bangkok and Singapore may receive one free night at The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok and another free night at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Singapore.
Any time you go, you'll find that it's easy to plan a journey on the E&O that includes stays in top hotels and off-train tour adventures. For information, price comparisons, and to book a journey, visit Belmond online.