When I was 19 and impressionable, I decided this was my travel holy trinity. I imagined I would take the QE2 from New York to Southhampton, hop on the Orient-Express whilst in Europe, then fly Concorde home.
Of course, I thought I would do this on my honeymoon, such a huge event it would be when I finally met the man I was going to marry. And then I met him, and he was enough. Our honeymoon was spent in relaxed Mexican luxury. It was perfect.
At 29, a friend working for British Airways got me a staff offer. For £982, I flew from New York to London on Concorde, and back in the smallest, saddest economy seat ever. Concorde felt like a rocket, shaking at such an incline. I sat next to a woman who was a few years older than me. She had never flown it before either, and we laughed the whole way. And ate and drank, visited the cockpit, and clutched our Smythson Concorde stationery as we deplaned.
Now I'm 39, and revisiting my travel agenda.
While the QE2 introduced me to the notion of sailing between New York and Southhampton, I'm all about the crossing, not the boat. I will happily take Queen Mary 2, which has exclusively done Cunard's transatlantic crossings since 2008. I'm not sure, though, if this trip should be done before the age of 59. And really, will I have the appropriate collection of evening gowns before that age?
This brings us to the Orient-Express. There is the train, and there is the route. On this one, I'm a purist. I want both, and it only goes once a year. (Needless to say, this year's trip sold out in something like five minutes.) But Paris to Istanbul, via Budapest, Bucharest and Bulgaria. Oh, boy.
If I was all about the train, then I'd for sure take travel the London-Venice route, which takes seven nights and goes through Krakow and Dresden. It includes four nights in hotels and three nights aboard the train in a cabin suite. Given the small quarters of a train by nature, I think the suite is a must. And breaking it up with hotel stays no doubt keeps the novelty of travelling on the train a bit fresher.
So what do you do on the train? Visit the bar car, eat in the dining car. Put your feet up, and watch the countryside roll by. Think back on the previous 49 years (since this seems the appropriate age to go), and how apparently charmed your life has been thus far.
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