Saturday 22 September 2007


Whenever we crossed a border we had a new engine and driver. As we passed into Italy there was a distinct change in speed. We hurtled through the night rocking and rolling all over the place. One of the Orient Express crew later said they thought the engine driver was a Ferrari owner! Result – we ended up at Venice Mestre station at 07.30 am and as we were not expect into Venice Ferroviaría until 10.10 am there we sat in our nightigowns waiting for our breakfast while bored Italians peered through the windows and took photographs.

Sudden activity. Our steward “knocked us up” one last time. “We will go into Venice earlier than scheduled. Get ready.” We did. Nothing happened. We finally arrived in Venice Ferroviaria (10 minutes away) at 10.30 am.

No welcoming committee, only tired, lethargic Italian porters who lost our luggage. Our “local host” was new to the job and was totally out of her depth. There were four in our group. Three going on to the airport for the 05.00 pm flight to Gatwick and my good friend who was taking the 02.45 pm train to Switzerland.

The Orient Express Reception Desk lady packed up and left us to it. It took quite a bit of shouting to finally locate the luggage two hours later. May I say this? It was a typical Italian cock up! And no-one gave a toss except our heroic “local host” who stuck with us throughout. What an initiation to the job!

Main memories of the trip? In chronological order.

The guide in Istanbul who was interesting, entertaining and knowledgeable.

The Orient Express host who went into a pharmacy in Istanbul to get advice and medication for my sinus problem.

The cost of a glass of wine at the Chiragan Palace Hotel, Istanbul. £12!

The totally unexpected “Bon voyage” ceremony at Istanbul the first of many such ceremonies.

The beauty of the train, the excellence of the food and the charm of the cabin and restaurant staff.

Fellow passengers who were so pleasant and sociable.

The awesome and humbling welcome we received in Bucherest.

The private venues that were opened up on our behalf in Bucherest and Budapest.

The attention to detail.

The way it all fell apart in Italy!
I had an interesting conversation with one of my fellow Gatwick passengers. She said “so - are you retired or not?” Good question. I then went on to describe the business and, as usual, became quite animated. “What I have been doing is step back from the day to day running of the business, but still keep “in the loop” with the global stuff. This gives me a reason for getting up in the morning and keeps me crazy” to which she replied “I don’t thing that you are ever going to walk away from that. You are so passionate about everything, especially the future”. Amen.


DogLover said...

That's what I always said you were: passionate.

Thanks for the tale of your journey - it's been a marvellous ride.

Back to real life now - builders and non-existent roofs! I hope Old Grumpy was glad to see you back.

I also hope we get some more travelogues in due course.

doglover said...

Old Grumpy was very glad to see me back. He hadn't eaten proper food for two weeks. He loves sandwiches, soup and porridge and I force feed him dinners which he hates. Strange man.

My next trip begins on Wednesday then I really must settle back and do some home stuff.

Anonymous said...

I have followed you through Europe (not literally you understand), slavered at the menus when I was eating sausage and mash, devoured the photos of exotic places as I sat in my lowly hovel, and fell in love with the special one (that's just thrown in to show I am keeping up with the most important news in the world!!!) who wanted to knock everyone up.

Are you home yet from exotic places before you start off on further adventures in to the New World????