By Mariam Afzal
Charles Barkley once said, “Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a train”. Train journeys often offer the best views of the countryside and relaxing travel. Here’s a brief list of some exotic and luxurious train routes that will lift your spirits.
Venice Simplon Orient Express
Historically, the Venice Simplon Orient Express is the actual true descendant of the Orient Express that functioned till 2009. It has a legacy of beauty, distinguished style, resplendent quality and magnificent views. This private luxury train service provides amenities that have a touch of timelessness. Exceptionally maintained, this train, which is evocative of the Agatha Christie novel, travels from Paris to Istanbul over six days.
Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express
The spirit of elegance has been reinforced with the luxury Golden Eagle Express. This train runs across Russia connecting east and west from Moscow alongside the shore of the world’s largest freshwater lake. Offering a twist to your taste buds, there are two restaurants on board — the gold car and the bar car.
Pride of Africa
A magnet for adventurers constantly in search of the wild, the Pride of Africa promises you one-of-a-kind experiences. Set amidst nature’s bounty. Ideal for artists and photographers, this track covers 2000 miles in nine days exploring national parks, famous diamond mines and waterfalls.
Palace on Wheels
The first train in India to provide hotel service, Palace on Wheels features world-class amenities crafted for your discerning taste. Explore Rajasthan – Jodhpur, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur and Agra.
Seven Stars, Japan
The Seven Stars is acclaimed as Japan’s most luxurious train, featuring seven carriages that hold 30 people in 14 suites. Doing justice to its name, the interiors comprise of maple and rosewood and glass doors etched with birds and flowers, making it an enchanting experience.
The Blue Train of Africa is the two-time winner of the title of Africa’s leading luxury train. It connects Cape Town and Pretoria with plenty of breathtaking views. The restaurants offer gourmet cuisine and choice African wines with butler service on request. Celebrity passengers have included Nelson Mandela, Kylie Minogue and Margaret Thatcher.
Awarded as ‘The World’s Luxury Train’ at the World Travel Awards in 2012, the Express captures the essence of Indian royalty with traditional designs, rich tapestry and hand-painted fresco ceilings. Travelling in heritage North India from Jaipur to Jodhpur, Bikaner, Varanasi and Agra, every detail is a reminder to stop and savour the moment.
Start your happily-ever-after vacation with a romantic escape in Rocky Mountaineer. This opulent abode with sprawling grandeur and gourmet cuisine is part of the 12-day adventure. Awarded seven times as the world’s leading travel experience by the World Travel Awards, the services onboard are categorised by Gold Leaf and Silver Leaf. September to October is the apt time to travel to get aboard this service.
Transcantabrico Gran Lujo
The Transcantabrico ushers you into a universe of unimaginable style and luxury. Commonly known as a ‘five-star hotel on rails’, this Spanish service provides a host of culinary options and selected wines. Travelling through Northern Spain, its stops include the Guggenheim Museum, the historic cave of Altamira, the Europa national park and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Hokkaido Railway Company
The Hokkaido Railway is taking luxe trains to new heights. Japan’s bullet service from Tokyo to Hokkaido has an 18-seat carriage. Enjoy great cuisine and friendly staff onboard. Elegant upholstery and plush recliners raise the comfort levels.