Thursday, January 7, 2016

Off to Vienna! Our first evening aboard the Venice Simplon Orient Express

Taking the Orient Express was definitely one of the very best parts of our trip! Everywhere you looked were beautiful details. The train was gorgeous, the staff was impeccable, the food and cocktails were fantastic. Oh, and the fashion opportunities! 

The train is made up of sleeping and restaurant cars, mostly from the 1920's and 30's. Almost every detail in the cars is the way it was. And the guests have to take part, too. No jeans, no cell phones (except for photos), no bottles - glasses only, thank you very much. It's lovely!

And, of course, the train is quite famous for being the backdrop of Agatha Christie's mystery, Murder on the Orient Express.

We boarded in Venice and were shown to our cabin. It was a lovely and cozy little room! 

These are all various light switches and call buttons. The horizontal rectangle to the right is a reaming lamp, and the long vertical rectangle at the top is a lever that folds open and holds up the top bunk - more on that later.

This lovely little cabinet opens to reveal a wash basin. Each cabin has one, but the WC is down the hall. And I should have taken a picture, haha! It was a lovely bathroom! The journeys are one night at a time, so the lack of shower is no problem at all.

The below two pictures show where the steward stays. Back in Agatha Christie's day, the steward would have rested on a seat in the corridor of the car.

The bar car was, by far, the best part of the train! Our bar tender in Lake Como used to work with the head bartender on the train, Walter, so we were already sent with an introduction. We spent most of the trip at the bar, which was a real treat. Walter has a passion for historical cocktails. Each drink had a story and was made in the same way as it was originally. Even the ice has to be picked up along the way, as the kitchen situation is the same on the train now as it was almost a century ago.

There is also a baby grand on board! It comes off at the end of each season. Quite a feat, as they have to take the legs off!

Ah, and then the best part: dressing for dinner! I so wanted to sew something myself for this, but maybe next time. Oh, I was so in love with this gown!

As the dinner hour approached, the bar car became packed! Absolute sardines! Of course, excess space is nowhere to be found on board. When passing in the corridors, it's a very "cozy" affair.

Being the first night of the journey, the energy on board was fantastic. You could tell everyone was excited to be there. It was like a big party!

Passing through the restaurant cars, one passes the kitchens. It's amazing the caliber of food that comes out of such a small space!

The train stops multiple times along the one night journey. I think we had crossed the Austrian border here. The stop was long enough that we could step off for a moment, which was an experience in itself. You had to be careful - on one of the nights, we overheard that a passenger wandered and got left at a station. The passenger had to find a way to meet the train at a future stop!

At one of the longer stops, I had a special drink made for me. The Pousse-cafĂ©. It was special because, being a layered drink, it can only be made with success when the train is stopped. Woo, so sweet, though! But the various sweetness of the liqueurs are what makes them dense enough to stay separate from the next layer. 

At some point during the evening, while the guests enjoy dinner, the cabin steward comes around and turns down the cabins for sleeping. The sofa turns down into lower berth and a second bed comes down for the top bunk. It was delightfully cozy! We were going through the Alps, and there were some mighty tight turns. Quite an adventure!

Good morning, Austria! We had to wake up punctually, as the train was arriving at about 9 am, and we wanted to be able to experience breakfast before disembarking.

See, told you the cabins are cozy-sized!

Your steward brings continental breakfast to your cabin on a tray. 

After dressing, we went to the bar car for some tea, while our steward made our room back up into a seats for arrival in Vienna.

The restaurant cars were empty, so I took the opportunity to explore the cars and take pictures. Each of the three restaurant cars has a unique theme.

Hello, Vienna! Bye, train. Well, until next time!

Next up, the Hofburg, in Vienna!


  1. Gorgeous! Thanks for letting us come along vicariously on your trip...a European tour might never be in my cards but I always love seeing people's accounts of it. I've borrowed all the "Rick Steve's" dvd tour series from the library but it's more fun to get such a personal angle. The Orient Express looks every bit as fun and elegant as I imagined! LOVE your gown too.

    1. Oh I love Rick Steves! The train so was gorgeous. Definitely a bucket list trip! And thanks about the gown. Picking it out and shopping for the trip was almost as fun as going on it haha!

  2. What fun! Thanks for sharing your adventure with us!


  3. I am utterly jealous!! :) Going on the Orient Express is on the top of my dream holiday list!! Thank you for posting the photos. It is such a beautiful train *dreamy sigh*. :)

    1. Oh, it was SO beautiful. I definitely would recommend it to anyone!

  4. I am utterly jealous!! :) Going on the Orient Express is on the top of my dream holiday list!! Thank you for posting the photos. It is such a beautiful train *dreamy sigh*. :)