There are many things in life that we take for granted, but none more so than the ability to simply stop and enjoy the little things in life – the fleeting moments that we often overlook and end up missing out on. This, dear readers, is the joy of The Blue Train.
The Blue Train is all about a slower approach to life. Whether it is relaxing in your cabin and watching the countryside whizz by, or sipping a cocktail in the Club Car as you chat with fellow guests, The Blue Train creates and celebrates these small ‒ but significant ‒ moments.
With any Blue Train experience, guests are greeted at the threshold of the welcome lounge at either Cape Town or Pretoria stations while their luggage is checked in. They are then ushered inside, where a waiter will be ready to offer them a drink of their choice. As The Blue Train is nothing short of a celebration, I opted for a glass of bubbles ‒ there could not have been a more fitting way to start two of the most luxuriously relaxing days I have ever had.
The welcome lounge was buzzing with palpable anticipation. The train was yet to roll in and we were all hoping to catch a glimpse of our new home in motion. Interrupted mid-sentence by the metallic sound of rail breaks and the gentle whoosh of the steam engine, I watched in wonder as the iconic Blue Train eased its way into the station, glistening and gleaming like I expected it to.
After a safety briefing and making our dinner reservations, we were escorted onto the iconic train. Our cabin was exactly as I hoped it would be – with shining wood panels that lined the walls, accented by golden trims and antique-style carpets. Like something out of a Hollywood film, our cabin was the perfect size for a couple and gave us all the privacy we needed. The window took up almost half of the wall and we spent many hours watching the unfamiliar countryside drift past on our way from the Mother City to Pretoria.
Dining on The Blue Train is a similar experience to that of a five-star hotel. Guests were asked to dress formally, with men needing to don a tie and suit jacket. Presented with a menu of delicious options, I must confess that I had trouble choosing. Every dish chosen was delectable. Flavours were matched in perfect harmony, with each course carrying influences from various international cuisines. To find the perfect wine pairing, all we needed to do was ask one of the friendly waiting staff, who happily assisted.
After dinner, we opted for tea in the Viewing Car, which we had to ourselves, before retiring to our cabin and finding it expertly turned down. After a shower in our cabin’s cosy en-suite bathroom, we retired for the night, while the gentle clatter of the train tracks became a lullaby, sending us off to peaceful sleep.
There is just one stop en route for The Blue Train, and that is in Kimberley, famous for their ‘Big Hole’. With an interesting history that I had never heard, Kimberley was a great stop off the train to stretch our legs on still ground. Once thoroughly educated in the history of the biggest man-made hole in the world, we headed back to the station for boarding. We were greeted on the platform with a sherry and a notice that High Tea was being served.
High Tea, similar to any dining occasion on The Blue Train, is delectable. The spread was filled with cakes and pastries, with pops of colour from fruit platters and various local cheeses. We opted to wash our High Tea down not with actual tea, but with Pimms and lemonade – a real English classic, and what a treat it was!
On our last night, we dined with renewed vigour. After all, we were probably never going to be fortunate enough to experience a dinner on The Blue Train again. It really was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. The food was delicious and the cocktails (made especially for us) made the whole night sing.
When we disembarked at Pretoria Station, I felt sad to say goodbye to my fancy home on wheels. It felt very much like we were being transported on a piece of history – along a route that had been travelled for hundreds of years between two of SA’s biggest cities. What a privilege it was, and I will forever be able to say “I have experienced the magic of The Blue Train”.
For more information, visit www.bluetrain.co.za.
Text: Charlotte Rogers
Photography © Blue Train SA