Breakfast in Bed

Imagine sitting up in bed early one morning in your sleeping compartment on the Orient Express warm, snug and cosy. You look out of the window and see that you have woken to spectacular snow covered mountains that are skating past the window as the train rumbles through the Italian countryside. This was the scene that I woke to when I travelled on the Orient Express last November from London to Venice.

The contrast between the icy cold outside and the warmth and comfort inside was quite delightful! I pulled the duvet up around me, plumped up the pillows and gazed out at the snowy scene, then looked with relish at my continental breakfast waiting on the table to be devoured. My husband poured me a strong coffee with hot milk, and I sat back and enjoyed the view of the white Italian mountains.

For our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary last November I booked a trip to Venice on the Orient Express for my husband and myself. I had wanted to travel by train for our honeymoon but we could not afford it, so flew to Venice instead. The trip had been a great success - as all honeymoons should be - but I had not forgotten my dream of travelling to Venice by train, however, and chose our Silver Wedding Anniversary to book the trip. I had been waiting a long time for this treat!

When we boarded the train it was immediately apparent that the experience was going to live up to all the hype in the brochures. Attendants were everywhere making sure that the bags were checked in and labelled, ready to be placed in the sleeping compartments, before we were shown to the restaurant car for afternoon tea. This was eaten as the train trundled through the Kent countryside, before we transferred to the train on the Continent that contained the sleeping compartments. Much later, we ate a wonderful evening meal in the restaurant car in plush surroundings; these included glass panels designed and made by Lalique. At the end of the meal we were told that breakfasts were always served in our sleeping compartment.

Before and after the evening meal we sat in the Piano Bar, which was a perfect opportunity to enjoy people watching. Everyone had taken notice of the advice given in the joining literature to dress up to the max! Men were in lounge suits and women in sparkly evening dresses. The atmosphere was relaxed and restrained - not a trip recommended for children! At the end of the evening we retired to our cabins and were rocked to sleep by the motion of the train.

After that memorable but light - breakfast we just had time to change ready for a second superb meal in the restaurant car. By this time we had left the snow behind and were travelling alongside vineyards of northern Italy. The food was of the highest standard and again the atmosphere was relaxed and urbane. Following lunch we arrived in Venice train station and travelled to our hotel. Breakfast the next morning was in a luxury hotel overlooking the Grand Canal, but although memorable, could not match that unique experience of breakfast in bed the day before!

C Bartley

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