Nov 5th, 2016
I woke up at 6:30am and ran (well jumped) across the cabin to open the window blind. I was rather expecting to see some Alps, but in fact there was some rather unremarkable French countryside. At this point it began to dawn on me that part of the reason that I had slept so well was that for most of the night the train had been stopped. This turned out to be because there had been a problem with the engine and we were now running four hours late. Under normal circumstances I would have been pretty pissed off about this – but actually – in this case it just meant that we had been given a bonus four hours on the train.
Our steward miraculously reconstructed our day cabin, and we were served a delicious continental breakfast, complete with what appeared to be freshly squeezed ruby grapefruit juice. It is hard to believe this is all done in a train – particularly as all the china looks to be fine porcelain with gold embelishments which doesn’t look as though it would take well to being put in a dishwasher. Breakfast over, we sat back and relaxed as we rushed across France. I put some 1930s music on my phone to keep me in the mood – and it occurred to me that this was the best of both worlds – the style of the 30s and the tech of 2016.
Soon it was time for lunch, and this time we were seated with a nice Danish couple. You are actually given the choice of sitting on your own (in twos), or with another couple (in fours) and we always chose to socialize which to me was all part of the experience. As we were eating another superb meal (turbans of sole, duck with potato and apple puree and lemon cheesecake) the scenery was becoming more and more magnificent as we crossed the alps. Unfortunately, photos through a window don’t do it justice – but as I remarked to R – I couldn’t think of anything much nicer than fine food, fine wines, and those views.
On a completely different subject, I did notice that during the entire journey across France, Italy and a sparsely populated part of Switzerland – the mobile data service rarely dropped off 4G, and never off 3G. We even had coverage for a significant portion of the tunnels. How is it that our continental neighbours can manage what seems to be such a challenge in Scotland? I can’t help feeling that our crappy setup can do us no favours at all, either from the point of view of attracting tourists, or encouraging business. But I sound like a broken record here so I will shut up.
We passed a pleasant afternoon relaxing in our cabin and watching Switzerland zoom past. Around 4pm we were served with afternoon tea. I am seriously going to have to go on a diet when we get back – all this rich food and zero exercise can not be good for the figure. The typical reaction of a travel company to a longish delay seems to be “we apologise for the inconvenience caused” and if you are very lucky, a free sandwich. Not so on VSOE where we were informed that we would be given a free dinner with complimentary wine and champagne.
Around 8:30pm and we arrived in Venice with just a short walk to our lovely hotel.
We went for a short walk around Venice which seems very pretty.