The first night on the train was a mixed bag. I got some sleep, though not as much as I would have liked. The train stopped from about midnight until about 3am which surprised me. I thought that the train kept going through the night. The cabin got quite hot so we opened the window. Hubby commented that it would have been nice to have had the noise from the train as we slept and I agreed. By the time the train got going, the open window was blowing a gale and I couldn’t be bothered to sit up and close it!
In the morning we found out the reason that the train had stopped for so long was because the train had actually broken down in the middle of nowhere and another engine had to be brought out
to the train. As a result of that, we were running 4 hours behind schedule. We had been due to arrive in Venice at 5:30pm but it would most likely be 9:30pm instead. An additional ‘light’ supper would be provided for those who wanted it. A light supper, it later transpired, meant 2 courses (main and dessert) instead of the usual 3 courses!
The Steward advised us to let him know when we were ready for breakfast then he would convert our cabins back to daytime mode and bring in a breakfast of fresh fruit salad and pastries with a delicious selection of preserves. I discovered that I love French honey!
After breakfast we took a wander up to the on-board shop. I was disappointed to learn that they didn’t have any fridge magnets. I did manage to get an Orient Express bear that I was absolutely delighted with! It was an expensive but very memorable souvenir.
We spent some time in the bar playing cribbage. It was blissfully quiet compared to the night before but the piano player was still playing. What a lovely way to pass a few hours!
After we’d finished we headed back to our cabin to watch the beautiful scenery. Part of the
journey was through the Swiss alps. Some was beautiful greenery, others were more dramatic mountains, lakes and ravines. It made us want to do a driving holiday through Switzerland at some point!
The choice of lunch sittings was either 12pm or 2pm. We choose 2pm as we were still quite full from all the food we’d been given whilst on board. I’d have been happy with something smaller but it was a (delicious) 3 course lunch! Sole for starter, duck for main and cheesecake for dessert. At this point I felt like I never wanted to eat again!
No chance! Afternoon tea was served in the cabin and a ‘light’ supper was offered at 6pm. We declined the light supper.
The rest of the afternoon was spent reading and packing up our suitcase ready for when we got into Venice. We had a short stopover at the Swiss/Italian border so we could swap over the engine and train crew. It was also an opportunity for guests to stretch their legs which was most welcome. I’m not used to sitting still for this long! Again, there were armed police not too far away from the train.
By about 7pm I was ready to get off the train. It was dark outside and we were killing time until we were able to get off. About 45 minutes before we were to disembark the Steward collected our suitcases for sending on to the hotel. Our hand luggage was also supposed to be sent on but because our train was so delayed we had to carry it with us. This didn’t go down too well with all of the passengers!
We were met from the train and taken down to the dock to meet the water taxi. As we came out of the station, I was struck by the beauty and atmosphere of Venice. There was a bustling atmosphere with people everywhere. It’s unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I just wanted to stop, stare and take lots of pictures!
A small water taxi had been organised to take us to our hotel. It was tiny and I had no idea how it would get 9 or us plus luggage in there but somehow it managed to. My sea legs left something to be desired and as I got down into the boat I had to hold onto one of the guys loading the luggage and the one on the boat. What a good excuse to get handsy with some Italians!!
The journey to the hotel took about 10 minutes and I was mesmerised by the city. I didn’t know where to look first. It was so beautiful and so very, very different. I’ve wanted to go to Venice for as long as I can remember and finally I was here, experiencing it after being on-board The Orient Express for 2 days. It all felt rather surreal.
We were staying at The Gritti Palace Hotel, which from the outside looks like a club. As we were disembarking, hotel staff descended on us to take our bags. The hotel was quite simply stunning. I was lost for words as we walked into the lobby. Beautiful doesn’t quite cover it. The architecture is amazing. Marble everywhere and a gorgeous library area with leather chairs. This was somewhere that I could sit for hours reading and people watching.
Our rooms were no less lavish. The suite (room is too small a word) was enormous with huge, high ceilings and a balcony looking out over the canal. The bathroom was gorgeous with a deep bath, shower area and his n hers wash area. The bed was big enough for 5 (though we contented ourselves with just the two of us!) and complementary champagne, bowls of fruit and water waiting for us.
By the time we were in and settled it was 10:30pm but we were hungry so we headed down to the bar to get some (very expensive) food. We sat outside in the bar area, sharing a club sandwich and cheeseburger watching the sites and listening to the sounds of Venice. It still felt a bit unreal. I was excited to be in Venice and I couldn’t wait to get out and start exploring.
We decided to sleep with the balcony door open even though it was cold because we wanted to listen to the sounds of Venice. We had extra blankets and I wanted to make the most of the experience.
Tomorrow the adventure was to begin anew! I had a feeling I was going to love Venice!