So when I was invited to experience The Blue Train, not only was I excited to experience a much more distinguished version of the train as I knew it, I was also doubtful because, I mean, it’s just a train ride, right?
The sheer class, lavishness and grandeur of the Blue Train was evident the moment I boarded it. The Blue Train is basically a mobile hotel.
It offers, among other things, a butler service, two lounge cars (smoking and non-smoking options) and exquisite suites complete with gold touches and finishes.
After my personal butler, a fellow Zimbabwean named Trevor, ushered me to my suite, my first instinct was to raise the window blinds.
I keep them raised for the rest of the weekend, soaking in every scenic, bushy, mountainous town we passed. This particular route, which was reintroduced recently, travels from Pretoria to Hoedspruit - a quiet town near the Kruger National Park in Limpopo.
The other option, which has carried the Blue Train over the years, is the route between Pretoria and Cape Town - a 27-hour journey of 1600km, which includes a stopover and an excursion in Kimberley.
Throughout my trip, Trevor was on hand to cater to my every need.
Whenever I was too lazy to go to the lounge to get a drink, I’d pick up the en-suite phone, dial Trevor’s number, and within minutes he’d be outside with my gin and tonic.
After I had a little bit too much fun with the other guests into the wee hours of the morning on the first night, I woke up late for breakfast; absolutely ravenous. Fortunately, Trevor got the chef to fix me a delicious, filling, full-house omelette.
Each meal on the trip, especially our seven-course dinners, looked like a work of art and tasted like heaven. Snacks and all applicable meals are part of The Blue Train package.
The package includes cognacs, other selected drinks and genuine Cuban cigars (after dinner) as well as an elephant interaction at Camp Jabulani.
Unfortunately, after we were delayed for a couple of hours because a train had apparently derailed in front of us, we didn’t get to experience Camp Jabulani fully when we arrived as we were running behind schedule.
But in the few minutes that we were there, we got to see four cheetahs in an enclosure not far from the restaurant where we enjoyed a light lunch.
For some reason, our journey back to Pretoria via the exact same route late on a Saturday afternoon seemed even more beautiful. I soaked it all in over A-Reece’s new album and a few more gin and tonics.
The Blue Train has a tradition of elegance, and I particularly relished having to wear the compulsory jacket and tie for dinner.
I took full advantage of the opportunity to get dressed up and showed off some new suits. They say time flies when you’re having fun and The Blue Train experience flew by way too quickly.
That train at the park was pretty cool as a kid but, boy oh boy, this was something else!
For more information visit www.bluetrain.co.za