The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express starts its 2013 season with a brand new route and lovingly restored carriages
Thursday 21, March 2013
The crystal glasses are gleaming, the silver is polished, marquetry panels varnished and cabins prepared; arrangements are complete for the start of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express’ (VSOE) 2013 season.
This year sees the train head to Scandinavia on a new and exciting itinerary from Venice to Stockholm via Copenhagen and the restoration of two of the 17 iconic carriages, keeping the romance of train travel alive.
New for 2013 are a series of rail adventures to Scandinavia, visiting Stockholm for the first time in the train’s history. Departing Venice on 8 April, the VSOE will travel through Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Germany before heading via Copenhagen to Stockholm, linking three historically rich and diverse cities by an extraordinary rail experience.
The classic overnight journey from London to Venice via Paris, and vice versa, leaves regularly throughout the season and is a highlight of the schedule, as is the annual voyage to Istanbul; stopping along the way overnight in Bucharest and Budapest. This signature voyage, once a favourite of Agatha Christie, departs Paris on 30 August and returns to Venice on 6 September 2013.
On 22 May and 23 October, the train will depart from Venice to London via Budapest and Vienna on an insightful four-night journey. Alternatively, the journey from Venice to London via Prague will depart on 1 May, 5 June and 2 October discovering the charming capital of the Czech Republic.
The vintage carriages, often referred to as ‘museums on rails’ and filled with Art Deco charm, are kept in pristine condition with the help of expert artisans, as they were during the 1920’s. Unknown to guests who will travel on the train in 2013, over the recent winter months there have been a series of refurbishments to two of the three restaurant cars. The intricate works, carefully planned years in advance, started once the season ended in November 2012 and keep the train looking as fresh as they did when they first took to the rails, resplendent with the charm of the Golden Age of Travel.
The initial steps included removing all furnishings before sandblasting, then painting the exterior in the iconic royal blue shade followed by lashings of shining varnish, so the VSOE will sparkle all through the season.
L’Oriental, Dining Car 4095, is incredibly striking with black lacquered panels throughout. Once reglazed, the small designs were painted in bright yellow, red and green tones, so the carriage glistens in the light as the train meanders along each route. The marquetry panels in L’Etoile du Nord, Dining Car 4110, are filled with warm wooden floral designs and every section is rich with intricate details which have been brightened and the wood re-varnished. Each marquetry panel has been varnished 15 times and the total time taken to restore each carriage is over 6000 hours, 100 hours per craftsman.
The kitchen in each restaurant car, which is no bigger than the size of a small corridor, was stripped out before custom made fittings were installed ready for new delicious dishes to be created by the Executive Head Chef and his team.
The legendary train, which is a destination in itself, offers comfortable and beautifully appointed cabins and impeccable service. The exquisite cuisine and delicious cocktails are inspired by the routes the train travels through over the season; stewards are also on hand to assist with any special requests to ensuring each journey is one of a lifetime.
Prices for the classic overnight journey between London and Venice or vice versa, aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express are from £1,920 per person, based on two sharing a double cabin and including all table d’hôte meals. The season commences on 21 March until 7 November.
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