VENICE SIM­PLONORI­ENT-EX­PRESS

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - ALL ABOARD -

sil­very tube of aircon­di­tioned lux­ury, fine food and fine wine that snakes 4352km across the con­ti­nent be­tween Perth and Syd­ney through scenery as di­verse as deserts, the ru­ral heart­land of New South Wales, leg­endary min­ing towns, the lush majesty of the Blue Moun­tains and the sprawl­ing empti­ness of the Nullar­bor Plain.

Plat­inum Ser­vice has large pri­vate cab­ins with full en­suites and pam­per­ing ser­vice.

Gold Ser­vice pas­sen­gers have pri­vate twin-sleeper cab­ins with en­suites and show­ers. Both have ac­cess to the plush Queen Ade­laide restau­rant car and the Out­back Ex­plorer lounge with com­pli­men­tary meals, beers, stan­dard wines, tea and cof­fee.

Red Ser­vice has com­fort­able re­clin­ing day-nighter seats with plenty of leg room, hot show­ers in each car­riage and the Matilda Cafe, with meals, snacks, soft and al­co­holic drinks for pur­chase. Fares from $899- $3999 (great­south­ern­rail.com.au). Busi­ness class flights Syd­ney-Perth on same day – Qan­tas $1429, Vir­gin $1999. No ref­er­ence to il­lus­tri­ous trains is com­plete with­out men­tion­ing the clas­sic Art Deco Venice Simplon-Ori­en­tEx­press, pos­si­bly the bench­mark of se­quined and din­ner-jack­eted style on rails.

Board the Bri­tish Pull­man train at Lon­don’s Vic­to­ria Sta­tion bound for Gare de l’Est in Paris, where French chefs on the Ori­ent Ex­press pre­pare the Miche­lin-grade menu to be served in one of three sump­tu­ous 1920s din­ing cars.

Start with belli­nis by the baby grand piano in the Art Nou­veau bar car be­fore the four-course din­ner served at­ten­tively but un­pre­ten­tiously by white-gloved wait­ers (think lob­ster, scal­lops and caviar).

Slip be­tween crisp damask sheets in the vin­tage pol­ished oak and ma­hogany-pan­elled cabin amid crys­tal glass­ware, silk lamp­shades and large pic­ture win­dows and wake to break­fast in bed be­fore the train ar­rives in Venice.

“The Ori­ent Ex­press is a fab­u­lous train,” Smith says. Fares from $3080- $6190pp in­clude all ta­ble d’hote meals (belmond.com, freecall 1800 000 395). Bri­tish Air­ways has busi­ness class fares Lon­don to Venice from $967.

More: seat61.com

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