Time For A “Road Trip” On The Orient Express!
My Blogging friend Lorna has a great weekly writing prompt, which you can see here:
Lorna’s website gives other bloggers a chance to share stories – and this week she has asked for a “road trip”.
Well, as everyone who reads this blog knows, my wife and I just celebrated our
anniversary recently with a trip on the Venice Simplon Orient Express – yes, meticulously restored and lacquered to within an inch of its life…here is proof:
The trip began in Venice, took us to Budapest for a two day layover, then ended up in Paris. Here are three magical things to share about this “road trip”:
The Road Less Traveled!
Venice is, without a doubt, a gorgeous city. As are Budapest and Paris. But, you have to accept that all three cities are VERY crowded – in places. For instance, tourists swarm parts of Venice – here is just one example:
But, my wife Alex loves to research and plan ahead, and she booked us on a walking tour of “hidden Venice” – you know, side streets, and by streets I mean in some cases streets THIS WIDE:
If you read about the horrible flooding this week in Venice, then you know that 70% of the city is at least a foot of water as I type this…when we were there last month, they had already begun to set out portable walkways, anticipating this:
It was on this “hidden” tour that we came across Venice’s incredible secret bookstore:
Yes, this bookstore actually stores books inside of real Gondolas, because it helps to keep them dry during flooding – and their one “tourist attraction” is a stairway of books that you are supposed to walk on – so I did:
If you want to see more of our hidden walk through Venice, you can see the entire story here:
We loved Venice, and that was where we boarded the Venice Simplon Orient Express Train, headed for Budapest!
This train has been lovingly restored, with each car at least 80 years old. Here is what the hallway and rooms look like:
We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary on the train, with a spectacular meal and yes, a very “black tie” night – you can see our menu here:
One of the best parts of taking the train is that we traveled through the Italian countryside and the Alps as we headed toward Hungary – and it was like traveling through history:
As you can see, spectacular views all along the way!
The train pulled into Budapest, Hungary the next afternoon and we had two days to explore this beautiful, Eastern European city on the Danube River:
Yes, there was goulash, liberally seasoned with Paprika, which was also for sale everywhere! On our first night there, we took the sunset cruise on the river, and Budapest lights up all of their greatest buildings for the trip:
You can see more highlights of the city, and our cruise, here:
We were back on the train the next day, with Paris as our final destination….we spent two nights on the train, and I will share the two most important things to know:
Yes, while we were at dinner, our room was turned into bunkbeds…we could have had them side by side but we wanted this experience!
Second, there is NO bathroom in the room – because there is no room for one – so, just like in the good old days, there is a communal bathroom at the end of each coach.
Since there were only 8 rooms total in each car, we never saw anyone else in the bathroom.
So, if you wanted that information, now you have it!
After 26 hours on the train, we ended our “road trip” in Paris, where we spent 2 more days seeing sights like this: an interactive Mona Lisa!
That’s right – this art exhibit consisted of a twenty foot tall Mona Lisa interacting with us – because I can assure you she wasn’t painted doing THIS:
I shot some video of the exhibit as well, which you can see here:
As I mentioned, Lorna prompted this “road trip” overview, and she has her own blog as well, which is TERRIFIC – click here to see it and follow her!
Still more to come from our European adventure, including this trip to an amazing spa in Budapest: