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SOUTH AFRICA


I


ts distinctive sapphire-blue carriages have carried Nelson Mandela, the Queen, Mia Farrow and Naomi Campbell. It journeys through some of South Africa’s most stunning landscapes and is of course synonymous with luxury travel and opulence from a bygone era. The Blue Train is intrinsically linked to South


Africa’s rich and turbulent history, dating back to the 19th century when mining magnate Cecil Rhodes dreamed of building a rail line from Cape Town to Cairo. His dream was not fully realised, and the line only got as v>À >Ã Ìhi <>mLiâi ,iÛiÀ] ÜhiÀi Ìhi train overlooks Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.


Italian marble and gold- plated fittings disguise impressive high-tech amenities such as


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In 1923 the train began transporting passengers – taking them from Johannesburg to the ships departing from Cape Town bound for England. Aside from a brief hiatus during the Second World War, The Blue Train has continued transporting passengers in style along the same route ever since.


I was excited to follow in the eminent footsteps of those aforementioned famous faces, particularly Mandela, who in 1997, ordered a plate of smoked salmon sandwiches to his suite – something guests


underfloor heating and remote-controlled blinds


can still do to this day via their personal butler. Everything about The Blue Train harks back to a golden age of travel and my journey back in time starts in a private pre-departure lounge in Cape Town, Vom«liÌi ÜiÌh Ài` V>À«iÌ] > }l>Ãà ov wââ >n` V>n>«jð ̽à hiÀi wÀÃÌ miiÌ Õ«Li>Ì ÌÀ>in m>n>}iÀ] Siyathemba Mbambo, who later told me he “learnt how to be happy” from his previous job at Walt Disney World Resort.


ƂvÌiÀ µÕ>vwn} Vh>m«>}ni] iÌ was time to venture to the platform where butlers, dressed in immaculate blue uniforms with shiny gold buttons and crisp white gloves, wait ready to whisk my luggage away and show me to my accommodation.


A half bottle of chilled sparkling wine waits for me in my De Luxe Suite, which is big enough to house two comfy seats, a table, TV and a bathroom with shower. Ì>li>n m>ÀLli >n` }ol`-«l>Ìi` wÌÌin}Ã `iÃ}ÕiÃi


im«ÀiÃÃiÛi hi}h-ÌiVh >miniÌiià ÃÕVh >à Õn`iÀyooÀ heating and remote-controlled blinds. Elsewhere in the 17-coach train, South African artwork adorns the walls, adding splashes of colours among ª


OPPOSITE: FIRST ROW: table set for dinner; Seven Sisters, Cape Town; SECOND ,"7\ wni `inin}Æ ÜÀiÌiÀ Ƃmii iiliÞÆ >ÌjiiÃvonÌiin platform; THIRD ROW: De Luxe Suite; FOURTH ROW: staff offer a turndown service in suites; Club Car bar; PREVIOUS PAGE: The Blue Train and Table Mountain at sunset Credits: Shutterstock; Unsplash/Tobias Fischer


48 ASPIRE NOVEMBER 2019 aspiretravelclub.co.uk


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