The Royal Scotsman
Luxury Train Travel
Vivien Devlin boards the luxurious Royal Scotsman> train for a two day journey around the Scottish Highlands which utterly recaptures the romance and elegance of a bygone era.
The Scottish Highlands, with its history of clan warfare and rich cultural heritage, provides the spectacular and dramatic backdrop for your journey on the Royal Scotsman - regarded as the doyenne of the world's most exclusive trains.
Combining an elegant old-fashioned Edwardian style of furnishings and service with every modern convenience, this classic burgundy and cream liveried train offers a revival of the romantic age of railway travel. With a choice of two and four night itineraries, each journey offers the most perfect tour of Scotland in a nutshell from the comfort of your mobile Country House hotel.
From the thrill of crossing the Forth Rail Bridge, travel north to the Highlands, through the verdant colours and contours of lochs, pine forests and mountains. On daytime excursions you will visit ancient castles, watch tartan be woven, perhaps go on a wildlife safari to see Red deer, fish for trout, see how malt whisky is made and sample a dram or two, dance at a ceilidh and taste the very best of Scottish cuisine.
Before I reveal all the details of this journey, let's look back to see how it all began.....
The History of Luxury Train Travel
"Most people have that fantasy of catching the train that whistles in the night" wrote American singer, Willie Nelson. A train is marvelously evocative, full of nostalgic memories and images of the old steam engines, with the regular beat of its pistons and the rhythm of its wheels, the discipline of timetables, the excitement of departure and arrival at unknown stations.
Train journeys have come a long way since George Stephenson opened the Stockton-on-Tees to Darlington railway line in England in 1825 - the world's first railway line. Travel by train was rather uncomfortable until the American industrialist George Mortimer Pullman introduced dining and sleeping cars in 1864. Railway companies in Europe watched this development with interest and envy. Georges Nagelmackers, the son of a Belgian financier, was sent to America in 1868 where he experienced the comforts of travelling in the legendary Pullman coaches.
With the help of the Belgian King Leopold II and other business investment, Nagelmackers established an empire of 30 luxury trains, under the name, Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et des Grands Express European. These trains travelled across Europe, from Vladivostok to Lisbon, from St. Petersburg to Luxor. A new gracious era of rail travel was created to match the grand city hotels as the aristocracy, upper classes, and wealthy travellers went on their grand tours of Europe.
One of the most famous trains born of the period is the Orient Express which embarked on her maiden voyage in 1883 from Paris Gare de L`Est to Budapest and Istanbul. One hundred years later the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, began romantic journeys from London, via Paris to Venice. The train of course is immortalised by Agatha Christie's 1933 story, " Murder on the Orient Express".
And still to this day, the simple purchase of a train ticket promises the freedom of anonymous travel towards the horizon. The train, as much as the countries through which it passes, is a different territory, where a group of people are accidentally brought together, each with his or her own intentions and itinerary.
Fellow travellers are observed and categorised by manner and appearance, nationality, age and of course class of ticket. What may happen on a railway journey, whom we may meet, is unpredictable and an ideal place for exchanging confidences with strangers. A railway journey, embracing the familiar and extraordinary offers chance brief encounters and a sense of mystery and imagination. No wonder crime writers like Agatha Christie and Patricia Highsmith had a field day imagining evil deeds behind the closed compartment curtains of a moving train.
A journey by train therefore offers scope for adventure and new experiences; it's a totally relaxing way to travel, eliminating the stress when touring around a foreign country with no traffic jams or problems in following a map - while someone else takes care of the driving. And if you are going to travel by train then why not do it with style and sophistication and enter the glamorous private world of the luxury train.
Discerning travellers today welcome the renaissance of deluxe rail journeys with many companies world wide, including Rovos Rail in Southern Africa, The Al Andalus Expreso in Spain, The Eastern & Oriental Express, the Palace on Wheels in India and The American Orient Express.
On a visit to Scotland, the best way to see the country in style is to experience a journey on the Royal Scotsman.
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