zScapes Ramble On
London to Venice on the Orient Express
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The The Orient Express was a long-distance passenger train service created in 1883 by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL). The route and rolling stock of the Orient Express changed many times. Several routes in the past concurrently used the Orient Express name, or slight variations. Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name became synonymous with intrigue and luxury rail travel. The two city names most prominently associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Istanbul, the original endpoints of the timetabled service. The Orient Express was a showcase of luxury and comfort at a time when traveling was still rough and dangerous.

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) is a private luxury train service from London to Venice and other European cities. It is currently owned by Belmond, which operates 45 luxury hotels, restaurants, tourist trains and river cruises in 24 countries. The train was established in 1982 by James Sherwood of Kentucky, USA. In 1977 he had bought two original carriages at an auction when the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits withdrew from the Orient Express service, passing the service on to the national railways of France, Germany, and Austria. Over the next few years, Sherwood spent a total of US$16 million purchasing 35 sleeper, restaurant and Pullman carriages. On 25 May 1982, the first London–Venice run was made.

Trip of a Lifetime
When you think of the Orient Express, who cannot help conjure up Hercule Poirot solving a murder mystery on the snowbound train, or the countless images of traveling in luxury of an era gone by. As we were deciding on our honeymoon trip, it became our first choice to experience what luxury travel means today. Besides, all that hard work of putting people on planes to go experience their trip of a lifetime, it was our turn now. We were married in Healdsburg wine country, hoped a plane to London, srolled the city and then off to Victoria station for overnight ride on the rails. It did not disappoint. The luxury surroundings of vintage Pullman & Wagon-Lit railcars was like wrapping yourselves in the past. The service first rate, the meals remarkable and the journey was magical. Also, we had the best hot chocolate ever served by our steward Mario, who was in the family business. What a treat!
UK Pullman London to Folkestone
The trip is broken into 3 travel modes. London to Folkestone (UK Pullman), Folkestone to Calais (Hovercraft) and Calais to Venice (Continental Wagon-Lit). Since our trip, the channel crossing is via the Chunnel. The VSOE has separate restored carriages for use in the UK and for mainland Europe, but all of the same vintage (mostly dating from the 1920s and 1930s). Passengers are conveyed across the English Channel by coach on the Eurotunnel shuttle through the Channel Tunnel.
Continental Wagon-Lit Train Calais to Paris to Innsbruck to Venice
In the UK Pullman carriages are used; in continental Europe sleeping cars and dining cars of the former Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits are used. The VSOE continental leg contains 18 carriages - 12 sleeping cars, three dining cars, a bar car and two former Ytb class sleepers, which provide accommodation for the staff and storage rooms for luggage and supplies as well. The ten Lx class sleepers have nine double compartments, while the two S1 class sleepers used to accommodate 17 passengers in four double and nine single compartments.
Roaming Venice
The name is derived from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region by the 10th century BC. The city was historically the capital of the Republic of Venice for over a millennium, from 697 to 1797. It was a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as an important center of commerce—especially silk, grain, and spice, and of art from the 13th century to the end of the 17th. The city-state of Venice is considered to have been the first real international financial center, emerging in the 9th century and reaching its greatest prominence in the 14th century.

This was our playground for several days, soaking in Piazza San Marco (literally as it rained a good portion while we were there!), visiting Murano & Burano, tasting fine Italian cooking and weaving in and out of the alleyways and canals. Even had time for a gondola ride.
Murano & Burano
Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It lies about 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles) north of Venice and measures about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) across with a population of just over 5,000 (2004 figures). It is famous for its glass making. It was once an independent comune, but is now a frazione of the comune of Venice.

Burano is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, near Torcello at the northern end of the lagoon, known for its lace work and brightly coloured homes. The primary economy is tourism.

A short boat ride away to the historic past and present of Venice.

Last Days
As we got ready to end our trip, we spent the last day wandering about the city riding, riding the water buses, taking a standing Gondola ride and just soaking up the splendor of this place. Our last stop was to pickup a Venetian Mask as worn during the Carnevale to complete this joyous time.
May our paths & errands meet

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