23 November 2011

A day on the Orient Express

. . . I'm back from the lovely Edinburgh.

I had an absolutely amazing time visiting the city, although my time spent visiting was rather short. But the main part of the day was travelling to and from Edinburgh on the Orient Express. In short, the Orient Express is a luxury long distance train which first began during 1883. Sadly, the original Orient Express stopped running in 2009, but there are several other orient express trains which are still running today, such as the Venice-Simplon 'Northern Belle' Orient Express, which I experienced on Friday 18th November.

My mum has always wanted to go on the orient express, but wanted to go on it whilst celebrating something special in her life. In a few weeks time after 42years in the medical field, she retires, and celebrates a big birthday milestone. So she thought as a treat to herself (and me), she opted to fulfill her dream, and travel the Venice Simplon 'Northern Belle' Orient Express. 

As stated above, this is a luxurious train, which of course comes hand in hand with luxurious food, and O M G I was absolutely stuffed (food coma sums it up pretty well). But before I start telling you all about my day, this blog post is written at the request of a blogger (can't remember her name). I wasn't going to blog about it, as I didn't want readers thinking I was showing off, which is far from it, or detracting away from the main focus of my blog. So today I will write about my day and experience on the Orient Express, and then tomorrow I will showcase what little goodies I picked up whilst in Birmingham and Edinburgh.

My day began at 2:30am . . yes, stupid o clock, in order to make sure I was showered, dressed and ready for 4am to trek down to Birmingham International for the prompt departure at 5am. Upon arrival, my mum and I were greeted by a lovely gentleman who politely referred to us both by our 'titles' and surname whilst checking our tickets/invitation to board letters. I instantly felt like I was being treated like Royalty, and could sense a good day ahead.

Making our way to the actual train, it all started to become a reality, and I got very excited. We were directed to our carriage 'Alnwick', and then greeted by a lovely steward by the name of Chris. Just when I thought there literally were no more lovely men in this world, this gentleman was super lovely; polite, friendly, with a great sense of humour. Entering the carriage was like stepping back in time; super luxurious, cosy, and immaculate. My mum and I had a table for two, so didn't have to sit opposite strangers the entire journey there and back.

The 5am departure turned into a very prompt departure of 4.57am (no messing), and toot-toot, we were off on our way to Edinburgh (picking up passengers from Derby and Sheffield on the way). Of course the early start meant no proper breakfast, and at this time of the morning, I was starving. It wasn't until an hour or 2 into the journey, the 5 course . . yes 5 course brunch started.

Brunch Menu

Orient Express Bellini
(Peach Purée, topped up with Italian Prosecco)
{Scottish Oats Porridge with Red Berry Fruit Compote - extra}
Fresh Fruit Cocktail
Scrambled Eggs Wrapped in an Inverawe Smoked Salmon Parcel, served on a Warm Buttered Crumpet finished with fresh Whitby Crab, Hollandaise, Tomato, Chives and Caviar
Selection of Danish Pastries
Morning Bakery selection with preserves and Butter
Rainforest Alliance Coffee

I looked at the menu, and thought ''Noway will I like bellini, caviar, or even finish it''. But I thought I'll try it anyway as 1) I probably won't get the opportunity to try some of the food ever again, and 2) I was starving!

Before the fruit salad there was porridge, but I am not a porridge lover. So I ate the fruit compote, and sent back the porridge! (What can I say, I love fruit!). But I think it was a good job I didn't eat it as I was absolutely stuffed after eating the last dish (which was cooked beautifully, and caviar actually tastes quite nice - never thought I'd hear myself say those words!). Shortly after (and a quick breather), the fresh danish basket was making its trip down the carriage to which I thought it would be rude not to have at least one  pastry, which was light and fresh. On the verge of bursting, I could not stomach anymore food (bypassed the tea/coffee), so I opted to take a leisurely walk around the carriage and to the gift boutique, in a bid to try and burn some calories!

Approximately 12.30pm, toot-toot, the Orient Express arrived in Edinburgh. And of course at this point, I was still feeling the effects of 'food coma', but just about managed to walk off the train and onto the coach, ready to go to the Royal Yacht Britannia. I am not a Royalist but my mum wanted to see the former Royal yacht, which was de-commissioned in 1997.

After spending 2 hours exploring the yacht and the shopping complex Ocean Terminal, it was time to head back to the station and catch the train. With an hour or so to burn, mum and I decided to do a spot of shopping (all purchases will be revealed in tomorrow's blog post). The hour shopping time came and went so fast that it was time to make our way to the platform. As I walked down the steps, toot toot, in the distance came the rolling Northern Belle.

As the doors opened, an Orient Express 'Northern Belle' mat was placed elegantly on the platform and our carriage steward Chris stepped out and greeted us. We immediately noticed he and the other stewards had all changed for dinner, and looked incredibly smart. The uniform change instantly changed the feel, sense of the train, and our table was set beautifully ready for dinner, with appetizers and chilled wine ready for consumption (how cute is the dinner jacket napkin?).

As with the brunch menu and its 5 courses, it was the same with dinner.

Dinner Menu

Ballotine of Chicken and Foie Gras Terrine served with a Warm Brioche
Seared Fillet of Rhug Estate Organic Beef, Horseradish dumpling, wilted Spinach and Rocket and fondant Potato with a braised Shin Jus
Great British Cheeseboard and Home-made Chutney
Highland Sticky Toffee Pudding, Toffee Sauce and Clotted Cream
Rainforest Alliance Coffee

I missed out the cheeses (don't like cheese), but Chris (our carriage steward) offered me cheese biscuits and home-made chutney, which tasted absolutely delicious - yum! By the time I got to my pudding, I was ready to keel over and just sleep. When my mum and I worked out how long we'd been eating, it was 3+hrs (no kidding!). To no surprise, I think I fell asleep shortly after, only later to wake up and find a cute little box of Orient Express chocolates (which are incredibly rich, but delicious), and the train coming into Birmingham International. My adventure on the Orient Express was coming to an end, but it is an experience I will never forget.

I had an amazing time, and so did my mum. And I just want to say a big thank you to all the crew on board the Northern Belle 18th Nov 2011; they worked so so well and were extremely polite and really ensured we had an fantastic trip.  Thank You.

Would I go on the Orient Express again?
Y E S! In fact already thinking about doing the London to Venice trip for my 30th (even though that is years away yet!)

For further information about the Orient Express, then please visit their website here

Please Note: This day trip was purchased with my mum's own money. Both my mum and I have not been paid to write about this experience, nor are we affiliated with Orient Express.


  1. Wow that seems such an amazing experience, even all the little touches. And that food looks heavenly. I'm a bit of a secret train geek so i'd just utterly adore a trip like that x

  2. Serenity of Beauty23 November 2011 15:45

    @Rachael - It simply is stunning. The food = absolutely exquisite, even the foods I never thought I'd like, were gorgeous.

  3. Oh my gosh, so jealous - this is the one thing I really want to do in my life!

    Looks like you had a lovely time! xoxo

  4. This is something I know my parents have always wanted to do.

    - Allie x

    Allie UK Blog

  5. WOW! It looks amazing - thanks for sharing! x

  6. this looks incredible, so elegant but in a by gone era way.... I want to go on the orient express now! xxx

  7. ClaireBumblingAlong23 November 2011 21:15

    OMG! Now i understand the tweets ha ha! I'm sooooo jealous!!! xxx

  8. this looks amazing!!! hope you and mother serenity had an absolutely fab time :) xxx

  9. TheBristolBeautyBlog25 November 2011 23:01

    Looks like a fantastic trip! I'd so love to go! Amazing! xx

  10. Serenity of Beauty26 November 2011 23:57

    Thank you everyone for your comments :) It truly was an amazing day. If you want to experience this luxurious train, or know someone who desperately does (ie parents, g/parents, yourself), then I urge you to start saving and go.


  11. Sounds amazing... I've always wanted to go on a train like this or the ones in South Africa like the Blue train/shongololo express and of course the Mahalaba express in India.

    One day I will

    Thanks for sharing your experience :)