Neil Maslen Travel Counsellors

Neil from Travel Counsellors has an emotional Orient Express ride

Neil Maslen from Travel Counsellors narrates a trip he took on the Orient Express with his aunt.

Auntie Pauline is the jewel in our family’s crown. Direct and blunt.

When we lost dear Uncle Mac, we worried about how Pauline would manage without the love of her life. He was as fine man, but a little tight with cash, so Pauline wanted to do the thing that he’d never pay for − a trip on the Orient Express.

Unfortunately, in June last year, Pauline discovered that for the third time she was going to have to fight cancer. With her usual bluntness, she said she’d need to experience the Orient Express quickly as she might not be here in 2020, so we hastily arranged for me to accompany her on her dream trip. The first part of the journey was aboard the British Pullman, a classic, art deco style train. The noise and smell when it pulled in took you back to black and white images of steam trains. A welcome glass of fizz and four-course brunch set the tone as we raced towards Folkestone. A swift transfer from the Pullman to a fleet of waiting coaches took us to Calais.

As we pulled up to the Orient Express, Pauline grabbed my arm and looked like a kid on Christmas morning! The cabins had beautiful picture windows framing the view. Our cabin manager greeted us with more champagne and our invitation to a black tie dinner. Everyone dressed up in their finest attire. The meal was superb − lobster bisque, dover sole and a cheese board! We slept well and woke to views of the alps. A continental breakfast was served as the train sped through the Italian lakes, passing Lake Garda and Verona, before reaching Venice. It was an amazing couple of days. Pauline loved it. I’ve often helped people achieve their trips of a lifetime, but having a ringside seat for this was incredibly special.


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