Last March, we took the Blue Train of South Africa from Cape Town to Pretoria. It’s a relaxing two-night journey on beautiful train. If you have the time, this is the best way to get to Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, from the Western Cape. Moreover, you get to see Kimberely, the capital of the beautiful Northern Cape as well.
I’ve been on the Blue Train twice and every moment has been interesting and also relaxing. I love the long meals and the cozy cabins, and the endless amazing views.
EXPERIENCES ON THE BLUE TRAIN
The Blue Train is elegant and old-fashioned. The private suites are spacious and each suite has an ensuite bathroom. In the day, the suites function as comfortable living rooms where you can sit and read, or watch the passing scenery. I so enjoy doing this, and I never tire of the views of South Africa.
Meanwhile, while guests are enjoying a delicious three-course dinner, the train butlers are busy turning the suites into cozy bedrooms. It’s amazing how well planned the suites are because the bedrooms on the Blue Train are just like hotel rooms. In fact, I have had some of my best sleep on this train.
FOOD ON THE BLUE TRAIN
The food on the Blue Train deserves special mention, especially as I have taken this journey twice now. The quality on both trips has been the same.
Breakfast is a nice elaborate meal that invites you to relax and enjoy the morning. It starts with sparkling wine, if you wish, and fruits and cold dishes on a sideboard in the restaurant car. Then you can order your hot dishes from a menu. It’s a wonderful way to start the day on a train.
LUNCH ON A TRAIN
Lunch is also relaxing, and you can choose to sit with other passengers or to have a table to yourselves. Again, it’s a three-course meal accompanied by wines and digestifs at the end. The train is usually moving during lunch so it’s really a nice experience to view South Africa from an elegant restaurant car while having lunch and lots of good South African wines.
SIGHTSEEING IN KIMBERLEY
On this last trip, we arrived at Kimberley, the capital of the Northern Cape, just after lunch. So we had the afternoon to explore the town. The Blue Train organised an interesting excursion to The Big Hole, which is the famous diamond mine of South Africa. It is perhaps the top attraction in Kimberley, if not in the entire Northern Cape.
The Big Hole in the Northern Cape used to be owned by the De Beers diamond company and now it is a museum. You can also still buy diamonds from a shop on the premises in Kimberley.
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DINNER ON THE TRAIN
We returned to The Blue Train after sightseeing in the Northern Cape just in time for afternoon tea. The bar car is set up prettily for afternoon tea with cakes, fruits and scones. Then there’s just enough time after tea to relax a bit and then start dressing up for dinner.
Dinner on The Blue Train as it passes through the rest of the Northern Cape is formal so most of the guests come in elegant attire. The men are in suits while the ladies are in dresses or long gowns. The meal is formal as well, and everything is delicious.
After dinner, you can retire to the lounge for drinks and music, or head on to the end of the train where there is a quiet sitting area and a casino that uses play money. Making bets at the casino was surprisingly enjoyable — after all, how many people can say they gambled on a train?
WHERE HAS ALL THE TIME GONE?
All too soon, the journey on The Blue Train comes to an end. At the start of the trip, some guests worry about making such a long trip on a train.
“What will we do with all this time?” They say to each other. But time really goes so quickly and soon the train is pulling up to its final stop and passengers are all bidding each other farewell and safe journeys.
Read more stories about traveling by train in South Africa in Travelife Magazine.