My long-anticipated trip on the Blue Train has begun. We pulled out of the Cape Town station at 8:52 a.m., bound for an arrival tomorrow at 12:50 p.m. in Pretoria. I am in Suite 22, a room which precisely matches my favorite falling-asleep imagined vision of the perfect train. The walls are a light wood with inlaid diamond patterns. The big window is so clean it doesn’t seem to exist. When I stepped into the suite, I found a plate of fresh fruit on the table, an electrical outlet, a TV now showing our route under the caption “Driving East,” and a spacious bathroom with shower. I have my choice of two large upholstered chairs — blue, of course — or a tan sitting chair on the other side of the table.
My butler knocked on the door and introduced himself as Brighton. He was working in hotels and joined the Blue Train staff just a month ago. He is from Zimbabwe. I can reach him by dialing 252 on my phone, and I already needed his services when I spilled some of my Aqua D’or bottle of still water on the table.
The ride of the train so far is unlike any conventional train I’ve experienced — smooth and nearly silent except for the air conditioning system bringing cool air into the suite from the ceiling. As we left Cape Town, I had a clear view of Table Mountain. Now we are moving slowly through an industrial area, still in the suburbs of Cape Town. I counted only about 25 passengers in the Blue Train Lounge prior to boarding, and there is only one sitting for brunch and dinner, so it seems as if we are carrying a smallish group.
Darlene, Deb and I left the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction in the same taxi this morning. They were headed to the airport and a South African Airways flight to Gaborone, Botswana. I will join them there, at the home of our friends Jim and Linda, tomorrow night, when I’ll arrive on a short flight to Gaborone from Johannesburg
It’s a brilliant, sunny day. I am smack dab in the middle of a personal dream, filled with gratitude and awe.