The schedule of a chartered excursion on the Blue Train is not public knowledge. Nobody should know when this famous train rolls out of Pretoria station on what is essentially a special occasion trip. And yet, as you travel towards the outskirts of Pretoria, you see them. The train spotters.
They have set themselves up alongside the tracks with tripods and video cameras for just this moment – the chance to capture one of the world’s most iconic luxury trains as it rolls past.
Such is the timeless appeal of a train that officially became known as the Blue Train in February 1946, when the world was still recovering from the horrors of World War II and this train carried with it the hope of a bright new future. And it has remained a bucket-list experience for travellers ever since.
This year, Africa’s most iconic train will be the start of a red-carpet journey to the Vodacom Durban July.
The Vodacom Durban July Red Blue Train Experience offers 10 Vodacom Red clients the chance of a lifetime to experience the five-star luxury of the Blue Train as they travel to Africa’s most iconic horse-racing event.
The winners of the Vodacom Durban July Red Experience will leave Pretoria station on Friday July 5 and travel in style overnight from Pretoria to Durban, with celebrities Maps Maponyane and Liesl Laurie as their hosts on this epic journey.
Once in Durban, they will be escorted to Greyville race course and the Vodacom Durban July on Saturday for a day of Vodacom Red VIP hospitality at the Vodacom paddock. And after the highs of a day at the races, they will retire to the elegance of this train for their luxurious journey home.
And they will be able to add their names to a list of notable Blue Train passengers including Nelson Mandela, Naomi Campbell, Quincy Jones, Mia Farrow, Paul Simon, Sir Nigel Mansell, Pieter Dirk Uys, Sir Elton John and Kylie Minogue.
What makes this such a unique experience is that in a world of luxury travel, the Blue Train still sits in a class of its own. Having the means to afford luxury travel is one thing. And yet travellers are not lining up for a trip on a Boeing or to drive to Durban in a luxury car. That’s because train travel represents the ultimate in luxury by the very nature of the time it requires.
The Blue Train is actually two trains, both of which were refurbished in 1997. What is known as the “long Blue Train” is 399m in length and comprises 19 carriages, and the “short Blue Train” is 294m long with 14 carriages.
Inside the Blue Train: The timeless appeal of train travel.
The beautiful interiors are the creation of the late American designer David Barrett, a man who started his illustrious design career as a 19-year-old private in the US army when he was tasked with decorating an airfield in northern Ireland for the arrival of Bob Hope and Vivian Leigh, who were to perform for the American troops stationed there.
Everything about the meticulously crafted interior as well as the attention to detail from the courteous staff, including your personal 24-hour butler, echoes exactly why the Blue Train has been voted Africa’s leading luxury train for 10 consecutive years by the World Travel Awards, and won eight world’s leading luxury train awards so far.
There are few travel experiences that can compare with sipping champagne in a bath in your luxury cabin while the magnificent South African countryside rolls by through the gold-tinted windows.
Time is the essence of the best train journeys, and this includes taking the time to dress up for a five-star dinner in the dining car and treat yourself to cuisine and wine that annually elicits the nod of approval from the Diners Club Awards. You can also take time to read one of the classics in the Observation Car at the rear of the train, which has large glass windows on three sides to offer guests the best view of the countryside. It’s also a time for such old-world delights as high tea, or cigars and cognac.
Time may well be construed as money in this fast-paced world. But true wealth remains having the time to enjoy the luxuries.
And the Blue Train is a monument to our constant need to remember where our true wealth in life rests.
Watch the video to catch a glimpse of what to expect on the Red Blue Train Experience to the Vodacom Durban July.
To stand a chance to be one of the 10 lucky Vodacom Red clients to win a seat on the Vodacom Durban July Red Experience, register before June 17 on redrewards.co.za.
This article was paid for by Vodacom.
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