This morning we were collected from the hotel and taken to the Railway Station or rather to the Rovos Waiting room at the main Cape Town Railway Station. It was nothing like a British Rail waiting area.
We were greeted with sparkling wine, coffee and sandwiches(crusts off naturally) and were entertained by a string duet. Mr Rovos greeted each of us personally and told us about the journey ahead. Put simply you can ask for anything and it will be done for you. My strange eating habits required a special visit from 3 of the kitchen staff to ensure that they knew me and that they didn’t serve me with anything I might find even slightly objectionable.
The train carries 42 people, mainly English, a few US and a couple Australians There is only one rule: No mobile phones, ipads or computers in the public areas. Only in private and between consenting adults! I am lurking in my cabin/coach to write this. We are still travelling through the outskirts of Cape Town.
Lunch was an excellent 4 course meal with the appropriate wines served with each course. I needed a sleep to follow. We spent the afternoon travelling through the Karoo. It is a vast area of mainly open fairly flat land. Some farming but mainly just wild and open. We stopped for an hour at Matjeisfontein which is a small village fairly undistinguished. I have taken no photos because nothing much of interest photographically speaking. I couldn’t face afternoon tea served in the observation car and although I dressed for dinner, as did everyone the sight of food was positively repellent. I returned to my cabin for an early night.
The train is the main talking point. It is an unreal sort of experience because the service is that of a five star hotel but one is still travelling on a train. I have my own en suite bathroom and a king size bed but apart from the bed everything is sailing boat sized. Plenty hot water in the shower but one has to pump the tap in the basin to get even a trickle.
The train continued to travel throughout the night, not the most restful night as the track leaves a lot to be desired and it is a fairly bone rattling ride despite the luxury! We have been stationary in the middle of nowhere for nearly two hours. I suspect a problem with the engine.
Our locomotive will have to be changed as the power supply changes from AC to DC a little further along the route. Finally the problem was sorted but we have lost 3 hours(all part of the adventure of travelling in Africa. In order to get to Kimberley before dark we are going to be met and taken to Kimberly by bus. We had to cross the railway line to reach the bus.
Kimberley proved to be a bit like the ghost towns that one sees in California. The diamonds have been virtually played out and the biggest industry is tourism. If any of the ladies on the train expected to be dazzled and possibly treated they were disappointed. All the diamonds on show were glass imitations.
The last stage of our journey, we were joined by a steam engine belonging to Rovos Rail in order to be taken to the Rovos station here in Pretoria.
Some hotels provide a turn down service, some provide a chocolate on the pillow, Rovos Rail provide Champagne! Rovos claim to be the most luxurious train in the world! It could well be true!