The train departed at 15h00 from Pretoria however myself and the friend I was travelling with managed to get to Capital Park Station 12h30. When we arrived our bags where taken from us and a glass of sparkling wine was thrust into my hand. I had no idea that the glass would actually be stapled to my hand for the rest of the trip. We looked around the station which is owned by Rovos Rail and it was extremely interesting. After some light snacks and chatting with the other guests we where lead to our cabin.
The cabin was amazing, great linen and pillows and lots of space. Tanya our hostess (one of the sweetest people I have ever met) explained everything to us and once again opened a bottle of sparkling wine. The trained moved off from the station and our journey began. Tanya took our clothes to be pressed for the evening dinner and we retired to the observation car to relax and have high tea.
Dinner on the Rovos Rail is an experience and a half. Everyone dresses up and the minimum requirement for gents is a tie and jacket. After studying the menu and not being able to decide – Dewalt – our waiter suggested that we have both options on offer and we happily agreed. After dinner it was back to the observation car for a night cap. Everyone told me I would battle to sleep on the train but this was not the case. The swaying of the train puts you to sleep.
I was so happy when I woke up the next morning as I realized I still had another 2 days and 1 night to enjoy before we got to Cape Town. After breakfast we arrived in Kimberley and where whisked off to the sights of the historical town – there is really on one sight – the big hole, which was impressive. It was also with interest that I learned Kimberley was the richest city / town in the world from 1886 to 1895. It had the most millionaires (didn’t know you got millionaires in that time) than any other city / town in the world.
Back to the train for lunch and then we started our trip through the Karoo. The scenery was breath taking and for 4 hours I lay on my bed with the windows open looking at the open spaces and ghost towns that we passed. Unforgettable experience.
Dinner that night was another smart affair and on entering the dinner car all the men had roses pined to the lapel of the jackets. Some of South Africa’s finest wines where served however we decided to stick to the 2005 Meerlust Rubicon which tasted like velvet. By this stage you have got to know the other people on the train so dinner was extremely social.
The next day the train stops 5 km from Matjiesfontein and the guest are encouraged to walk – we choose to stay in bed however. Matjiesfontein is a quaint little town that you will get around in all of 5 minutes, but worth the walk.
Back on the train for lunch and during lunch – Eric, the train manager – advised us that due to a problem with a train in front of us we would be delayed for a couple of hours, we all nearly kissed him as what he thought was bad news, was the best news we had heard. A few hours extra on the train – I could not have been happier.
On arriving back in Cape Town it was with complete sorrow and tears that we got of the train. We begged Tanya to come home with us however she advised us that she would like to stay working for Rovos and we would have to pour our own drinks, get our own ice, press our own clothes, wash our own clothes, and make our own beds.
To Mr. Vos, Joy, Tanya, Eric, François, Adam, Dewalt and all the rest of the staff on board, a huge Thank you for and unforgettable experience. An experience that everyone should have before they leave this world. We could not fault a thing.