Traveling back in time: Aboard the luxurious Belmond British Pullman train

Those who have read Agatha Christie’s novel Murder on the Orient Express (1934), will have a vivid mental image of the train I am about to describe: Art deco cabins with shiny polished wood, brass luggage racks, staff members in elegant hats, champagne bar, high-end cutlery and crockery for sophisticated dining.

These original Pullman coaches, dating back to the 1920’s, were bought and restored in 1982 by Belmond and further enhancements such as Art deco lamps, armchairs and electric heating were added. There are currently 11 original Pullman carriages, some of which were used to transport royalty.

On Thursday March 28th, I embarked towards Canterbury in Zena, one of those original carriages, built in 1928 and to my delight, used in the film Agatha (1976).

Once the train had departed, it was clear that the journey – and means of transport – would become as important as our destination, or perhaps even more.

I had made much effort, upon setting off, to keep in the present moment to enjoy every aspect, taste and image of this wonderful experience but instead, my mind was filled with euphoria and busy planning the future. Every bite of salmon brought me to the stories of my next book, every castle we caught sight of made me think of the new approach I’ll apply to my drawings and each background noise – cutlery, champagne hitting the glass and small conversation – mixed with my happy thoughts of the coming times. For some reason, I was strangely enjoying this journey both in the present and the future.

I am often asked why I won’t make an app of my books. The medium, dear traveler, should be as important as the destination itself.

You can book this train experience here. Tickets start at £312 per passenger.


17 thoughts on “Traveling back in time: Aboard the luxurious Belmond British Pullman train

      • An interesting question. Hmm. I did my first airplane flight when I was 6 months old, on a DC3 from India to Europe. Stops in Iran, Lebanon, Italy… Trip took 3 days. 🙂 And there is no other option for many trips. Asia? By plane. Problem is, air traveling has become soooo uncomfortable… 3 hours wait. Cramped space. Luggage restrictions… Security checks run by morons…
        Now, train? I traveled on trains a lot when I was in the army. Old-fashioned, clang-clang trains. You have time to see the landscape. The high speed trains are nice, but again, service has gone down. We once went in night train from Paris to Prague. Terrible. No restaurant car, can you imagine?
        So the answer is… it all depends on service…

        Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds really interesting, a well travelled man since birth! Your description about army trains really brought me there with you, even the landscape. How long was your service? Where were you? What about the landscapes?
        Traveling on a train with no food option sounds like half the fun was taken away from you hehe.


  1. Reblogged this on retireediary and commented:
    Reading Virginia’s post immediately tempts me to consider traveling on the Pullman’s train; makes me think of Agatha Christie’s Midnight Express and her other books and of course impressed by the niceties of everything on the train. . . . . .

    Liked by 2 people

      • I travel occasionally by train, and it’s been years since I did an overnight journey. Where I live it tends to be much more expensive for long trips than other modes of transportation. But that does not mean I would not try it in the future.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Are you still based in the US? If so, yes, traveling by train is the most expensive means of transportation. Also, the length of the journey matters greatly. One thing is to travel across Europe (always less than 3h journeys) and another is to travel for a day or more.


        • Yes, I live on the East Coast. I do wish that we had a better transportation system in the US. WE need it for ease and comfort of travel. More importantly it’s essential to ease the number of cars zipping up and down the highways and polluting the air.

          Liked by 1 person

        • That’s a very good point: congestion. On the other hand, the land is very vast and covering such distances with rail must be very very expensive. But I agree with you, cars pollute the air, can be uncomfortable and other (better) means could be promoted.


  2. From the table setting to the carriage’s design, everything looks gorgeous! I also agree that the medium itself is important. The feeling of holding a book, flipping through its pages is much different from reading on an iPad. It’s more intimidating, especially if you are the author of that book. The only inconvenience is its weight 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment made me smile, do you mean I am intimidating? I hope not hehe. I agree that the main (and big) inconvenient is the weight, my poor back suffers a lot as I always carry it, plus a notepad for sketches and the cameras – but it’s always worth it.

      Going back to the train question, do you travel much back home by train?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha I didn’t realise that I made a typo. I wanted to write “intimate” but somehow it turned into “intimidating”. What I meant is that the book is better connected to us than the iPad 🙂

        Nope I don’t often travel by train here. Though the service is not bad, it takes too much time. For short distance (<200 km), private cars or taxis are better alternatives.

        Liked by 1 person

        • hahah this is quite funny in fact. I thought to myself, why am I intimidating haha?
          Trains are highly dependant on the network, if the routes are not optimised, the journeys can take forever. But in a country with such a privileged geography, probably train transportation will take over as it improves with time? I lived in very different cities (Madrid, London, Chicago, Shanghai…) and it’s interesting to see that in some cities, I would never need a car.

          Liked by 1 person

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