Hear the radio interview by Charmaine on Meridian FM

If music is the food of love …then Venice is the food of your soul!

I started my journey from London, following the tracks of the rich and famous on the VSOE – Venice Simplon Orient Express! You cannot help feel the excitement of the anticipation of what delights will unfold…the train itself is an historic masterpiece, the scenery of snow-capped mountains, tunnels and cuckoo clock houses, churches and steeples –it is like an enchanted glimpse into a story book before the scenery changes again!

I wondered what I would find to do, for two days on a train, and I armed myself with magazines, music and movies…but I need not have worried – my time was spent enjoying every minute – the delicious meals, the piano bar and the various stops en route, strolling the length of the platform and chatting to fellow travellers.

The Orient Express conjures images of luxury, romance and adventure – its history spans 100 years and, despite the wars and the coming of air travel – the Orient Express has held its reputation and popularity for the discerning traveller. It’s a journey to slow down your pace of life, take time to appreciate fine food and wine, make friends and enjoy conversations. Who was it once said “What is this life if, full of care, we have not time to stand and stare?”  William Henry Davies, of course.

From Santa Lucia Station in Venice, I left my comfortable cabin and joined the noise and bustle to transfer by boat to the Orient Express Cipriani Hotel. This is an appreciation of the culture and gracious life of Old Venice – across the lagoon, just a 4 minute boat ride, from St Mark s Square, the Cipriani is a haven of untold peace and quiet. Its beautiful gardens, serene pool and elegant lounges, bars and restaurants will relax and calm you – body and soul!

vsoe and venice may 2011 055

And you will need it! Venice is hectic sightseeing, map reading and queues. So be prepared and enjoy. There is no place like it – Venice is about 1500 years old, its centre of islands joined by bridges which form the whole. Its treasures are its architecture and, its most famous – the Palazzo Ducall or Doge s Palace and the Basilica di San Marco – the church in St Mark’s Square. There are dozens of churches all over Venice and each is filled with treasures.

The Square just throbs with tourists, vendors and street cafes …well, this is Italy, so people-watch with a large Gelato and a Latte!   There’s shopping – Gucci, Dolce e Gabbana, or markets and bazaars – there’s nightlife, live music, eating – fresh fish, pasta and risotto, museums and art galleries to explore, and all around Renaissance Art and architecture – to fill your tastes and your sensations.

The Canal Grande is the High Street – I went by Vaporetto (water bus) from Santa Marco to the Rialto Bridge. The canal is full of life – water taxis and gondolas criss-crossing our path, as we passed palaces and hotels and grand buildings along the way.
For that added final touch of romance…are you going to see Venice from a gondola? Ok, it looks like a cliché, the broad brimmed hat and blue striped sweater of your gondolier – but the view is amazing and the slow and graceful gondola travelling through the canals is something you can only do in Venice after all!

If you’d like to know more email me: charmaine@hallmarktravel.com

Meet me in the gallery!