Time Travel — Sort Of

Have you ever wished that you could sample life in another era? The travel and hospitality industries have put their minds together to make your wishes come true. You can now live the best parts of those long gone days while still enjoying modern conveniences like indoor plumbing and twenty-first century electronics.

Trains – If you would want to travel on a train like the one in an Agatha Christie mystery – but without the murder in the next compartment – you should look into the Venice Simplon Orient Express (operated by Orient Express hotels). I have ridden on the contemporary descendant of the original Orient Express train; it still runs between Vienna and Budapest, but it is just an unremarkable train offering daily service, like Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited. But the V.S.O.E. is a luxury hotel on wheels with varied itineraries all across Europe. This train uses vintage carriages with accommodations and cuisine even better than the train of Christie’s inspiration. Staff in period costume are every bit as efficient and mannerly as you could hope for. The train travels by day and spends the nights stopped on a siding for the best sleeping conditions. Similarly inspired trains operate in Scotland, South Africa, India and Southeast Asia. I would be delighted to send you away on any of these journeys through time as well as geography.

Settle down with a mystery on the vintage Venice Simplon Orient Express.

Settle down with a mystery on the vintage Venice Simplon Orient Express.

Riverboats – The last of the authentic, original paddle wheelers is no longer traveling on the Mississippi River. The Delta Queen was our country’s only national historic monument cruising the rivers, until 2009 when Congress stopped giving this all-wood frame boat an exemption from modern safety standards. Now there is a newly built, traditionally styled paddle wheeler operating on the Mississippi and its tributaries. Running up and down the waterways of the heartland, the American Queen (launched in 1995) offers history buffs a taste of Mark Twain’s early years. Menus, accommodations and entertainment complete the sense of traveling through time to the 19th century, but the beds are comfortable, the spaces are climate controlled, and the boat meets modern safety standards.

Look right out at Old Man River from your deluxe Outside stateroom with veranda on the American Queen

Look right out at Old Man River from your deluxe Outside stateroom with veranda on the American Queen

Stately Homes – European castles strike awe in most Americans, if only because they are so old and expensive to create. Some of us have always wanted to live in a castle; I for one have always been clear that I would only want to live in one with central heating and modern plumbing. Life as it was really lived in the castles of the Crusaders holds little charm for me! Fortunately for us, many former castles of Europe and India have been re-designed to host modern travelers seeking a taste of the bygone era. The opulence, elegance, and sheer mass of castles and palaces once occupied by royals and their cousins are still quite evident in accommodations available to the public now. Spain and Portugal operate colletions of hotels they call Paradors and Pousadas respectively which are often historic buildings saved from destruction by being converted to hotels. In India, Taj Hotels operates a few former palaces in their original opulence. All around the world you can find individual homes which have been converted to welcome guests. Moving into one of these transports you away to a different time and a world where money was no object.  But now you can visit them with great climate control and internet access, but without having to entail your children’s inheritance!

Let me know if I can send you to spend a few nights in another world!

The Parador of Cardona, built in the 9th-11th centuries, is 85 km from Barcelona.

The Parador of Cardona, built in the 9th-11th centuries, is 85 km from Barcelona.

Boundaries divide. Travel unites.

6 December 2012

About Travel Unites

A travel agent since 1994, I want people to get together for greater understanding across boundaries.
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