Train manager Bonga Mhlonga welcomes us with a briefing about The Blue Train’s journey from Cape Town to Pretoria. While most of our fellow passengers sip genteelly on champagne and orange juice, in the Blue Train lounge at Cape Town station, I’m so jittery my coffee is shaking out of the cup. There is a very good reason why The Blue Train offers overnight accommodation at the Taj Hotel in Adderley Street as part of its package — to avoid the stress of getting to the station for an 8am check-in before the 27-hour northbound journey. We were so late that the train’s management called to find out where we were. After the urban decay flanking the tracks in the city has been left behind, the views of the Boland mountains, vineyards and farms that meld into the wheat fields of the Swartland are stupefying through the giant picture windows of our wood-panelled suite. The especially beautiful Hex River Valley is our view while enjoying brunch in the elegant dining car in one of two sitting...

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