Sunday, 28 August 2011

26-8-11 When does a Journey begin?

Where & when does a journey start?
Is it the 13.17 from Wokingham to Clapham Junction that I've just got off or tomorows 12.55 Eurostar to Brussels. I never did take the 9.35 London train I originally intended a few weeks ago. I decided to stay overnight in London the night before taking the first train out of the UK because I think a journey starts when you say goodbye. For me its not a place or a time but when I make the emotional detachment from home - the final goodbye.

For more than a century the Goring hotel in London has been a traditional jumping off point for grand Orient Express tours around Europe so it seems an appropriate place to set off on a grand rail tour of half of the world.
After a century the Goring family still own & run their hotel but rather than running out of steam, they're still winning awards in 2011. Dinner was excellent but the lobster omlette & obscure English cheeseboard were masterful & truely memorable.

There are so many characterless hotels in London, even the 5 star luxury brands have an international uniformity that is essentially dull whereas the Goring is a complete one-off still retaining all the best of its unique Edwardian charm. Its the only family run 5 star hotel in London just few minutes walk from Victoria station & the same from Buckingham Palace. But I'm sure it was the style, personal ambience & service that attracted the recent royal wedding party to the Goring rather than the fact that it was - handy for the Palace.

I bet Agatha Christie stayed here before setting off on the Orient Express but today I seem to be the only guest setting off on a grand rail trip. Unfortnately the Orient Express isnt as regular as it used to be, so I have to trundle over to St Pancras & take the Eurostar to Brussels.

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