Meals On Wheels Include Veal For The Genteel
In a world whizzing by ever faster, sometimes it does one good to take a break and step back into another era when the luxury of time was matched by splendid meals lasting for hours. Despite the mad rush for the world to arrive ever faster, or perhaps because of it, special rail experiences retain a strong hold on many travellers who prefer moving at a leisurely speed.
The Imperial Dinner Train is little known outside Austria and Germany, yet it offers the type of experience international travellers devour as readily as the hors d'oeuvres served on board this lovingly restored set of dining carriages. The train itself is the labour of love of a former Austrian Railways engineer who has committed his entire life to railway travel. Mr. Gerhard Rieck was one of those little boys fascinated by locomotives and the carriages they pulled. Basically, he never grew up in that respect; his love for rail travel is quite evident today, many years after his retirement—though Mr. Rieck's definition of retirement is to further nurture his beloved train.
The attention paid to the machinery is matched by the careful preparation of the food served on board, itself matched with fine Austrian wines, including an ebullient Schlumberger sparkler to start the evening in bubbly fashion. From the first sip, you know this is not going to be an ordinary dinner, nor an ordinary rail experience. There is a generally jovial atmosphere; the dinner train is most popular with local Austrians, Central Europe's bon vivants, who enjoy regaling themselves in their rich history—and rich cuisine—whenever possible.
This year's northern summer sees the train visiting Esterhazy Palace in the city of Eisenstadt close to the Austro-Hungarian border. The castle used to be on the other side of the border, but borders in Europe have a way of moving. The palace is, as expected, an impressive work of architecture, with rooms historically preserved to evoke the era of the House Of Esterhazy and its very famous musical director, one Josef Haydn, who toiled as a contracted labourer for twenty-eight years before gaining fame and fortune in London once his royal contract had come to an end. With 2009 as Haydn Year in Austria, this tour is already proving very popular.
As with any fine meal, this one was enhanced by the attentive service of unfailingly polite servers, mindful without being fussy, friendly without being forward. Given that serving food on a moving train is somewhat more difficult than navigating a stable floor, their aplomb is admirable.
The Majestic Imperator's weekly visit to Esterhazy Palace each Wednesday is but one of the travel experiences offered aboard its luxurious carriages. Thursdays, the train departs Vienna for Munich through Austria's breathtaking landscapes to arrive in the evening. Fridays, there is a similar dinner experience departing Munich to Fussel for a visit to Hohenschwangau Castle in the Bavarian Alps. The train then returns to Vienna on Saturday.
For corporate or private events, carriages or the entire train can be reserved. The Majestic Imperator also offers a unique imperial wedding experience to be married in style fit for the emperor and empress of the day, certainly one of the most special wedding experiences in the world.
Travelling to Vienna with Swiss International Air Lines will prepare gourmets for the royal treatment to come. Swiss Business and First Class cabins are famous for their Taste Of Switzerland menus featuring some of the only-in-Switzerland foods and wines that maintain the country's reputation for excellence in quality.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: R.L.B