Take the A-train to Durbs
THE safety of my possessions and small passageways were the least of my worries on my bumpy luxury train ride to Durban. In fact, the bumpiness served as a great lullaby that could put me to sleep.
Being a health-conscious buff, my wellbeing would always be at stake.
But the general cleanliness was impressive indeed.
Sleeping with rather crisp clean sheets was a difficult proposition. They were warm and comfortable of course, but I couldn't stop thinking about all the other people who have used them before.
The convenient and innovative basin hidden below the retractable night-table was one of my worst discoveries.
I couldn't stop wondering where the water came from. I only used it to shower and wash my hands before applying the hand sanitiser.
The communal toilets and showers available at the end of each carriage were decent, but as it is like on any camping trip, we had to be slick to get a turn at it, before the hot water ran out.
Although ever-smiling waitresses saw to our every whim, the food was okay but not at the least my favourite part of the trip.
Truth be told, the food had some serious after-effects.
I do have a sensitive stomach and had to visit the doctor a week later when the stomach pains wouldn't subside.
Keeping more bottled water in the rooms would have made the journey more comfortable and saved me a medical bill.
However, among the perks of being a "VIP" passenger included a welcome drink and snack bar with couches and uniformed waiters on call.
Prior to us being directed to our cabins, crew members carried off our luggage and neatly placed it on top of our beds as marked on each sack. The train took off not too long after the scheduled time.
Crisp white linen, towels, bathrobes and slippers added a touch of brightness to the small cosy room. Be that as it may, the slippers were big - if it's a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, they should consider women's feet.
Each cabin boasts two single beds. For those who prefer to relax in their cabins most of the journey, the blankets can be packed away, and one can have the beds rearranged to create seating place big enough for at least two people.
Luckily being short, I was not bothered by the low ceiling in the corridors. The same can not be said of the taller people, who I saw slouching around.
Room service was also on offer from a telephone on the wall at the door. Ours wouldn't work but for the electronic gadgets that offered similar aspects, a plug was available for keeping them powered up.
A smoking lounge is conveniently placed near the party area, along with a residents' lounge right at the end of the train.
Each lounge has a bar and a big-screen TV, with a surround sound system for your listening pleasure.
The 15-coach train consists of six sleeping quarters that can accommodate up to 14 people per coach with windows big enough from which to stick out half your body for fresh air. The air-conditioners were more cold than refreshing.
The other carriages have facilities such as a car cabin which allows you to take your car along with you, at an extra cost.
Only eight cars can be accommodated in the compartment.
A conference cabin is equipped with a table, screen and projector and can seat up to 20 delegates.
Spa treatments with a variety of services on offer, adds to the high-class voyage.
The train travels from Johannesburg to Durban every last Friday of the month and returns the Sunday after that.
I am not a big fan of trains, especially commercial, but the Gautrain is my favourite, even if you cannot eat at the station or on the train. It's fast, comfortable and is not affected by traffic.
But who's in a hurry, when you can get all you need without having to stop to fill up.
You can do constant sight-seeing, take a random nap or refill your glass on a long journey. These sure are perks of long train journeys. I wouldn't mind paying extra for next time. But I might have to remember to leave my paranoia at home.
- Prices for enjoying this experience range from R990 to R2,500 per person for a single trip to Durban or Cape Town. Children aged one to 12 only pay 59% of the adult fee. Monnakgotla's luxury journey was sponsored by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa.