On a rail less travelled

Have you ever felt as if you were sitting on a postcard that's in motion?

Have you ever felt as if you were sitting on a postcard that's in motion?

That's how it felt for my daughter and I when we woke up to a piping hot breakfast, courtesy of the Premier Classe longdistance train last week.

While most of my colleagues had opted to fly to the Tourism Indaba hosted by the warm city of Durban, we chose the rails less travelled.

The landscapes we have in this country call for some serious soaking in and what better way to do that than in a moving hotel that knows when to slow down?

If you disregard tourists who can be a downright nuisance with their clicking away at everything in sight, you will enjoy and marvel at the rare scenic views from this modern masterpiece.

We departed from the Johannesburg Station at about 6.30pm and were ushered to our charming rooms, to my little one's delight, where our luggage was already waiting.

"As a Premier Classe guest, you have the luxury of choice," says their pamphlets.

Guests have a choice between rooms that comfortably accommodates two, three or four guests, and rooms for the single traveller.

There's also an internal phone in each room, making it easy to contact room service.

Dinner was a small banquet with all the trimmings. By the time we finished our five-course meal, the only thing on everyone's minds was whether we would sleep soundly in motion.

But we were to be initiated into some serious nightlife. Right at the end of everything lies a new addition to this lifestyle - a disco with a bar and DJ.

Those who weren't babysitting had the time of their lives. And the catering staff knew exactly how to handle them with care.

Durban just never changes. I tell people that if I had left a R50 note on the pavement some five years ago, I would expect to find it there today.

And there emerged a familiar face, Mr Khan the caretaker of our Hertine Court student residence from 1994 to date.

The beach was in no good mood but Nandi still had fun picking up seashells and playing a hide-and-seek game with the waves. Kids never run out of things to entertain themselves with and, thankfully, most games on the beach are in full swing throughout the week.

Going back to the train after spending a day shopping and visiting the Tourism Indaba proved a bit confining.

Since most distant trains are bound to wait for hours in the station, you might need to take a nap during this time. W e did, only to wake up for dinner before retiring again to our cosy room.

When morning came we rushed for the shower. Soon we were having breakfast, filling up for a day of hustle back in Joburg.

The bustle drove all the joy away but not for Nandi, who had to be dropped off at school so she could tell her story to fellow toddlers and teacher Rita.

All parents should take their kids to Durban in this train, that's what I keep thinking.