This past weekend I found myself, as I often do these days, mingling with people twice my age, who have seen far more of the world then I have. The wife of a former professor of mine was turning 51, so on Saturday night I headed out to Gentilly for lick-your-lips-good grilled salmon, a pink three-tiered macaron cake, and plenty of Hello Kitty balloons (she’s a cat women to say the least, and definitely young at heart).
At one point before dinner, as we were sipping sparkling champagne and nibbling on some of the best cherry tomatoes I’ve ever tasted, I started swapping background stories with a friendly-looking gentleman. And what started out as a somewhat mundane conversation, exchanging names of faceless cities, quickly turned into one of those oh-so charming stories that I love oh-so much.
He pointed out his wife Bonnie to me, sitting ever-so coolly across the room, whose long legs were sporting animal print pants. I assumed the Franco-American couple had been married for quite a while – her coming to Paris in her twenties, falling in love with a French man, and never looking back – but it turns out my presumptions were only half true. While they met and fell in love in their twenties, the first time around didn’t last; she headed back to the States, and wouldn’t return for another fifteen years. It wasn’t until then, much later in life, that they found each other again, realizing they were just what each other needed all along.
So, what does this have to do with Rovo’s Rail you ask? Well, he was also telling me about their South African honeymoon, and how absolutely breathtaking the country is. They split their time between Capetown, the wine country, and a wildlife reserve, reminding me of this beautiful photo series by Misha Taylor. The series is a collection of photos that Taylor took with his girlfriend on Rovo’s Rail, a luxury 1930s locomotive that travels from Capetown to Pretoria.
Ever since watching Wes Anderson’s Darjeeling Limited, I’ve had the yearning for a cross-country train-ride on something that doesn’t resemble your usual, dull TGV. And this is just the train and view I’ve been dreaming about. Quaint villages and 1800s diamond-rush hotspots illuminate the glass windows while lounges, dining carriages and en-suite bedrooms impress with their 19th century antique furnishings. The photos effortlessly capture the classic luxury of the locomotive with the vastness of South Africa’s landscape, and have a certain sentimental mood to them that make you want to hop on the next Pretoria-bound train.