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Knowing how much George enjoyed the Eastern and Oriental trips to Thailand and Myanmar, Ruth decided to take him on the E&O's last trip in this region, the train voyage in Australia. Checking online, she discovered that travelers leaving on September 9th would get two-for-one tickets; this date was perfect since this was just about the only time that George's teaching allowed us to travel. She then took George to Singapore Airlines PPS Centre and arranged to use our frequent flier miles to book a trip whose total cost ended up about 25% of list -- or so we thought; it in fact ended up costing much less, as you'll see when you catch sight of our surprise accommodations on the train.
Left two: Our only two pictures from Brisbane, a lovely city -- the view from our hotel window and reflections of the river. After breakfast, before leaving for the train, we took a brief walk and saw how beautiful the city is, but we didn't have the camera with us and didn't have time to return to the room. Right: a watercolor map of our route, which we found in our cabin at turn down.
Taking a taxi from the hotel, we expected to have a very short ride, but it took three tries (at the same station) before our cabbie got us to the correct platform. Left: Ruth shows our tickets at check in; the waiting room, where we were served tea, is behind her. Middle: Not our train but a moving museum display that was opposite the check in. One car was fully occupied by an N-gauge model railroad of this area of Australia used to show the effects of electrification. Right: Rebekah, who was also our wait person at dinner, leads is to the train. When we were the first to be taken on board, I thought something might be up but couldn't guess what it might be.
Left: The train crew (including saxophonist) waiting to greet the passengers. Kate, the maitre d', stands at left, next to the chief cook. Dave, chief steward, is left of the saxophonist. Middle left: The corridor outside our room. Middle right: James, our wonderfully helpful cabin steward. Right: Why we were led on board before anyone else -- as old loyal customers of the Eastern & Oriental, we were upgraded to one of the two special rooms, each of which occupies half a car: ours was G2. The other was empty. Here George enjoys the splendiferous double bed!
Left: Ruth in one of the two Victorian-style chairs at the table where we "took" breakfast and tea. Middle: Details of the ceiling, including the chandelier, stained glass window, and painted pressed-tin ceiling. Middle right: Details of the window. Right: The three kinds of compartments from the brochure.
Left to right: The main dining car, the observation car, and George at the back of the open deck on the observation car.
Left: Outside Brisbane, from our room. Middle: Ruth windblown on the observation deck. Right: More scenery on the way down from Brisbane.