Bruno Janssens, Train Manager of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, offers a glimpse into his life on board.
Train Manager Bruno Janssens (pictured with colleagues, on the right) has the perfect pedigree to work aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
He was born in Liège, the Belgian city that also gave us the splendidly-named Georges Nagelmackers, founder of the Wagons-Lits company of luxury sleeping cars. Now Janssens spends his working life in carriages still decorated in the blue and gold livery introduced by Nagelmackers in 1876.
After growing up in Belgium, he went to the USA to study, and began his career on the front desk of one of our company's hotels. He then moved back to Europe and started work on the train 11 years ago.
"I couldn't have a more spectacular working environment," he says. "Quite apart from the train itself, the constant change of scenery and weather is amazing. We might set off from Venice through vineyards and orchards in glorious sunshine, and by the time we arrive in the Dolomites and the Alps, it's snowing and all the mountains are white. I look out for sights such as the Olympic ski jump as the train passes Innsbruck and love travelling along Lake Zurich on late summer nights."
Special occasions that he remembers aboard the train include when a famous actor and his family travelled north from Venice. At first the actor was reluctant to leave his cabin, and asked to be served lunch and dinner there. Sorry to think he would miss out on the train's fabulous dining cars, Janssens managed to coax him out. "He absolutely loved it and then went on to the bar car and had a blast. His manager called me afterwards and said he'd had the trip of a lifetime. He couldn't remember being so relaxed and having such fun."
When asked to cite his favourite routes, Janssens doesn't hesitate: "The Signature Journeys to Istanbul and to Krakow/Dresden. They're longer than the regular Venice/London ones and passengers really bond with one another. In fact, they are often in tears when the journey comes to an end."
View the conversation that took place when Bruno joined us for a live chat on August 30th 2011 below.
The best question received a US$250 voucher towards a journey or stay with Orient-Express, and became 'Editor's Choice'.
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