Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Holiday Express - Experience

A few weeks back I was invited along with a group of other media personnel to experience the Holiday Express train. As stated in my initial blog post, there is a certain stigma that is associated with using Public Transport in South Africa, there is a general fear of using it and the number one factor is safety. I guess this is one of the reasons we were invited to experience the Holiday Express, to help alleviate this fear from many by telling you about our journey. There were two options available for the weekend, Saturday's trip was a journey to Shongweni where you would visit the farmers market or on the Sunday was a trip to Scottburgh to enjoy the sea side. I opted for the Shongweni Journey as I always wanted to go to the Farmers Market after hearing rave reviews about it. 

I took my mom along with me, as she would love the Farmers Market in Shongweni but also as a child she used to travel by train quite a lot going from Durban back home to her family in the Northern Cape. We both were equally excited for the journey that lay ahead. Upon arrival at Durban Station, we were greeted by our friendly host, the Business Class lounge at the Station serves as a waiting area till you depart on the train. There were beverages and snacks available for purchase as well as tokens that you could use on board the train. Just before 8am we made our way down to the platform to board the KZN Business Express coaches. The coaches are very different from the normal ones, with large cushion seats which can recline, have arm rests and have fold up tray tables in front of you. It was my first trip in Durban on a train so I was looking forward to viewing the city from the rail way tracks. 

The route is slightly different from the main line as it meanders it's way through the city, going through the Jacobs area before turning up towards Queensburgh and Shallcross. Making its way through Marian Hill before reaching Shongweni. During the ride, I took time to explore the other coaches, and I was surprised to find one coach having a bar with light refreshments and snacks, and further back another coach with a full size board room table and kitchen where hot refreshments were served. Along the route there were many tunnels which the train went through, which we all loved going from daylight to darkness and daylight again. The train also makes a stop just before Shongweni to view a waterfall which is only accessible via rail. Even though the total time of the journey took one and half hours, one doesn't really feel it that long with so much to see along the way. 

Once we reached Shongweni Station, it was time to disembark and board the buses that were waiting for us. A short 5 minute drive and we were at our destination, the Shongweni Farmers Market. The market was a buzz of activity, with stalls selling everything and anything, from plants, to fresh produce, crafts and not forgetting, plenty of food! Most of us had built up and appetite by now but were spoilt for choice at the selection on offer. Everything is fresh, tasty and smelt delicious, it's a pity our stomachs could handle only a certain amount of food as I'm sure I speak for all when I say we would have loved to try everything on sale! With the market closing at 12 o clock, we had to be back on the bus by 11.30am, which was ample time for us to enjoy the markets sights and scenes. Once back at the station it was time to make our way back home. 

The journey back, even though using the same route proved to be equally exciting, as you were heading in the opposite direction and gave you saw things that you didn't see on the way there. Once safely back at the station, I asked some of the other travelers what they had though about the experience. Many said that they had booked it mainly for their kids but didn't anticipate themselves having so much of fun as well. It really is a wonderful way to explore and experience this magnificent province and no matter which destination or trip you chose, it's bound to be an out of the ordinary experience for the entire family. The next trips are planned for the 30th of September to the Shogweni Farmers Market and the 1st of the October to Socttburgh. For more information, visit the website www.theholidayexpress.co.za or to book, email info@theholidayexpress.co.za

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