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Sneak peek: Once Upon a Time On the Orient Express in Singapore

Sneak peek: Once Upon a Time On the Orient Express in Singapore
PHOTO: Gardens by the Bay

Looking for something interesting to do this December? The Orient Express pop-up exhibition is in town at Gardens by the Bay — the first time it’s been outside of France. Ever.

A magical universe of travel, culture, and gastronomy, the attraction promises to transport you to faraway places, never mind the current restrictions on travel. Explore the luxury train on its reconstituted train platform, and learn about its storied history in showrooms full of giant travel trunks.

These include some 300 precious items and documents, some of which had to be carefully restored to their former glory and brought over from France.

The exhibition also includes a original locomotive built in France 158 years ago and a sleeper car from the 1930s, which was no mean feat to ship halfway across the world.

There’ll also be details like menus, cutlery, suitcases — everything one needs to relive the glamour of luxury travel in the past, or scenes from Murder On the Orient Express or From Russia With Love, if you so prefer.

Here’s a sneak peek of the actual exhibition, happening from 12 December 2020 to 14 June 2021. Tickets are $25/pax and $88 for a family bundle (2 adults and 2 children), excluding booking fee. Get yours from SISTIC here.

This locomotive, which you’ll see upon entry, is 158 years old.

You’ll also see that the facade of the tentage was designed to simulate the Gare du Nord station in Paris.

One of the first stops is the Pullman carriage, a first-class carriage from the train in 1920. This, together with the locomotive and other carriages, are considered national treasures of France.

The inside of the Pullman carriage features table settings that depict how wealthy travellers used to dine in the car. The carpet and interior are all original, though they had to be restored slightly to bring them back to their former glory.

A newspaper on one of the tables.

Replicas of artefacts on display in the cargo carriage.

You’ll see the oeil de boeuf, or bullseye, at the ends of the carriage. This was originally designed for ventilation, but has become an iconic symbol of the train.

This is an original oeil de bouef viewed from the outside. Isn’t it beautiful?

Next to that is a display of the tableware they used on the train.

Inside the rest of the exhibition, the artefacts and documents are on display in larger-than-life travel trunks. You’ll be able to see everything from the tableware they used, to maps and posters, to even a washbasin and sleeper bed from the actual train.

This washbasin from 1902 features intricate wooden marquetry and stained glass designed by Lalique.

The menu was usually written in multiple languages, since the travellers came from all over the world.

The LV trunks in the display are from 1918.

You’ll be able to experience dining in a luxury carriage, too, with meals cooked by a three-Michelin-starred chef. There’ll be only high tea served all the way till Christmas, and after that, lunch and dinner all the way till the exhibition ends in June.

The restaurant requires advance reservations, though, and no children under 12 are allowed.

Lunch starts at $188 per person.

The cafe has a variety of coffee blends, each inspired by different cities. You can stop by here without a reservation.

The cafe’s upscale feel was in part inspired by the luxury train.

What to expect

  1. Wear something light and bring an umbrella as you’ll have to walk some way in the open air from the MRT, drop-off point or car park. The exhibition itself is air-conditioned.
  2. Wear flats as you’ll have to climb up steep steps into the carriage.
  3. Carry a smaller bag if possible, as the train carriages are narrow and you’ll want to avoid hitting or brushing against the items on display.

The exhibition is on display at Gardens by the Bay West Lawn from 12 December 2020 to 14 June 2021. Tickets are $25/pax and $88 for a family bundle (2 adults and 2 children), excluding booking fee. Get yours from SISTIC here.

This article was first published in Home & Decor.

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