Pull off the busy Galway-Clifden road a few miles from the city and you enter another world. Ahead lies the expanse of Lough Corrib, an ever-changing vista that to-day is all
blue under a torn umbrella of dusty white clouds, but in an hour can be a shadow through the mist, evoking a Turner watercolour.
All around is a sloping golf course, dotted with green and buff sand traps, and overlooking all of this is Glenlo Abbey, which has retained its manor house style through its conversion into a hotel. Reception is a gentle process with a warm West of Ireland welcome. Door here and there lead to lounges, a bar or a billiard room. Somewhere upstairs there is a small cinema.
Our room overlooks Lough Corrib – and never has an Irish lake looked more serene and bright. Forget what RTE is forecasting. The rain has not yet arrived.
Armchairs in a bay window, Nespresso coffee, Galway cheese and biscuits. A tv which will not be turned on. Big comfy bed with White Goose pillows.
But that is not why we are here. We have tickets for the Orient Express Experience.
It starts at seven bells in the drawing room with a bespoke gin and tonic that has floating juniper berries and a dash of angostura. Then a silent whistle bids us to the Pullman Restaurant- two carriages which were once part of the Orient Express and were rescued from a siding in Britain. They checked our tickets with a vintage ticket punch and then sat us in the First Class carriage (where else?).