Gigi Stoll: A Journey Like No Other (From Both Sides of The Camera)

We first met Gigi Stoll in New York City when we featured her as part of our Leica Portrait video series, then she sent us Letter from Kenya and now we find Gigi on the Orient-Express traveling through Europe and Peru.

I went on an audition in June for the Orient-Express. My agent told me that the job was for a short film aboard the luxury train. The client asked me if I liked to travel, and I replied that it was my favorite thing to do. In July I was hired for the role of Lauren, a very rich wife who travels the world with her family. Lauren is also a keen photographer who adores Leica cameras. A dream job since my real life is spent as a photographer in NYC. I don’t go anywhere without my Leica M9.

My first trip was aboard the Venice Simplon train, first class from Paris to Venice. We filmed until 4 a.m., so as not to disturb the 200 passengers aboard the gorgeous, half-mile long train. This was truly a luxury train adventure. The Orient Express also owns over 50 iconic properties around the world including Hotel Cipriani in Venice, where I enjoyed a spectacular suite for five days during our filming. My room opened to a garden with a private gate that led to the Olympic-size swimming pool. The suite was larger than my NYC apartment.

By September I was traveling to Peru. The first stop was Cusco, where we stayed at Hotel Monasterio, a former monastery and national monument dating from 1592. This delightful Orient-Express hotel combines its centuries-old charm and ambiance with luxury hotel service, inspired restaurants and boutique rooms and suites. The thin air tests your lungs at 10,800 feet of elevation, but the days are sunny and blue with no humidity. At night I was comfortable wrapped in royal alpaca wool.

Peruvian cuisine is quite the culinary delight, and walking through the old Mercado Central de San Pedro is a real treat. The meat section is not for the faint of heart, with all the different animal parts on display for dinner, but the food stalls and juice bars are packed with locals. My favorite fruit is the cherimoya. The fruit is fleshy and soft, sweet, white in color, with a sherbet-like texture, which gives it its secondary name, custard apple. I became especially interested in the hats that the Andean Peruvian women wear, a constant display of beautiful fedoras and suede bowler hats. I was told that it is possible to identify the village from which a woman comes from just by the type of hat she wears.

The locations were magnificent. We shot around the Andes Mountains and I met wonderful people in Chinchero and the Urubamba valley. Our large crew traveled with two llamas and a 1942 Adler motorcycle following us by truck wherever we went.

Our last location was Machu Picchu. We traveled first class aboard the Hiram Bingham train. We stayed at the Sanctuary Lodge where I had a private terrace overlooking the mountains. It was wonderful to have the Inca ruins all to ourselves when all the tourists were gone. I loved the early morning fog that enveloped Huayna Picchu (young peak) at 6 a.m. The wrap party on the return to Cusco was memorable. The train had wonderful resident musicians aboard and our team sang and danced into the night. Pisco Sours and a delicious five-course meal followed the party. Truly, a journey like no other.

-Gigi Stoll

For more photos from Gigi’s trip visit, ajourneylikenoother.com and www.orient-express.com. You can find more of Gigi’s work on her website, www.gigistoll.com and don’t forget to follow her on Twitter for the latest updates: @gigistoll.