September 26 – October 3, 2018
A crime novelist excavating an ancient civilization, a committee of art historians gathered to identify the paintings of a great artist, and a Renaissance painting suddenly vanishing from the walls of a museum. Each scenario comes to life on this new mystery lover’s program focused on famous detective novels and novelists, as well as real-life art theft and forgery. At the heart of the program is a memorable overnight journey from London to Venice on the iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express!
Day 1 — Depart the U.S.
Depart the U.S. for London Heathrow.
Day 2 — London
Arrive in London and transfer to your hotel. This evening, meet your fellow travelers and expert at a welcome reception and dinner. (R,D)
Day 3 — London
Begin the day with a walking tour in the footsteps of Agatha Christie’s London. See the former premises of the Detection Club in Chinatown, continue into the West End theater district, and see the Agatha Christie memorial. See the theater where “The Mousetrap” has been performed. This murder mystery play by Agatha Christie has been running since 1952, and is the longest running West End show. At the British Museum, wander through the Mesopotamia Gallery on an exclusive behind-the-scenes visit. The gallery showcases letters, photographs and notebooks relating to Agatha Christie, including displays from the Mallowan excavations. Later visit The Middle Temple Hall, one of the four ancient Inns of Court in the heart of London’s legal quarter that was featured in “The Da Vinci Code.” Tour the Inn, followed by tea and biscuits. Conclude the day with a reading and discussion with one of London’s contemporary crime writers. The evening is at leisure, perhaps to catch a showing of “The Mousetrap.” (B)
Day 4 — London
A guided tour of the National Portrait Gallery focuses on the collection of Italian Renaissance artists, including Titian, which has often been the focus of art theft. In the evening, meet Detective Superintendent Richard Ellis, formerly of Scotland Yard, for a discussion on “The Fine Art of Crime.” Ellis, a member of the Art and Antiques Squad in New Scotland Yard during the mid-1990s, will talk about some of the great art theft recoveries of the time. The remainder of the evening is on your own. (B)
Day 5 — The Venice Simplon Orient Express
Board its sister train, Belmond British Pullman Victoria Station in London, the traditional starting point for journeys to the Continent. As you travel through the lush Kent countryside, enjoy the silver service and Brunch with a Bellini. Cross the English Channel via the Channel, then board the distinctive carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in Calais, France. Settle into your private cabin aboard one of the meticulously restored railway carriages from the 1920s and 1930s, each with its own romantic and mysterious story. This evening, dress up for your delicious four-course dinner and dine amid fine linen, crystal, and gleaming silverware and imagine the golden age of travel captured in Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” Retire to your cabin which has now been transformed into a cozy bedroom or enjoy the atmosphere and drinks in the Bar Car ‘3674’ as the resident pianist plays the baby grand. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Venice
Awake to the dramatic panorama of the Swiss Alps as you enjoy a leisurely continental breakfast. Later, join your expert in the restaurant car for a talk on the art of the detective novel while enjoying the spectacular scenery of the Italian Dolomites. Three-course lunch is served in the restaurant car whilst hot beverages and cakes are served in the afternoon in your cabin. Arrive at Santa Lucia Station in Venice in the late afternoon. A private motorboat transfers you to the heart of Venice. This evening, meet a local expert for a special after-hours visit to St Mark’s Basilica. View the glittering 12th-century mosaics covering the walls and ceilings, and examine the golden treasures brought to Venice after the sack of Constantinople in 1204, evidence of the long tradition of “stolen” art. Enjoy privileged access to parts of the Basilica that are normally closed to the public. Dinner is at your leisure. (B,L)
Day 7 —Venice
Explore the mystery landscape of Venice on foot, as a local expert leads you through the alleys of Venice to the Frari church to see Titian’s “Assumption” and the “Pesaro Madonna.” Walk to the nearby Palazzo Mocenigo, reminiscent of the Marchesa’s palazzo in Iain Pears’s novel “The Titian Committee.” The afternoon is free for independent exploration. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner at a Venetian restaurant. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Depart
Check out of the hotel and transfer to Venice airport for individual flights back to the US. (B)
Hotel Royal Horseguards
Located in Central London overlooking the River Thames, this five-star property is a prime example of a refurbished Victorian building. There is a fully equipped gym, and free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
The world’s most celebrated train, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express carries passengers in the style of a former era. The journey across Europe aboard the restored original 1920s and 1930s carriages exudes luxury and allows passengers to experience the golden age of travel during the trip of a lifetime.
Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal
Located on the Grand Canal just steps away from St. Mark’s Square. This five-star property offers the perfect blend of Venetian luxurious elegance with a contemporary feel. Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.