A week ‘on board’ The Orient Express
Each year, our residents enjoy a week of themed activities. This year, rather than taking to the water for a ‘cruise’, as we have done previously, we all ‘hopped on board The Orient Express’ for a rail tour of the imagination that took in Europe’s leading destinations.
Fortunately, on this occasion, there was no need for the services of Hercule Poirot, as the ‘journey’ was free from dastardly deeds and intrigue. It was fun all the way as we enjoyed a week of themed activities, dining and drinks linked to the countries we ‘visited’ – including an ongoing Guess The Distance competition to keep track of how far we had ‘travelled’.
There was also a daily news sheet to chronicle our time on board but, luckily, the Train Captain has given us exclusive access to his daily log, in order to give you an idea of what we got up to…
Train Captain’s Log: Day One: Monday, October 21
With a full complement of passengers, we have departed London on time. Ministering to spiritual needs, my colleague, the Rev. Tony Shutt, will be leading a service of Holy Communion in our Activities compartment to the rear of the train.
We have a full itinerary planned, so it should be a memorable week ahead with just a hint of luxury – the kind that only a train like this can offer.
Train Captain’s Log: Day Two: Tuesday, October 22
Today we arrive in ‘Gay Paree’. Paris is my favourite city and is sure to be a hit with our intrepid travellers.
Train travel can be arduous, however, so there will be exercises as usual, in case anyone intends to visit the Folies Bergère to try their hand at the ‘can-can’. The Wing compartment will also host a ‘Knit and Natter’ afternoon in recognition of ‘les tricoteuses’ – French ladies who gathered at the guillotine during the French Revolution to…you guessed it…knit and natter!
Train Captain’s Log: Day Three: Wednesday, October 23
Making good progress, we are now steaming through the Italian countryside of “fair Verona, where we lay our scene,” as Shakespeare said.
It’s 10am and our guests are currently partaking of morning coffee in preparation for the day’s entertainment. I understand there will be a tasting of Italian wines in the Wing compartment this afternoon, under the tutelage of a Ms Heather Dougherty – wine educator and 2018 Champagne Ambassador to the UK – who joined the train early this morning.
Train Captain’s Log: Day Four: Thursday, October 24
Our next stop is the beautiful Austrian city of Vienna – famed for its history, culture, and architectural splendour.
While there are the normal exercises to help passengers stretch their legs, all attention is currently focused on the evening which is to be spent in the company of Ms Sally Ann Shepherd and Mr Trevor Alexander who will offer a programme of Viennese music. I am looking forward to seeing everyone suitably dressed for a night at the opera!
My previous experience of these performers fills with confidence that everyone is in for a rare treat, and the restaurant car will be serving a delightful buffet supper, following the performance, to round off the evening in style.
Train Captain’s Log: Day Five: Friday, October 25
Today, we alight in our final destination – the romantic city of Venice, where our adventure ends.
The lure of the winding canals and the splendour of St Mark’s Square await. But before disembarkation, we will be screening the BBC’s informative documentary ‘Francesco’s Venice’ to prepare everyone for the delights ahead of them.
Descended from one of the oldest and most distinguished Venetian families, Francesco da Mosto explores the city with the forensic eye of a local, providing insight into its history and revealing its innermost secrets.
A manicure is also being offered to all our lady passengers, who may secretly be planning to attend ‘un ballo in maschera’ (a masked ball) before leaving this city of dreams.
All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable five days. Who knows where our next themed excursion will take us, but our ‘trip’ on The Orient Express will live long in the memory and will take some beating, next year; so, it’s time to get our thinking caps on!