Who's got the most enviable passport? Bond, James Bond
Lisa Monforton, Calgary Herald
Published: Friday, November 21, 2008
James Bond has been an indefatigable globetrotter for 46 years, jetting about like a man with a golden credit card. If he were a mere travelling mortal, he'd have racked up a stratospheric number of air miles. But in Bond's reality, sometimes the world of air travel is just not enough.
When duty calls, flying seems so pedestrian and not nearly as arousing as touching down in a parachute, rocket, speed boat, yacht, Bentley or Aston Martin.
After all, the four Bs of Bond filmdom are built on the exotic - babes, bad guys and ballistics. Those backdrops have included Istanbul (From Russia With Love, The World Is Not Enough), Corfu (For Your Eyes Only), Tangier, (The Living Daylights), and Iguazu Falls (Moonraker). For the record, even Canada's glorious north has had two cameos: Baffin Island and Auyuittuq National Park in The Spy Who Loved Me.
But Bond has not been so worldly in every movie. The least travelled Bond in the 22-film franchise is Sean Connery's virgin Bond film, Dr. No. A mere three shooting locations were used, one of them the MI6 headquarters in London, (filmed at Pinewood studios) and then a North American itinerary that only touches down in Kingston and Crab Key, Jamaica.
Font:****Quantum of Solace out-jet-sets them all with locations on three continents and in six countries: the U.K., Austria, Chile, Italy, Mexico and Panama.
Even though you may not aspire to travel like 007, why would you want to? Though he gets to go to some of the most fabulous places on the planet, he barely gets a moment to swallow his expertly made cocktail in a swanky hotel before he's free-falling through glass ceilings. This Bond travelogue, based on locations in the Quantum of Solace, offers adventurous sightseeing suggestions, must-sees and the chance to do something Bond doesn't often get to do: savour the scenery.
You don't need to do much reconnaissance to visit Bond's London headquarters, also the birthplace of his creator Ian Fleming. VisitBritain.com has devised clever ways to live the spy life. Choose from three itineraries: James Bond's London, which includes jetting on a speedboat up the Thames, oysters and cocktails at Scott's, (a posh little brasserie in the tony neighbourhood of Mayfair), a visit to Harrod's and the Imperial War Museum. The museum is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Ian Fleming's birth in an exhibit entitled For Your Eyes Only, which includes keepsakes, such as Daniel Craig's blood-stained shirt from
Casino Royale, manuscripts and other memorabilia. It's on until March 2009.
If you'd rather try to look and smell like Bond from head to toe, take some fashion cues from the folks at visitbritain.com. They divulge London's most venerable barbershop, Truefitt & Hill, the oldest barbershop in the world whose barbers have shorn the locks of rock-stars and royalty alike. Of course, you'll be shopping at
Harrod's for Tom Ford suits (who Craig commissioned for all of his clothing in Quantum) and visiting the Floris perfumery, mentioned in several of Fleming's novels. A visit to Church's shoemakers will have you properly shod in the tradition of several Bonds.
For details, go to visitbritain.com/007.
Puccini's Tosca is centre stage at the Bregenz Festival, while Bond spies on Quantum's head honchos on the city's beautiful floating stage with a weird, huge blue eye dominating the set.
In real life, Bregenz is an idyllic medieval city, located on the shores of Lake Constance, with green rolling farmland and the Alps framing the entire pretty picture. The city is known for its lively theatre scene and the floating stage, where opera and theatre performances take place during the annual summer festival.
Next summer, the festival will stage Verdi's Aida (July 23 to Aug. 23), performed by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. There are about 20 hotels if you want to stay, but it's a short drive to Salzburg, Vienna or Zurich.
While in Bregenz, take the gondola up Pfander for magnificent views of the Swiss Alps and Lake Constance. Or hop on one of the many pleasure boats plying the waters, then spend the night at one of the casinos playing poker a la Bond, Vesper Martini in hand.
Party in Siena
Bond clambers through cobblestone alleyways and over rooftops and terraces in an attempt to get the bad guys, in Siena, Italy, all while the Sienese horse racing tradition called Palio di Siena is kicking up dust in the background. Never mind getting revenge - regale in the 300-year-old adrenalin-pumping Il Palio, as it's known locally.
This raucous party, July 2 and Aug. 16, pits 10 bareback horseback riders, representing 10 city wards against each other in a race that lasts for a grand total of about 75 seconds. Dressed in reds, greens, blues and yellows, depending on the ward, the riders round a dirt-covered track at breakneck speed while cheering spectators jam the central piazza. Before and after parties go on for sometimes weeks. Better get your tickets early; they're often sold out eight months in advance. (email@example.com
For a more sedate stay, steer clear of the festival and visit the Piazza de Campo after the dust has settled. You can climb the Torre de Mangio to see the pretty rooftops Bond raced across.
You'll be doing what Bond would rather be doing at the Grand Hotel Continental in Siena, which is offering a James Bond Siena package until March 31, 2009. It includes buffet breakfast, in-room champagne the first morning of your stay, a guided visit to the "Bottini" underground waterworks and city sites in the film, martinis for two at the hotel's Sapordivino Winebar for two and one four-course dinner for two in the private Wine Cellar. Depending on the room, prices range from $1,900 to $2,600. You're on your own when it comes to overnight guests.
Atacama Desert, Chile
If your tastes run to extremes, like inhospitable desert climates, you might enjoy visiting the Atacama Desert, the scene stealer in the third act of Quantum. The Atacama is a narrow, 1,000-kilometre expanse running up the Pacific coast of Peru into Chile. National Geographic gave it the dubious title of the driest terrain on the planet. There has never been a recorded drop of moisture, but somehow a million people manage to eke out an existence here. At press time, there were no vacation packages, only information as sparse as the desert itself, and mostly written by gonzo travellers.
Check out world66.com for travel details and places to see and stay. If you're an astronomy buff, Atacama has some of the world's largest observatories for stargazing due to it clear skies at least 340 days a year. Cerro Paranal Observatory is featured in Quantum and does offer tours two weekends each month. (eso.org/paranal)
San Felipe, MexicoBond doesn't land here for a little beachside R & R, rather opting to nip in on an antiquated DC 3. San Felipe is best known for its laid-back vibe, with an enviable location on the sandy shores of the Sea of Cortez in the Baja. The sleepy fishing village is truly a place to get away from it all, including the bad guys.
Not served by an airport, most people get here by driving. It's famed for its busy highways come November, filled with snowbirds hitting the road in their RVs to settle into town for the winter. It's a five-hour drive from San Diego, and about seven from Arizona.
The beauty of San Felipe is its dreamy un-Bond lifestyle and its setting, with a not so Bond menu of giant shrimp, margaritas and cervezas. For more information, check out sanfelipe.com.mx
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