Okay, Geek Gals, here’s the truth — we’ll never get to ride the train to Hogwarts or take a week’s holiday in Rivendell. But that doesn’t mean we can’t visit Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station or visit Kaitoke Regional Park, N.Z. (the filming location for Rivendell). So, let’s get our geek travel on! Taking us around the world this month is international super-spy and ladies man, Bond — James Bond. A whirlwind trip of exotic destinations and lavish locations awaits us and James will be charging Her Majesty for our luxury digs and dishes.
First stop is, of course, London. While Bond is busy getting his directives behind M’s leather-padded door at MI6, now is a great time for us to tour the city. We could visit the usual sights but, in honour of our host, we’ll take a look at some of his more famous stunts. A pleasure cruise along the Thames is maybe more our speed, but we’ll cover a lot of the same water James did in the chase scene from The World is Not Enough. Also featured in the film is the Millennium Dome, now called the O2, which Bond slid down in the pre-title sequence. Before we head off to our next location, maybe we can convince Bond to stop at the Les Ambassadeurs, the filming location for the fictional club Le Cercle, where Bond first introduced himself in Dr. No.
Once out of London, we’ll cross the Channel to Paris, but we won’t be staying long in the City of Light. We have a train to catch, the Orient Express to be exact. Our trip from Paris to Istanbul will be the same route (except backwards) which Bond and Tatiana Romanova took to escape with the Lector decoder in From Russia With Love. Hopefully, our trip will not be interrupted by SPECTRE. Istanbul is one of James’ favourite cities, appearing in From Russia With Love, The World is Not Enough, and Skyfall. Visiting the Bosphorus is a given, but we should also stop at the Maiden’s Tower, where Elektra held Bond captive in The World is Not Enough, and Hagia Sophia, where Tatiana met Bond to defect.
No trip with James Bond would be complete without a little skiing. We should probably avoid being chased down the mountainside on a cello, as in The Living Daylights, but let’s check the powder on the slopes of the Swiss Alps, which feature prominently in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Later, we can visit the Piz Gloria, Blofeld’s hideout, which has been converted to a restaurant on the Schilthorn. If you enjoy the snow, but go in for sleigh rides and ice skating over avalanches, we’ll have James drive us to Cortina, on the Italian side of the Alps, where he and Melina Havelock went shopping in For Your Eyes Only.
When we’ve had our fill of snow, it’s time to relax in tropical luxury. Bond has two favourite sun and sand getaways, Jamaica (featured in Dr. No and Live and Let Die) and Nassau, Bahamas (Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Casino Royale). Both locations have lots to offer, but Jamaica was Fleming’s personal favourite, so let’s convince James to head back.
Montego Bay, Jamaica is where Bond met Quarrel and later Quarrel Jr. Father or son, Quarrel can take us by boat to Laughing Waters Beach, where Honey Ryder first emerged from the ocean. Later, we can visit the Falmouth Swamp Safari, otherwise known as the crocodile farm in Live and Let Die. Before leaving Jamaica, we should pay our respects to the author of all James’ wonderful adventures at Ian Fleming’s home, the Goldeneye Estate, located in Oracabessa. Other sun-soaked Bond destinations include the Lake Palace Hotel, in Lake Picchola, Udaipur, which served as Octopussy’s private isle in Octopussy. The plush Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel featured prominently in Goldfinger, as the site where Jill Masterson was painted gold.
And, of course, we can’t travel the world with James Bond without at least a little gambling. Over the years, Bond has visited many casinos — each with their own unique flavour, game, and danger. But let’s start at the very beginning, with Poker (or Baccarat, if you’re a purist) in Montenegro, where James goes all in against Le Chiffre (Casino Royale). Well, to be fair, we’ll have to head to the Czech Republic to relive this bit, at the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary, which provided the exterior shots for the Hotel Splendide. Though Montenegro is a beautiful country and has received a huge boost in tourism from the 2006 film, the locations were not suitable for filming. Regardless of which casino we choose, with a martini in hand, we can join in a round or two, or watch the stakes as Lady Luck.
When we’ve finished traipsing all over the globe, it’s time to go home and rest up before the next mission. Bond’s ancestral home in the Highlands is quite out of the question as it exploded in Skyfall and never existed in the first place. So, it’s back to Bond’s flat in London, which Fleming described as being just off the King’s Road in Chelsea. The two times we visit James’ flat in the films (Dr. No and Live and Let Die) these were built on the Pinewood Studios lot, which presently does not allow tours. I guess we’ll just have to settle for a swank hotel… or maybe Venice.