In the days of yore when passports were rubber-stamped at the airport, few people could boast such an eclectic collection of foreign ambassadorial imprints as James Bond, secret agent, cocktail connoisseur and amasser of innumerable air miles. A recent study concluded that since 1962, Bond had visited 49 countries, several of them repeat visits.
When the series first began with Dr. No in the early sixties, the vast majority of the cinemagoers in the audience could scarcely dream of such widespread globetrotting. In the pre-package holidays era, the idea of jetting off to Japan and stopping off at Morocco on the way home, via Paris was pure fantasy unless you were either a multi-millionaire or Alan Whicker.
The glamorous travelogue aspect of the Bond films were an intrinsic part of its appeal. Even now, despite the comparatively inexpensive nature of world travel, a Bond movie is always a determinedly international affair. Often, the foreign location is the defining characteristic that stays in the memory, as with Octopussy (the one set in India) or On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (the one in the Alps with the St. Bernard dog).
For decades, Bond fans have spent small fortunes following in their hero’s elegant footsteps. It’s actually possible to take a much cheaper tour around the slightly less glamorous locations in the UK that the Bond producers managed to dress up as far flung countries. Want to see where Daniel Craig crashed his Aston in Montenegro? Head to Bedforshire. Fancy going to Azerbaijan like Pierce Brosnan did in The World Is Not Enough? Sorry, that was Hankley Common in Surrey. Even North Korea’s Demilitarised Zone at the start of Die Another Day was really the much less intimidating Aldershot in Hampshire.
However, for the most part the Bond movies don’t short change their audiences and for six decades they have brought the world into our cinemas and living rooms. Anyone wishing to emulate Bond’s travel habits might want to start in France. The Eiffel Tower is the most obvious port of call, scene of Roger Moore’s pursuit of Grace Jones in A View To a Kill, but 20 miles south of the capital you’ll find the stunning expansive, Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, ‘Californian’ home of Moonraker’s suave villain Hugo Drax.
Heading over to Switzerland, you can perfect your slalom technique (and your Australian accent) as you follow George Lazenby’s 1969 adventures in the snow-capped Bernese Oberland, even taking a cable car up to the Piz Gloria restaurant at Schilthorn’s summit. In the current climate Bond may well try out one of the new online casinos in Finland to get his fix.
A trip to Venice gives you three Bond films to tick off in one visit. It provided a suitably romantic climax to Sean Connery’s second film From Russia With Love, was trashed by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, and provided a rare glimpse of the lesser-spotted ‘double-taking’ pigeon in Moonraker. From there, you could short-haul it over to the Italian island of Sardinia, specifically Porto Cervo, where Roger Moore puts the underwater capabilities of his new Lotus Esprit to the test.
In Austria, you can emulate Timothy Dalton’s chaste pursuit of Maryam D’Abo on the Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel in Vienna’s Prater Park, or make a beeline for the Greek island of Corfu where most of For Your Eyes Only was filmed. A brief sojourn to Russia will allow you to guess which part of the tank chase in GoldenEye were actually filmed in St. Petersburg and not at Leavesden Studios near Watford.
Istanbul has proved a popular option for Bond location scouts. 007 has paid the Turkish capital a visit three times, firstly in From Russia With Love then at the climax of The World is Not Enough. Most recently Bond rather unceremoniously smashed up the Grand Bazaar with his motorbike antics in the breakneck opening of Skyfall.
The flight to India will allow you a decent amount of rest, unless you choose to go toe-to-toe with Daniel Craig in his in-flight Martini consumption – ‘six’. When you land, your main destination is the stunning city of Udaipur, specifically the Monsoon Palace where you can take your safari suit out for a spin as Octopussy comes to life around you.
The Far East has played house to James Bond many times over the years. He was even killed there (briefly) in You Only Live Twice. Himeji Castle in the Hyōgo Prefecture of Japan may look like a 14th Century fortress, but we know that it’s really Tiger Tanaka’s ninja training school.
The islands off Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay provided Christopher Lee’s titular Man With The Golden Gun with a lavish, exotic lair and so entrenched is the 007 connection here that Khao Phing Kan is more widely known as James Bond Island. Oh, and if the Saigon-set scenes from Tomorrow Never Dies seem familiar, it’s because they were shot in Thailand’s capital Bangkok.
Take a long flight across the Pacific Ocean until you see San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge hove into view. There you will see Roger Moore battling it out with Christopher Walken while a blimp explodes behind them. Bond has made a few appearances in America but his lengthiest stay was probably in A View To a Kill.
Elsewhere you could take the Diamonds Are Forever tour around Las Vegas (or check out Casino Bernie if you’re housebound), or take a speedboat ride along the rivers and bayous of Louisiana, Live & Let Die-style. Alternatively, you can head to South America instead. The cable-car that took Bond, Holly Goodhead (and Jaws) up to Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro is still taking Moonraker fans to the summit.
Mexico City provided the location for Spectre’s dazzling opening scenes. Mexico also doubled for the entirely fictional Isthmus City in Licence To Kill – Wayne Newton’s isolated retreat was shot at the Otomi Ceremonial Center, about 40 miles outside Mexico City. If you’re hoping to make a pilgrimage to Bolivia as a tribute to Quantum of Solace, you’d best head to Panama City, where the ‘Bolivian’ scenes were shot.
We’re reaching the end of Bond’s journey by the time we get to The Bahamas, where he saved the day in Thunderball and won his Aston Martin DB5 in Nassau. Appropriately, the tour ends in Jamaica, which has played host to several James Bond adventures, including his first, Dr. No – Ursula Andress’s Honey Rider emerged from the surf at Laughing Waters Beach and an icon was born. When No Time To Die does eventually make its bow in November – God willing – by all accounts it is in Jamaica that Felix Leiter finds Bond enjoying retirement, albeit briefly. Jamaica is also Bond’s spiritual home, as author Ian Fleming wrote all the Bond novels there at his home, Goldeneye in Oracabessa Bay. Having raised a rum punch in his honour, it’s time to head home.
We haven’t even got to Iceland (Die Another Day) or Egypt (The Spy Who Loved Me), but there’s only so much even James Bond can do. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to a round-the-world odyssey, there are plenty of UK based Bond locations to visit. There’s Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands, where Bond escaped with M in Skyfall, or why not play a round at Stoke Poges golf course in Buckinghamshire where Bond and Auric Goldfinger did battle back in 1964. If things are really tight, don’t forget, there’s always Aldershot!
James Bond will return, and he’ll be bringing his air miles card with him.