By Joan Larsen, adapted from Chris Leadbeater, “Around the World with Every James Bond Film,” Travel Section, The Telegraph, October 24, 2015.
Spectre. The James Bond of old is back . . . achingly cool, tackling the action and the romantic scenes with an almost boyish relish that is – well, almost impossible to resist. I admit that I couldn’t. The dinner jackets never get old, do they, and the Alpine chase scene in this movie is going to be remembered forever. Prepare to be entertained. . . in a great fashion.
The Bond films with their awesome destinations have always stirred me to travel. And so . . . a look back at the places in our world that may make you – as well – want to reach for your passport and go!!!
1. Dr. No (1962)
Much of 007’s first escapade takes place on the north coast of Jamaica. . . and “the scenes” of Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in her white bikini at Dunn’s River falls near Ocho Rios would define Bond-girl glamor forever. Who will forget that scene? Author Ian Fleming’s home there is now re-imagined as a luxury hotel if you want to go first class.
2. From Russia With Love (1963)
Sean Connery’s second outing with the Berretta makes use of Istanbul and Venice. But the story accelerates in the moments set on the Orient Express.
3. Goldfinger (1964)
The third Bond film – a classic – is based around an assault on Fort Knox and its gold reserves, and thus plays out in Kentucky. The real stronghold appears on camera in exterior shots, while its biggest city, Louisville (Auric Goldfinger has a stud farm nearly) and Lexington (the “Horse Capital of the World”) also grace the screen.
4. Thunderball (1965)
A plot by crime syndicate SPECTRE involving stolen nuclear weapons brings Bond to the Bahamas for a film partially shot on New Providence Island – in its capital Nassau (where devices are hidden on the seabed), and at Love Beach (a quite memorable scene with the siren Domino).
5. You Only Live Twice (1967)
Japan provided the setting for the great car chase through the Akasaka district of Toyko and 007’s visit to a ninja training school that, in real life, is the 14th century fortress of Himeji Castle, near Kobe.
6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
George Lazenby’s one crack at playing 007 involves one of the most famous skiing “set pieces” in the Bond series, with the spy racing down from a snowbound bunker founded by SPECTRE supremo Ernst Blofeld atop Switzerland’s Schilthorn peak. The location is meant to be St. Moritz, but is actually the Murren ski zone in the Bernese Oberland, with its great summit restaurant reimagined as the criminal genius’s lair. (James Bond’s greatest moments on the slopes until now – and a don’t miss movie!)
7. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Another elaborate SPECTRE grand design involving smuggled gemstones and atomic weaponry has Bond prowling Las Vegas, staying at the Tropicana Hotel and searching for clues in the Circus Circus casino. (In a strip bulldozed with regularity, my long ago hideaway at Tropicana Hotel still exists!)
8. Live and Let Die (1973)
Roger Moore’s first shift in the lead role pins its tale of Caribbean dictators and voodoo to the fictional island of San Monique, but dips into the real world in Louisiana – where Bourbon Street revels in its “up-all-night” image, and Chartres Street hosts one of the dastardly Kanage’s heroin-dealing eateries.
9. The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
Christopher Lee steals the show as the titular assassin, but is ably assisted by Thailand, where the limestone islets of Phang Nang Bay – Khao Phing Kan (now commonly called “James Bond” island) – make a superb setting for his lair.
10. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
The plot line may involve an implausible “baddie” making mischief in an underwater “Atlantis”. . . but this movie takes Roger Moore to two of Egypt’s greatest sites – the vast religious complex of Abu Simbel on the banks of Lake Nasser, and its sibling, the Karnak Temple at Luxor (the latter, the staging a memorable scene where 007 and a female KGB agent track metal-toothed rogue JAWS between ancient pillars).
11. Moonraker (1979)
The main moments of this space-race tale have Bond journeying to Brazil to fight with the indestructible JAWS on the cable-car to Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro . . . before coming to a breathless “splash and crash” at Iguazu Falls (a “must see”) on the Argentine border.
12. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Two years after Moonraker, Bond was back on terra firma, chasing an old-school villain through Greece on a hunt for a submarine trigger system. Corfu featured heavily: the pretty village of Bouas-Danilia; the Achilleion palace, built for Austrian royalty in the 19th century; and the soaring bell tower of the Agio Spyridon church in Corfu Town.
13. Octopussy (1983)
Bond goes to India for this bout of cat-and-mouse with antique dealing malefactor Kamal Khan – tailing his target through Rajasthan. Udaipur shines on screen, particularly in the form of the Monsoon Palace, a jewel of a building created for the ruling Mewar dynasty in 1884. (When you go, don’t miss Jodhpur and Jaipur as part of your tour!)
14. A View to a Kill (1985)
Moore’s final assignment was to battle Christopher Walken’s enigmatic baddy Max Zorin – whose plans to destroy Silicon Valley found much of their momentum in San Francisco. The film’s fire-engine chase scene barged its way down 3rd Street Bridge and 3rd street, and – in the grand finale – Bond and Zorin fight to the death on the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge.
15. The Living Daylights (1989)
Timothy Dalton’s first appearance as Bond was a classic tussle with Russian spies that set much of its story in Vienna during the fading hours of the cold War. The Austrian capital showed its face via the likes of the Schoenbrunn Palace (a 17th century Baroque joy), leafy Prater Park and the Volksoper Opera House (pretending to be in Bratislava). (Vienna is a “must see”, never ever forgotten destination that I highly recommend!)
16. License to Kill (1989)
Dalton’s second outing in Bond formal wear pitched its struggle with a Latin drug lord in Mexico . . . but also found spectacular context in the Florida Keys, via Ernest Hemingway’s Key West. No one will forget the road trip on the Overseas Highway – with an armored car plunging splendidly from the road’s most photogenic stretch, the Seven-Mile Bridge).
17. Goldeneye (1987)
The Pierce Brosnan era arrived in style with a bungee jump down the Verzasca Dam in southern Switzerland. But Goldeneye asserted its post-Cold-War credentials with scenes shot in St. Petersburg – taking in the magnificent (must be seen) Hermitage Museum, the broad avenue of Nevsky Prospekt, and a tank chase that barreled along the Moika Canal.
18. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Brosnan’s battles with media mogul Jonathan Pryce blurred its Far Eastern coordinates (set in Vietnam, filmed in Thailand), but created one of the best car chases in the series in Europe, with Bond piloting a BMW around a multi-story car park in Hamburg by hand-held device, then smashing it thorough the meandering Moenckebergstrasse. The Galeria Kaufhof department store appeared on screen, while Bond rested his head at the Hotel Atlantic.
19. The World Is Not Enough (1999)
The final Bond film of the 20th century followed From Russia With Love back to Istanbul, flickering on both sides of the Bosporus via Maiden’s Tower – a really striking structure on a islet in the river – and on to the 19th century wonder of the Kucuksu Palace in the Beykoz district. (A trip to all of Turkey is highly recommended!)
20. Die Another Day (2002)
Brosnan’s last stand planted its narrative flag in North Korea and Iceland. However, it looked best in Cadiz, which did an excellent impression of Havana, with Halle Berry unforgettable, striding out of the sea in homage to Ursula Andress at Playa de la Caleta; the 17th-century Castillo de Santa Catalina ably impersonated the harbor walls of the Cuban capital. (This tiny sliver of a city is Spain at its most historic and is worth exploring).
21. Casino Royale (2006)
Enter Daniel Craig for a grittier version of Bond – which haunted Venice and Madagascar (the Bahamas doubling for the latter), but shone best at Lake Como – recovering from torture amid the 18th century majesty of Villa Del Balbianello (which can be rented for a real pile of money – in case you have some lying around).
22. Quantum of Solace (2008)
I found this an uninspiring sequel to Casino Royale as it meandered complicatedly through Italy, Austria, and Haiti, leaving the eco-villain to die in the Bolivian portion of the Atacama Desert, although the sequence was filmed across the Chilean border. (Personally, I would give this one a “pass”.)
23. Skyfall (2012)
This Oscar winner revisited Bond “staple” Istanbul and flirted with Shanghai. But its showpiece location, even if only for exterior shots, was the island of Hashima, off Nagasaki in southwestern Japan, whose abandoned mine and empty buildings made a ghostly base for Javier Bardem’s really bad guy.
24. SPECTRE (2015)
This autumn’s most anticipated movie is upon us. . . and I am not giving even a single “destination” away. I just will say that I believe you will have a treat in store . . . and begin to wish this may not be Daniel Craig’s last Bond movie. Frankly, I think he can be persuaded. . . as this movie will make you a Craig believer once again!!
With thanks to Chris Leadbeater, “Around the World with Every James Bond Film,” Travel Section, The Telegraph, October 24, 2015.
Writer Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth. But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again. She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”