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Sail the 007 seas with James Bond

16-Nov-2008 • Bond Style

Let James Bond show you the way to places glamorous enough to die for - reports the Ottawa Citizen.

With Quantum of Solace opening yesterday, the publicity frenzy over all things James Bond is in full swing. We're not immune to such hype, so we've conducted our own surveillance and put together the ultimate travel spots for spy-hard Bond fans. From the heights of the Swiss Alps to a martini bar that stirred an author's imagination, the world of espionage and Bond is for your eyes only.

Bond films are famous for their glamour quotient -- fast cars, faster women, gimmicky gadgets and exotic locales. If you've been tracking the steps of Bond throughout his film career, you know what a globetrotter he is. Though you might not have the budget of MI6 at your disposal, you can still do your own bit of continent hopping.

It's impossible to talk about Bond without paying homage to Jamaica. It holds a special place in Bond history. Dr. No, which had the working title, Commander Jamaica, was shot almost entirely on location on the island, with interior scenes filmed at London's Pinewood Studios. As the first film in the series, United Artists weren't sure it would be a success and gave producers a paltry budget of just $1 million. That didn't leave much cash for global gallivanting, so Jamaica received plenty of camera time.

It was a destination Ian Fleming knew well. He owned a beachfront home in Jamaica, near the seaport town of Oracabessa, called Goldeneye, where he wrote 13 Bond novels. It's now a swanky, très exclusive hotel (www.goldeneyehotel.com, rates starts at $750 a night, meals and drinks included).

Bond girl Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) singlehandedly sent the sales of white bikinis (not to mention diver's knives) through the roof, seductively emerging from the sea near Laughing Waters Beach, next to a private Jamaican estate, not far from Ocho Rigolos.

Later in the film, Bond and Honey take a break from pursuing Dr. No with a refreshing dip at the famous Dunn's River Falls (www.dunnsriverfallsja.com), also in the area. It now receives about one million visitors a year -- tourists who don't look a smidgen as good as Honey in a swimsuit.

Other Dr. No scenes were filmed at the Bauxite terminal (a familiar spot to cruise ship passengers who have disembarked in Ocho Rios), the Blue Mountains and Montego Bay.

In 1973, Live and Let Die had Jamaica doubling as the fictional, voodoo-riddled island of San Monique.

The Caribbean would host the cast and crew again for Casino Royale, the first outing for Daniel Craig as Bond. In the film, he flies to the Bahamas to derail a plan to use funds from a stock swindle for terrorism. He squares off against a henchman at the gambling tables found (fictionally) at the One&Only Ocean Club (www.oneandonlyresorts.com) on Paradise Island. You'll have to emerge a big winner if you want to stay there. Rooms start at $500 per night. Villa 1085 is the place to be to breathe the same air as Craig.

The four-bedroom unit with ocean views, private garden, swimming pool, personal chef and 24-hour butler service was Bond's hangout.

On New Providence Island, home to Nassau, Albany House (www.albanybahamas.com) serves as home to villain Alex Dimitrios and Bond's girlfriend of the moment, Solange. The sprawling, über-posh villa can be rented for $80,000 per week, but that includes a full staff and a private beach. It's part of Albany Estate, a private golf community co-owned by Tiger Woods. This is also where Craig did his slow saunter out of the water, with his pecs and abs glistening in the sun.

Perhaps more accessible to mere mortals like you and me, you can soak up some Bond energy for much less (i.e. free) in the Nassau airport, also a location used in Casino Royale.

In Thunderball (1965), the local town government staged a special carnival parade, known as Junkanoo, just for filming purposes.

Stretches of beach are no stranger to Bond films. After all, those Bond honeys would look silly in those skimpy outfits away from tropical climates. In 1974's The Man with the Golden Gun, Roger Moore as Bond pilots his seaplane to an island where bad guy (Christopher Lee) has stashed away Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland), the spy's playmate du jour. A gunfight ensues on the beach with the towering limestone stone formations of Ao Phang Nga National Park (www.dnp.go.th/index_eng.asp), located near Phuket, Thailand, in the background. These days, Khow-Ping-Kan is nicknamed James Bond Island and you can book a sightseeing excursion there or kayak your way over.

Nature of a different sort gets the star treatment in You Only Live Twice (1967). The Japanese island of Kyushu was the refuge of the evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld who hoped to incite a war between the U.S. and Russia. Blofeld and his white cat won't be anywhere in sight, but it's still worthwhile to hike the same volcano that Bond and another bikini babe, Kissy Suzuki, scaled in Kirishima-Yaku National Park (www.biodic.go.jp/english/jpark/np/kirisima_e.html). You can even check out all 25 volcanoes, if you want. You likely won't find any retractable roofs or underground lairs containing villains in real life, though.

The world's glitziest hotels nab roles in many Bond films. Fortunately, Bond enthusiasts won't have to fight their way through an army of women to visit the India's Taj Lake Palace Hotel (www.tajhotels.com), which served as the residence for Octopussy and her all-girl soldiers. The white marble wonder that appears to float in Udaipur's Lake Pichola was originally built in 1746 as a maharaja's palace. You don't need to travel there inside a fake, submersible alligator as Bond did in the 1983 film. It's easier to take a taxi or drive up to the front door.

Though you might not arrive there in a Lotus Esprit S1, you can also visit the Hotel Pitrizza, Costa Smeralda (www.starwoodhotels.com) in Sardinia, Italy. It offers a perfect view of the pier that saw Bond's car transform into a submarine after plunging over its edge in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Or try channelling some of Bond's legendary mojo at the Cala di Volpe (www.starwoodhotels.com), a five-star resort, where he bedded Major Anya Amasova (played by Barbara Bach), a Russian spy babe. Its Pontile Piano Bar doubled as their passion pit in the film.

In the most recent Bond effort, Quantum of Solace, Italy returns to the screen. Cameras rolled in the postcard-perfect town of Siena during The Palio, the country's famous bareback horse race, with Bond hopping across rooftops in pursuit of a bad guy. The event (www.ilpalio.org/palioenglish.htm) happens every year on July 2 and Aug. 16 and admission is free.

Though George Lazenby, a model with no previous acting experience, was a one-hit wonder in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the film is memorable on many counts. Bond gets hitched, his wife is murdered, and a lifetime of commitment-free bed-hopping begins. But it's the stunning setting of Blofeld's hideout that stands out as a destination. High atop the Swiss Alps in Bernese Oberland, the restaurant Piz Gloria (www.schilthorn.ch) oozes cool with its modern design and sleek interiors. Today, you can dine at the revolving restaurant and nibble on a "James Bond Breakfast," a mammoth buffet fit for an entire Swiss village (the breakfast buffet costs 92 Swiss francs, which are pretty much equivalent to Canadian dollars). After you dine, check out the James Bond exhibit on the lower floor.

It's not surprising that all of Bond's paths lead back to London. At 22 Ebury St. in Pimlico, look for the National Heritage blue plaque that marks the house where Fleming was born in 1908.

London is also dotted with many of Fleming's adult hangouts. Fleming and Bond both dined at Scott's of Mayfair (www.scotts-restaurant.com), the city's most famous fish restaurant. Would-be writers may be inspired by Fleming's favourite dishes, such as Angels on Horseback (oysters wrapped in bacon, served on toast) or Scotch Woodcock (scrambled eggs and anchovies), which are still on the menu.

Devoted martini sippers should head to Dukes Bar in the Dukes Hotel (www.dukeshotel.com) in Mayfair. Fleming warmed bar stools here on many a night. The hotel barman may have been the one who first uttered the most quoted James Bond line, "Shaken, not stirred," though other London bars have also made the claim. Regardless, you can order Bond's cocktail of choice to be made at your table by one of the mixologists.

Because 2008 is the centennial of Ian Fleming's birth and the hotel's 100th anniversary, it is offering a Bond About Town package, starting at about $830 a night. It includes a double room, three-course dinner, a Miss Moneypenny manicure or pedicure, and a master class in the art of martini making.

The Ritz London (www.theritzlondon.com) has created Bond packages, too. Mentioned in the novel From Russia with Love, it has the James Bond Experience, complete with one night's accommodation, dinner for two, cocktails, temporary membership to The Ritz Club (one of the world's most exclusive gaming clubs) and tickets to the James Bond exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, for the tidy sum of $1,220 for a twin or double room.

Titled For Your Eyes Only, the war museum's is the first major exhibition devoted to the life and work of Ian Fleming. Until March, enough memorabilia to whip Bond fans into a frenzy is on display (www.iwm.org.uk; about $22 for adults).

Items include: Fleming's research notes for From Russia With Love, annotated Bond manuscripts, plus movie props such as Rosa Klebb's deadly flick-knife shoes worn in From Russia With Love, the cello pierced by a bullet featured in The Living Daylights, a spear-gun from Thunderball, Sean Connery's overcoat from Dr. No, a blood-stained shirt worn by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, and Halle Berry's ooh-la-la orange bikini worn in Die Another Day.

If you'd like to capture a bit of 007's style, visit Turbull & Asser (www.turnbullandasser.com) at 71-72 Jermyn St. The bespoke tailors dressed Daniel Craig in Casino Royale and created pyjamas for Judi Dench as M. Ask for the special James Bond cuff for your shirts. It's a double cuff that angles back and reveals two buttons hidden underneath.

For Quantum of Solace, American designer Tom Ford dresses Craig in his dapper suits. It's been reported that Craig destroyed more than 40 over the course of filming.

Gear heads will love the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu (www.beaulieu.co.uk; about $29 for adults) in the New Forest National Park in the south of England. Some of Bond's most famous vehicles are on display, including the Aston Martin Volante from The Living Daylights, the BMW R1200 motorcycle featured in the chase in Tomorrow Never Dies and that extraordinary, fin-popping, amphibious Lotus car from The Spy Who Loved Me.

So it isn't Monte Carlo or Venice, but Kitchener, Ont., has a strong link to James Bond. Lois Maxwell, who appeared in 14 Bond films as Miss Moneypenny, was born in the city that's well-known for its Oktoberfest celebrations. After she was dumped from her role in favour of a younger actress, she penned a column for the Toronto Sun using the pseudonym Moneypenny.

Bond has not ventured into Canada too often in his films, but he was here. The opening ski sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me was filmed on Baffin Island's Mount Asgard, which was doubling as Austria. Trigger-happy Russian agents pursued Bond (really stuntman Rick Sylvester, not Roger Moore). To escape them, he skis off the edge of a cliff and free falls. Bond yanks a toggle and releases a parachute with a Union Jack. It remains one of the most fantastic stunts in Bond movie history -- one that netted the stuntman $10,000 in cash, plus expenses. In the event of his death, his family would have received $250,000.

Author Ian Fleming also visited Canada. He was trained at Camp-X, a camp for spies that opened just east of Toronto during the Second World War. British, American and Canadian military personnel were taught how to carry out special missions abroad, including sabotage, deception, intelligence gathering and subversion. Fleming was among the Brits who participated in intelligence training exercises. Today, you can tour the site, now a small museum in Oshawa (www.camp-x.com; admission $5 for adults), which displays spy gadgets, Camp-X uniforms, weapons and photos. Hours are a bit irregular, so call 1-905-436-6325 to check when it's open.

For a grander taste of espionage, go to Washington, D.C. to visit the excellent International Spy Museum (www.spymuseum.org; $18 for adult admission).

Though Bond never spied in Quebec City, or slept with any of its dames (that we know of), you can still play spy at the luxurious Auberge St. Antoine (www.saint-antoine.com, from $299 a night).

It has a James Bond-themed suite (just because it wanted one). It's room 007, of course, and has plenty of dark wood, leather and manly touches, plus a Bond movie library to entertain you. Be wild and crazy, and check in under a pseudonym such as Ivana Kisbond.

With so many places to Bond with, you'll never be bored following in the steps of the world's most famous spy.

In the lexicon of Bond films, "tomorrow never dies." That means you've got time to see them all -- that is, until you decide, "the world is not enough." Next stop, space?

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