In the final installment in the series looking
at the world of James Bond, we visit a handful of
places that feature less prominently in Ian Fleming's
The World Of James Bond - Miscellaneous Locations
4th July 2005
In this series of articles we have travelled with James Bond
in London, driven through France and seen a good part of Europe.
We have visited 007’s spiritual home in Jamaica and the
spice bazaars of Istanbul, participated in a whistle stop tour
of the land of the rising sun, seen North America and glimpsed
cold war Berlin. However, to conclude this series of articles
there remain a handful of locations that feature far less prominently,
but without which it could not be considered complete.
To start with, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
sees the newly wedded Bonds headed for Kitzbühel
in Austria for their honeymoon. Crossing the border from Germany,
Bond intended to stop at Kufstein to visit a “splendid Gasthaus
up the winding streets towards the great castle” for beer
and schnapps although they would arrive to late for the daily
midday performance of “the most imaginative war memorial,
for the 1914-18 war, ever devised”. Bond spent some time
in Kitzbühel in his childhood and in Octopussy we
learn from Bond that Hans Oberhauser “taught me to ski before
the war, when I was in my teens” (although it states in
Chapter 16 of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that
Bond’s ski instructor was called Fuchs).
Ian Fleming knew Kitzbühel well, and
visited many times throughout his life, starting with a
summer spent at a finishing school before entering Sandhurst.
The school was run by Ernan Forbes Dennis and his American
born wife, the novelist Phyllis Bottome, and located in
Villa Tennerhof. Following his ignominious departure from
Sandhurst, Fleming was sent back to Kitzbühel to improve
his German and prepare him for the Foreign Office exams
– he succeeded in the former but failed in the latter.
Today the town is well known for its 158 km of pistes and
famous for its après-ski.
Above: The Castle at Kufstein
Although much of From Russia, With Love takes place in
Turkey, once aboard the Orient Express we steam through Greece
and Yugoslavia into Italy, Switzerland and France, but as all
the action takes place on the train we get no more than a fleeting
impression. The Man With The Golden Gun takes place in
Jamaica, but while James Bond is waiting at Kingston International
Airport for his connecting flight to Havana (which he ultimately
eventually does not take) we learn that he has arrived from Trinidad
on the trail of an assassin, Scaramanga: “For six weeks,
Bond had been chasing this man around the Caribbean and Central
America”, which had also taken him to Caracas and British
Guiana, known as Guyana since independence in 1966.
In Goldfinger we meet Bond in another airport, this
time in Miami, reflecting over the assassination of a drug dealer
in Mexico – “a bad assignment, one of the worst –
squalid, dangerous and without any redeeming feature except that
it had got him away from headquarters”. There is an interesting
comment by Fleming on the announcement that “heroin would
be banned in Britain” – presumably for medical use,
as heroin had been banned at the end of the 19th century –
that “Prohibition is the trigger of crime”. Despite
the announcement by the government, heroin remains available to
the medical profession and Britain accounts for ninety-five percent
of legal heroin use in the world.
Above: Map of Mahé Island
In The Hildebrand Rarity, we find Bond on Mahé
Island in the Seychelles, bored with his stay and passing
time by snorkelling.
He’s been there for almost a month, sent to provide
an independent report on the suitability of The Seychelles
as a naval base; “Admiralty are having trouble with
their new fleet base in the Maldives”, M tells Bond,
due to strikes and sabotage by communists “creeping
in from Ceylon”.
Having completed his report, Bond has a week to wait for
the SS Kampala to take him to Mombasa. Run by the British
India Line, the Kampala would have made the Bombay-Seychelles-Mombasa
crossing in 8-10 days, hence Bond’s enforced leisure
as he awaits its arrival.
Fleming visited the islands in 1958 to investigate stories of pirate
treasure for The Sunday Times. Although he give the islands a positive
write up, Fleming did not enjoy the torrid heat, an experience shared
by James Bond: “Now the temperature was eighty in the shade
and the humidity ninety, and in the enclosed waters of the lagoon
the water was near blood heat. Even the fish seemed to be sluggish”
and later: “He was thoroughly sick of the heat and the drooping
palm trees and the plaintive cry of the terns”.
Bond’s boredom doesn’t last
long though; he is recruited by Milton Krest, an unpleasant
American millionaire, to find a rare fish, the Hildebrand
rarity of the title. Sailing to the (apparently fictional)
island of Chagrin aboard Krest’s boat, the Wavekrest,
Bond’s job is to use his snorkelling expertise to
search for the fish and on finding it to signal to Krest
to poison the water and capture the fish for scientific
research. Bond is appalled when the whole area around him
is turned into a graveyard, with hundreds of sea creatures
losing their lives for science, an event inspired by an
incident that Fleming had witnessed first hand.
Above: SS Kampala
In Thunderball we learn that Bond “had to jump
from the Arlberg Express after Heinkel and his friends had caught
up with him around the time of the Hungarian uprising in 1956”.
Although it could be taken that the Hungarian uprising is merely
mentioned to provide a timescale reference, as it does not actually
mention that Bond was in Hungary, it is most likely that he was,
as the Arlberg Express run through Hungary, Austria and Switzerland
A country that is of paramount important throughout the series
of books is, quite obviously, the USSR. At the end of You
Only Live Twice and suffering from amnesia, Bond decides
to head for Vladivostok after seeing its name in a newspaper cutting
and believing it had much to do with his former life. Having arrived
there he somehow ended up being sent to Leningrad where he was
brainwashed and sent back to Britain in The Man With The Golden
Gun. Leningrad has since resorted to its original name, St
Petersburg, and built in the beginning of the eighteenth century
to rival the great European cities it is affectionately known
as the Venice of the North. Although badly damaged during the
900-day Siege of Leningrad during the Second World War, the rebuilt
city centre is easily one of the most beautiful in the world.
Although cuisine is not a high point, the large squares and gilded
palaces, including the famous Hermitage and thousands of art treasures
contained within it, are a far cry from the drab concrete buildings
on the edge of the city.
Click here for the complete
"The World Of James Bond" series.
Article by David Leigh.