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 novels...

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

Globe Trotting
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 to London.

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.