Bond Travel Porn

Inspiration

October 5, 2021

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i'm cassandra marcella


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Yes, we focus on wellness around here and an integral part of wellness is fun!

When we prioritize joy, play, and rest and focus on our work in short bursts, we maximize effectiveness and happiness.

And nothing is more fun than a Bond film!

On September 28th, I was lucky enough to see the 25th film in the Bond series, No Time to Die. (Thanks to my membership in the Spy Museum here in DC!)

No Time to Die includes all the elements we relish and expect – car chases in hot cars, explosions, gadgets, mordant wit, travel porn (more on that in a bit), London, evil villains (2 actually) keen on world domination. The cinematography harkens back to beloved old Bond films with that classic gun barrel shot, Soviet-era bunkers, and Jamaican beaches. And there are not one but three hot, strong, badass Bond women. During Craig’s reign as Bond, the women also have been — and at long last — given a makeover. A fact that Craig is very proud of.

The film is outstanding. Just outstanding. I’m a huge Bond fan, and this one is the best ever made.  And though I’m hard-pressed to say it has been worth the wait — because we have all waited so long through this pandemic — it’s definitely worth seeing on a big screen, as a 30-second statement from Craig reminds the audience before the opening sequence even starts (and it’s a doozy.)

Aside from all the big action, this film will entangle your emotions. The opening is as scary as a horror film, and the ending made me weep. To be so emotionally engaged while being amazed at the action sequences is exactly why this is the best Bond ever — the best Bond film with the best Bond actor. Bar none. #sorrynotsorry Sean. You’ve now, finally, been surpassed.

I’ve always been a fan of movie soundtracks, and this one doesn’t disappoint. There’s a melody from In Her Majesty’s Secret Service that is echoed here that gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes when I heard it. They re-use a Bond classic sung by Louis Armstrong that made me want to cheer. The best soundtracks seamlessly blend into the film, but these callbacks were appreciated love notes to the rabid fans, comme moi!

In an essay from The Atlantic called Daniel Craig’s Singular James Bond, the writer David Sims captures exactly why now, after this last installment, Daniel Craig, has surpassed Sean Connery to be the best Bond of all time.

Sims also notes that the new director, Cary Joji Fukanaga “stages some beautiful set pieces in Southern Italy, Jamaica, and Norway, filmed for IMAX’s colossal screens and worth seeing on the if possible.”

And the travel porn truly is next level. And the scenery and destinations all inspired this post. Here, I build on the excitement and share how you can visit the stunning destinations featured in the film such as Southern Italy, Jamaica, Scotland, London, Norway, and the spectacular Faroe Islands.

Because THAT would be fun, wouldn’t it??


Bond Destination No. 01 – Italy

We start (as does the film) in Italy. Matera, a town in Basilicata, is carved directly into a hillside. Grottoes and caves make up the town making for a picturesque, striking landscape. Lit up at night by outdoor fires and also by wishes written on paper which are then lit afire so they float up. It’s just magical to witness. Matera enjoyed a recent renaissance and as it’s in the south of Italy, it’s not overrun with tourists as much as popular towns in the north. There are also pristine, white-sand beaches and shoreline coves nearby (which also appear in the film.) 

To visit Matera, I recommend Virtuoso property Hotel Palazzo Margherita, owned by Francis Ford Coppola. Situated only 45 minutes from Matera and 20 minutes from those beaches, the palazzo is a great base to explore this beautiful part of Italy.

The opulent salon is, during the day, a place for reading, playing cards, enjoying afternoon tea and drinks; at night, this beautiful room becomes a cinema, equipped with professional-quality sound and projection, and a vast database of movies, including Francis’s personally curated collection of Italian classics. (I’m pretty sure that’s The Leopard in the photo, a classic!) 

Hidden at the far end of the gardens, the swimming pool is generously proportioned. But one of the Palazzo’s most magical features is the large private garden, fully enclosed and maintained with a focus on historic preservation. Built around a baroque fountain, the garden extends through a web of secret pathways, natural arbors, allées of fruit trees, and fertile beds of herbs, citrus trees, and organic vegetables, all of which supply their kitchen.

Palazzo Margherita is the realization of renowned director Francis Ford Coppola’s dream to convert a 19th-century palazzo in his grandfather’s charming hometown into a luxurious boutique hotel; the restoration took five years. Guests can choose from nine uniquely elegant rooms and suites with original details such as stone walls, frescoed ceilings, clawfoot tubs, and handpainted tile floors. Amenities include a screening room with 100 Italian films personally selected by Coppola, an eat-in kitchen where guests are taught to make pasta by hand, and a delightful café overlooking Bernalda’s town square.

Here are just a taste of the amazing experiences ::

  • Visit the Crypt of the Original Sin near Matera, also known as the Sistine Chapel of rupestrian art, along the ancient Appian Way. Witness its suggestive representation of scenes of the Old and New Testament, in a cycle of frescoes dating back to the 9th century.

  • A guided tour of the ghost town of Craco, which dates back to the 11th century.

  • Take part in a cooking class, offering guests the experience of preparing traditional pasta under the guidance of our chefs. Learn the techniques of shaping handmade pasta, assist in making a pasta sauce, and enjoy the taste of your own work.

  • Metaponto was founded by Greek settlers on the Ionian coast and became one of the most important settlements of the Magna Grecia. Visitors have the opportunity to travel into the millennial history of Greek culture. The archaeological site includes different temples dedicated to Athena, Apollo, Hera, and others.

  • The Valle d’Itria is the home of the famous Trulli (cylindrical homes with cone roofs). Here you will find the biggest concentration of Trulli, offering charming scenery and an exclusive landscape.

Many years ago, when the Palazzo was still the private home of the Margherita family, owner Giuseppe asked local artisans to paint the ceiling of this suite with a romantic mythological scene (Cupid and Psyche) in order to bestow good fortune and a happy marriage for his beloved daughter. They continue this tradition for their newlywed guests as they believe that spending a honeymoon in the Gia Suite assures good luck for a long and happy marriage!

 


Bond Destination – No. 2 Jamaica

Producers chose Ian Fleming’s Jamaican estate, GoldenEye to reveal the very first details of Bond 25 aka No Time to Die.

Filming didn’t actually take place at Fleming’s estate (now an amazing hotel!) GoldenEye. Port Antonio, also on the north coast of the island but considerably further east, is where Bond’s (obviously short-lived) retirement was filmed in No Time to Die.

Jamaica harkens back to older Bond films like Skyfall and Live and Let Die. And of course of Honey Ryder in Dr. No.  This and other nods to the past are part of what makes No Time to Die so so fun! 

GoldenEye in St. Mary, Jamaica is also a Virtuoso property (which means I can get you all sorts of goodies and upgrades!) Once the Jamaican home of renowned author Ian Fleming, GoldenEye was made into a hotel in 2011 by Island Records founder, Chris Blackwell. The 52-acre seafront estate is home to secret coves, lagoons, and private beaches. You can actually stay in the villa where 14 James Bond novels were written (and see the desk!) with its own beach—&, of course, a private pool, gardens, & staff. Or in one of the other beautiful villas, cottages, or hutches.

GoldenEye stands apart from the crowd with its rich history of diverse guests, influencers, artists, writers & visionaries. GoldenEye continues to offer a unique escape from the noise, distractions, & tourist traps of the world around – much like it once did for Mr. Fleming. This peaceful oasis welcomes creativity & authenticity, with minimum regard for convention. 

  • dining options include The Gazebo and Bizot Bar restaurants, the Shabeen rooftop bar, the Bamboo Bar & Grill with Jamaican-style ackee & saltfish to spicy jerk chicken.  

  • Weekly barbecues and cocktail parties.

  • FieldSpa with yoga and meditation. The lagoon’s edge cottage & open-to-the-air treatment rooms, the spa without walls is a sanctuary for massage, salt scrubs, skin brightening facials, herbal wraps, & energy work. 

  • Three stunning pools.

  • Water sport activities including paddle boarding, snorkeling, glass-bottom boat tours.

  • Also turtle hatching, tree planting, and tennis.

It doesn’t get much more Bond than GoldenEye in Jamaica! 

 

 


Bond Destination – No. 3 SCOTLAND

Filmmakers also used Aviemore in the Cairngorms in Scotland. You may recall Scotland being featured in another Bond film — specifically the climax of Skyfall where Bond’s family home is blown up. (James Bond’s father Andrew is from Glencoe.) Scotland also appeared as a setting in the World is Not Enough, The Spy Who Loved Me, and From Russia with Love.

So Scotland could claim Bond as one of their own. I love Scottish men! 

In No Time to Die the director filmed a riveting chase scene along the shores of Loch Laggan on the Ardverikie Estate and also used Cairngorms National Park for part of the chase.  We see a vehicle flip end-over-end while racing along beside a loch, and this sequence even appears in the trailer which I watch a gazillion times while awaiting the actual release of the film. 

The best place to stay in this part of Scotland is — by far – at the Fife Arms, in Braemar. This five-star inn is nestled in the Cairngorms, a national park in Scotland. This beautiful inn is the personal project of international art dealers Hauser & Wirth accounting for more than 16,000 pieces of art that mingle with the contemporary Highlands decor. They feature art from Queen Victoria to Picasso.

The Fife Arms is a living museum of Braemar history. Every element has a story behind it. For example, one of the 46 guest rooms pays tribute to Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote Treasure Island here and a fireplace depicts Robert Burns’ poems and stories. 

  • Check out the Royal Lochnagar distillery to see how whisky is made and/or sample 365 varieties of whisky at The Fife Arms at their whisky library, Bertie’s.

  • Visit nearby Balmoral Castle, which is only 6 miles away, a special guide to explain the history of this royal estate and pointing out fascinating details about the architecture. 

  • Drink at the Elsa Bar (yes, Elsa Schiaparellia, the Tiffany jewelry designer). Named after this frequent guest, the bar embodies art deco with an art deco disco ball and a series of Man Rays.

  • Design a bespoke tartan just for you with designer Araminta Campbell. (and if you stop in Edinburgh, you can have tea in her studio too)

  • Roam Cairngorm National Park which is a place to hike or fish. Scotland’s largest ski resort, Glenshee, is also nearby.
    Enjoy a picnic either in one of the beautiful landscapes or in their quaint picnic hut, about 40 minutes from the hotel.

 


Bond Destination – No. 4 NORWAY

The small towns of Nittedal and Hakadal, located only just north of Oslo, are where several of the frozen lake scenes were filmed, including the scene where a villain chased a young girl across a frozen lake. If you’re an adventure seeker, you could also travel Norway’s windy Atlantic Ocean Road, which is where Bond, in his Aston Martin, was chased by a Range Rover in another epic scene. This road of dips, curves, and arch bridges connects several tiny islands and is regularly used for testing cars and filming ads. The landscape is spectacular. 

One of the best ways to explore Norway, especially if you’re adventurous, is through a cruise from Dublin to Norway on Atlas Ocean Voyages. This new luxury cruise line offers luxurious amenities as well as adventure. This luxe-adventure experience maxes out at less than 200 guests, and so you’ll be lavished with attention.  

On this itinerary expect to see ::

  • In Flam, Norway the 11-mile-long fjord is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and rated by the National Geographic Society as the world’s number one natural heritage site. 

  • In Bergen, a UNESCO designation of the City of Gastronomy, take a ride to the top of the iconic Mount Floyen, rising over 1,000 feet above sea level, snap images of Bergen’s famous UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hanseatic wharf, Bryggen.

  • Experience the snow-covered mountains of Geiranger by visiting extraordinary features like the Seven Sisters waterfalls, jutting out from the cliff sides in seven separate cataracts, and creating a curtain you can walk behind and 11 hairpin turns of Trollstigen mountain road.

  • Kristiansund, has a 300-year-old history as a trading port for fish, you’ll enjoy a well-prepared cod at every restaurant and further immerse yourself in the culture at the Clipfish Museum, built on a mid-18th-century wharf.  Use the ferry service to visit the four across four islands and the architectural treasure of Kvernes, a church built in the 1300s.

  • Cross the Arctic Circle and visit have to be seen to be believed-especially the remote places that are located above the Arctic Circle along the Lofoten archipelago. Vaerøy is the hidden gem of this region, with surprisingly warm waters and snow that rarely stays on the ground for long. 

  • Do some bird watching in Honningsvåg and on the little island of Gjesvaerstappan, where all sorts of Arctic seabirds – including gannets, puffins, and cormorants – can be seen on the cliffs, along with seals.

 


Bond Destination No. 5 Faroe Islands

The filmmakers shot the final climax on an archipelago between Iceland and Norway, north of Scotland. The small Faroe Islands are a hiker’s paradise with green rolling hills and deep valleys surrounded by dramatic steep mountains. Specifically, they filmed on Kalsoy, home to 13 mountain peaks, and featured its Kallur Lighthouse which sits solo on a promontory. With stunning panoramic views of the North Atlantic, these rugged landscapes are the perfect backdrop for this perfect end. I’ll share no spoilers. (The director of “No Time to Die” also filmed an epic scene in a one-lane tunnel on these islands.)

It does make you wonder who gets the job to scout all of these locations!  

Havgrím Seaside Hotel 1948 in Tórshavn is the island’s latest boutique hotel and a great place to stay. Everyone in the Faroe Islands is familiar with the impressive, white house known as the Commodore’s House because 21 Danish Commodores and their families made the house their home after the Danish Navy purchased the building in the 1950s.  (There are flights from Edinburgh, Copenhagen, and London).

  • Hike up on Kalsoy Island to Kallur Lighthouse

  • Check out the rock formation known as Drangarnir (or the big sea stack of the two). Behind it rises Tindholmur, yet another fantastic rock island.

  • Explore Viking ruins, which are all over the place in Leirvík, Kvívík, and Tjørnavík along the beach. 

  • Visit the National Museum offers an experience of the geology, botany, zoology, archeology, folk-life, and history of the Faroe Islands including an original Faroese rowing boat, a full collection of the legendary 15th century Kirkjubøur benches, a variety of national costumes, and interesting findings from the Viking era. 

  • Drive through the subsea tunnels which are quite an engineering feat. 

 


Bond Destination – No. 6 London

Bond is British, and London always features in Bond movies. And the London Olympics featured Bond as quintessentially British. In Spectre, we even get a peek at Bond’s apartment at 1 Stanley Gardens in West London’s Notting Hill. 

In No Time to Die, we see settings throughout London including a scene on Hammersmith Bridge where Bond meets with M. He also shows up at Q’s house for a very funny scene (one appreciates the dialogue and suspects the hand of Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and, of course, Bond stops by Whitehall, too.

I recommend Virtuoso property The Corinthia Hotel London. The building was the famous Hôtel Métropole from 1885 to 1936. Then the UK Government took it over and from 1936 to 2004 it was occupied by the UK Government as the Ministry of Defence. And in 2008, the building was reborn again as a hotel –  the Corinthia London. 

Rated among the city’s finest, Corinthia Hotel London that heritage with a modern touch.  In the heart of London, you’re only a short walk from many of the city’s major attractions such as  Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the National Gallery, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, West End theatres, Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, and the fashionable Regent Street and Bond Street for designer shopping. 

  • Gin is having a global renaissance, but nowhere does it better than the British capital. Even though Bond’s classic drink is a vodka martini, the Vesper is made mostly with gin. And as we are reminded in No Time to Die, “…once you’ve tasted it, that’s all you want to drink.”

  • For centuries, London has been the center of the art market. A tour of Mayfair, at the heart of this multi-billion dollar global business, will include auction houses like Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Bonhams.

  • Get as fit as Bond with a scenic run along the banks of the River Thames. While taking in the city skyline, your trainer will advise on running techniques and breathing patterns as well as mindfulness and breathing techniques to ease mental and muscular tensions.

  • Stop by the first London restaurant of renowned Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge who created a menu that harkens back to classics at Kerridge’s Bar & Grill

  • Indulge in some pampering at the award-winning ESPA Life at Corinthia spa and The Elixir Clinic, an international wellness clinic, renowned for its IV nutrient therapy for rejuvenation and sustaining long-term wellbeing.


Tours for Bond Fans

Here are just a few James Bond-themed tours that Premier Wellness Travel can arrange for you with our special partners ::

Tour Lake Como by Driving the Amphibious Classic Amphicar 770 (Italy)
The panoramic views of Lake Como are show-stopping, to say the least. But rather than gazing across the acres of azure waters, glide right into the lake – thanks to the incredible amphibious car. The Amphicar 770 takes you – on and off the water – on a tour around the iconic lake, catch a glimpse of the infamous Villa Balbianello, where Star Wars and James Bond film Casino Royale were filmed. During the incredible journey, pass the only island on Como, the bijou, and undisturbed Comacina Island, and, with the instructor’s aid, embark on some in-water driving lessons. Glamour, fun, beauty, and all while keeping dry: the Amphicar experience might be the most exciting (and most unique) way to explore one of the great lakes of Europe.

Visit the Carrara Marble Quarries (Italy)
Discover the enchanting world of Carrara marble on an exhilarating quarry adventure. Michelangelo, Bernini, Canova, and Rodin all spent time in Carrara, among the Apuane Alps, sourcing material for their famous masterpieces. Hold onto your hats for this 4×4 off-road tour that calls to mind the car chase in James Bond’s Quantum of Solace. Explore normally inaccessible places, traveling along steep, winding roads with your guide to visit Carrara’s three marble valleys and Michelangelo’s favorite cave.

Explore Skaftafell National Park and Beyond (Iceland)
Start with a hike in Skaftafell, Europe’s largest national park, which encompasses a breathtaking collection of peaks and glaciers and varied flora and fauna. The path will go past scenic waterfalls, commanding views of glacier tongues, and black desert sands stretching out to sea. Enjoy a picnic overlooking Skaftafellsjökull, a glacier tongue spurting off from Iceland’s largest ice cap, Vatnajökull. From Skaftafellsjökull, you can observe Iceland’s highest peak, Hvannadalshnjukur. Later in the day, go on a boat ride on Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon. Two James Bond movies were filmed in this fantastic location, and floating among the ice, you may spot seals, eider ducks, and even witness the glacier calving into the crystal turquoise waters.

Elegant Night Gambling (Monaco)
Start the day with a private visit to the legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo. Then, enjoy a helicopter tour – seeing the sweeping grandeur of Monaco and the Mediterranean unfold beneath you is truly a magnificent experience. In the afternoon, discover the many attractions of the French Riviera in an Aston Martin. Afterward, unwind with a couple’s massage in the room. A butler will be at your service taking care of every detail, including the special delivery of a tuxedo and evening gown. Once dressed to the nines, start the evening with a James Bond Martini “shaken, not stirred” followed by a sumptuous Michelin-starred candlelit dinner on the hotel’s iconic penthouse terrace overlooking the magical Casino Square. End the day at the most celebrated Casino in the world, where international society comes to court lady luck amidst opulent splendor.

Propose at The Royal Gangaur (India)
Experience the historic Gangaur – the 150-year old boat used by the Maharanas for floating processions, celebrating festivals, and royal ceremonies. Extensively featured in the classic James Bond film, “Octopussy,” the Gangaur is a signature dining experience, with twists and surprises that never cease to amaze and fascinate guests. Enjoy a beautifully curated dinner with drinks at the romantic Royal Gangaur. The Gangaur is also a great venue for that intimate experience – many a hand has been wooed (and won!) on the magical waters of Lake Pichola.

Islands From the Air (Thailand)
From the air, see the karst limestone peaks of Phang Nga Bay shine emerald against the jade sea, and Chinese ships trail white wakes as they cross from island to island. The helicopter flies over mangrove coasts, the famous James Bond island, secluded beaches, the coastal jungle, and around dramatic rock formations. Yes, it’s literally called James Bond Island, and it’s a famous landmark in Phang Nga Bay. It first found its way onto the international tourist map through its starring role in the James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun. A distinctive trait of this famous bay is the number of sheer limestone cliffs that vertically jut out of the emerald-green water.


Additional Resources ::

James Bond Lifestyle site.

Being James Bond documentary on all of Daniel Craig’s Bond films.

And then – have you ever heard of Operation Mincemeat? In real life, Ian Fleming came up with an idea to spread disinformation to the Nazis. The Allied forces were planning to attack in Sicily. And the Nazis knew it. Working at the time for the British Secret Service, Fleming came up with a crazy idea. They did it and it worked! It’s a fascinating true story (which I read about in a book 10 years ago). Now, the riveting tale has been made into a film coming out on January 7th, 2022 on Netflix. The film stars Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilton, Jason Isaacs, Johnny Flynn, Simon Russell Beale, Hattie Morahan, Mark Gatiss and Paul Ritter. So we have that to look forward to! Here is the trailer.

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