Sunday, May 24, 2015

European Tour - Lausanne (Switzerland)

Lausanne in Switzerland is just a short train journey from Bern.  So off we went to see Lake Geneva.
As soon as we reached the station in Lausanne we started the downhill walk to the water.  On our way we passed this second-hand store.  Unlike Bern where they speak Swiss-German, here they speak Swiss-French.  There were no French language Bond novels in this store though.

We encountered no further book stores during our brief visit to this town.  However I did manage to grab a few more scenic photos:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

European Tour - Bern (Switzerland)

After catching a train from Lyon our first stop in Switzerland was the capital, Bern.  We spent two nights in this beautiful city, and as an added bonus our hotel was located in the historic old town.  Cobble stone streets, tall uniform sandstone buildings, magnificent churches and fountains were everywhere and the camera certainly got a workout.

Having planned ahead a little, there were two important locations I had to visit in Bern; both James Bond related.

The first was a doorway used for an external scene in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service".  In the scene Bond (Lazenby) walked into the building through this doorway before breaking into a safe in Gumbolt's office.  There was also a shot of this doorway when Gumbolt exited and re-entered the building for his lunch break.  The location can be found opposite the Bern Railway Station at Bollwerk 15.
The second location was also from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", this time the Bear Pit (or Bärengraben) briefly seen in the film before the camera pans up to a moving car (carrying Bond) travelling over the bridge visible in the background.  As it's May the bears are currently being housed in a zoo elsewhere so the pit was empty.  I was actually glad though as while I'm sure they're well cared for I'm still not sure about keeping bears in a concrete pit.

Having found the two Bond film locations, next on my list were the book stores.  I managed to find some second hand book stores...

... but it was the new book stores where I had the most luck.  First was a store in the main railway station where I purchased this German copy of "Colonel Sun".  The artist Michael Gillette has already had 14 covers released in the German Ian Fleming series, a few of which differ from the English language series.  He was then asked to continue the same series of cover designs for "Colonel Sun" followed by several John Gardner books, with more on the way.  I have to say they look fantastic.  The spines are numbered and uniform.  If I had the money I would definitely purchase them all however at this present moment in time I could only buy this one token copy.

The second book store I found was Stauffacher.  This store was huge and as Switzerland is multilingual it contained German, French and English language books.  The staff were very friendly and helped me in my search for Bond novels.  I ended up purchasing the German copy of "Solo" by William Boyd shown below, the third different edition of this book I've purchased this holiday.

Finally, here's some scenic photos of Bern:

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

European Tour - Lyon (France)

Despite the Anzac centenary commemorations in Gallipoli, Turkey, being the primary reason for our current European tour I'm going to skip over our 12 day group organised tour for the moment and go straight to our next destination, Lyon.  This was a one night stop-over between Istanbul and Bern, Switzerland.

My wife, Mona and myself had limited time in this city, and because of that reason we stayed just a stone throw away from the main train station, Gare de Lyon Part-Dieu.

After checking into our hotel we managed to find a large Carrefour superstore close by where I found the book section. On the shelves were a French language copy of William Boyd's "Solo" as well as a copy of Roger Moore's latest autobiography.  I decided not to purchase either though and instead try my luck elsewhere.

So the next morning before breakfast I raced down to one of the two Relay stores at the train station where I found and purchased a great copy of the aforementioned edition of "Solo", my second purchase of the same title this trip following the Greek one I found in Santorini.

Now the bookshops and sights of Switzerland beckoned...

Monday, May 04, 2015

European Tour - James Bond Guided Day Tour (Turkey)

Today we enjoyed a James Bond / Dan Brown guided tour of Istanbul.  We were met in the lobby of our hotel at 9AM before being led out onto the streets.  Our tour guide named Hero spoke perfect English and shared the typical relaxed attitude as the rest of the citizens of Istanbul.

We first visited the underground Cistern which was used in "From Russia With Love" when Kerim Bey took Bond to the periscope under Smersh's Istanbul headquarters.  It was an amazing experience.  So quiet and cool, and the lighting on the columns was very effective.

Next we visited the Grand Bazaar and after 30 minutes of walking past the stores of scarves, souvenirs and carpets suddenly we were in the old jewellery Han climbing steep stairs, ducking through low roofed arches before finding ourselves on the roof of the Bazaar.  It wasn't the actual tiled part of the roof used by Bond in "Skyfall" (there had been a recent robbery near that area) but it was still a magical place and provided a great vantage point over the whole of the city.

After reluctantly leaving the roof we then visited sites used in the Dan Brown novels.  And the street shown below was used in the film "Taken 2".

During the rest of the day we visited a mosque, a famous cemetery, the Spice Bazaar, Taksim Square, the Asian side of Istanbul via ferry and Maiden's Tower.

And then after I told Hero I collected Bond books he took us on a detour to some second hand book stores he knew.

The first was an underground book store that looked like it was operated by uni students.  No luck here.

Then we walked to a building that used to sell exotic flowers.  Just around the corner were many small stores selling second hand books.  It was here I had some luck finding some 80's Turkish language Bonds.
I ended up buying three of these.  I already have another 8 in this series.

I also noticed this Turkish film poster but the price was too expensive.

So in summary we saw heaps of sights and probably walked at least 10km.  Both my wife and Mona also had a great day and felt the Bond connection with the tour was minor which made it more enjoyable for them.

Now I have to say if you want to see all the Bond filming locations in Istanbul and learn heaps of details about them... this isn't the tour for you.  However as a tour of Istanbul with the added bonus of visiting some locations seen in Bond films this is the one.

If you're planning on visiting Istanbul in the near future and you're after a relaxed guided tour for the day involving lots of walking I'd definitely recommend Hero as your guide.  His email address is kahraman_kevs at  Our tour lasted from 9AM to 4:30PM for just the three of us.