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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 1: 25 September

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysHowever, I am leaving London in a manner of which he would doubtless have approved had it been available in 1872, aboard the Venice-Simplon Orient Express. Last farewells and a check on the exact time of departure by two friends acting as judges. Fogg's friends were bankers. Mine, Messrs Jones and Gilliam, are Pythons. Terry Jones eyes Passepartout, already about his business with the camera. 'You're going to have to look happy for eighty days.' 'No,' I reassure him. 'There'll be no cheating.' Then the whistle sounds, the last door slams and we're off.

I am installed in a sumptuous refurbished Pullman coach called 'Zena'. Behind me are 'Ibis', 'Lucille', 'Cygnus' and 'Ione'. Antimacassars, marble washbasins, upholstered armchairs and inlaid walnut panelling come as a bit of a shock to one used to the Gatwick Express, but I try hard to forget about guilt and silly things like that and sit back and sniff the fresh orchids and sip a little champagne. The leader of a crack force of waiters approaches, issuing brisk directives.

'We do advise you to be seated. We're coming through the train with hot soup.'

We are dealt a three-course meal and coffee in 55 minutes flat. It's delicious, but such is the precision with which it has to be served that you feel that any lingering over the menu might result in the aforementioned hot soup being lightly but firmly applied upon some tender area.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 1
  • Date: 25 September
  • Country/sea: England
  • Place: London
  • Book page no: 15

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