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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 2: 26 September

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysTwenty-four hours after leaving Victoria the Orient Express pulls into Innsbruck, Austria and from its seventeen coaches in orderly confusion come the Pipeliners and the Mid-Westerners and the porters and the apologetic couriers and even the chefs bearing food on silver plates, all of which is carried across the station car park to a fleet of anonymous modern coaches. Everyone tries desperately to pretend that they're still having just as good a time, but the magic's gone.

At the Brenner Pass we are delayed interminably while Austrian customs search for the correct stamp for our film equipment clearance. As the sun sinks behind the mountains I make a quick calculation based on the time it's taking to leave Austria. At a rough estimate I could be spending eight of the next eighty days waiting at customs. Not a problem Fogg had to deal with. Nor was he ever faced with what the Austrians call, rather dramatically, a streik. His train would be rattling through the Alps by now.

At the Italian border, a bottle of Orient Express champagne is passed over and this seems to speed up the customs process. Soon, amid smiles, shrugs and assorted gesticulations we are off and running into the land where a streik is only a sciopero.

Crossing the lagoon which divides Venice from the mainland a dreadful smell assails us. It's sulphur from the massive chemical works at Mestre, sending up a malodorous halo around the Serenissima, and firmly deflating romantic anticipations.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 2
  • Date: 26 September
  • Country/sea: Austria
  • Place: Innsbruck
  • Book page no: 20

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