Around the World in Eighty Days

Monday, April 21, 2014 Road Junkies 0 Comments


Who hasn't read Jules Verne's classic 1873 adventure novel, Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours, or as we English-speakers know it better, Around the World in Eighty Days?  If you've never read the book, chances are you have seen the movie—either David Niven's beloved 1956 screen classic or the ill-conceived (did the director even read the book?) 2004 misstep with Jackie Chan.  At the very least, it's safe to say that most people reading this have that earworm theme song from the '56 movie running through their heads at this very moment. 

But let's recap the story for those who may be more familiar with The Amazing Race than classic films.  The year is 1872, the setting London, more specifically the city's very exclusive Reform Club.  A very wealthy gentleman and club member with the unlikely name of Phileas Fogg engages in a debate with fellow members over a London newspaper article describing the completion of a new railway section in India.  The reporter alleges, and Fogg agrees, that this important link makes it possible to circumnavigate the world in a mere 80 days.  Absurd, his compatriots scoff, and when Fogg continues to press the claim, he finds himself wagering £20,000 (equivalent to about $1.9 million in today's values) that he, Fogg, and his loyal (though newly hired) French servant Passepourtout (pass-por-TOO) can complete the journey successfully:

"I will make the tour of the world in eighty days or less; in nineteen hundred and twenty hours, or a hundred and fifteen thousand two hundred minutes... The train leaves for Dover at a quarter before nine.  I will take it this very evening,"  Fogg asserts.  No small claim in 1872, long before the days of commercial or even experimental air travel.

And thus began a wild series of adventures, in which Fogg and Passepourtout utilize every imaginable means of transportation, exceeding cleverness, and no small amount of grit to travel around the much lesser known world, safely returning to London and the Reform Club just in time to win the wager.

Though we certainly take some inspiration from the intrepid Fogg, we expect our adventures to be a bit tamer, and certainly more predictable and easier to plan.  With air travel, of course, the 80-day barrier is no longer an issue.  In fact, we might even have dragged the trip out longer, but family events (celebrations of a 90th and an 85th birthday) wedged us into the eighty-day box, so we decided to embrace the notion.

Our route varies a bit from Fogg's (as you can see on the previous page), but we do plan to check in at the Reform Club early on to see whether anyone wants to make a wager with us.  Our tentative plans are:
April 22 - Leave Atlanta
April 23-26 - Reykjavik, Iceland
April 27-28 - London, England 
April 29-May 1 - Lisbon, Portugal
May 2 - Casablanca, Morocco  
May 3-5 - Marrakech, Morocco 
May 6-7 - Tremezzo, Italy
May 8-9 - Padua, Italy
May 10-11 - Ljubljana, Slovenia
May 12-14 - Prague, Czech Republic
May 15-17 - Krakow, Poland
May 18-19 - Bratislava, Slovakia
May 20-21 - Budapest, Hungary
May 22-24 - Bucharest, Romania
May 25-27 - Sofia, Bulgaria
May 28-31 - Athens, Greece
June 1-4 - Greek islands
June 5-8 - Istanbul, Turkey
June 9-14 - Jerusalem, Israel
June 15-16 - Amman, Jordan
June 17-18 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
June 19-22 - Singapore, Singapore
June 23-29 - Sydney, Australia
June 30-July 7 - New Zealand (various areas)
July 7-10 - Honolulu, Hawaii
July 11 - Return to Atlanta
Could any of these details change?  You betcha!  Probably will.  But that's the general idea at present.  Thanks to the International Date Line, we will spend the night of July 7 in Auckland, New Zealand, and 24 hours later again spend the night of July 7, this time in Honolulu.  Still trying to wrap our minds around that little factoid.
We'll try to honor Mr. Fogg's spirit of adventure and seek out some creative conveyances to add variety to the journey.  Around the World in 80 Ways?  Probably not, but we can try. 
Like Fogg and his faithful sidekick, we'll be traveling light, not with a carpetbag full of money as they did but carrying one backpack each—a 44-liter for Ken and 32-liter for Dianne.  Life on the road is so much easier when you can carry all your belongings on your back. 
Wish us well.  Tomorrow it all begins!

David Niven's Phileas Fogg consults with Passepourtout in 1956 film.