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Friday, November 27, 2015

COMPARING AROUND THE WORLD ADVENTURES


Jules Verne published Around the World in 80 Days in 1873.  You can purchase the Kindle edition for less than a dollar, the audio version for less than $2 and the original paperback for $3.60.

Mind you, Greek Pausanias in 100 AD had already written Around the World, and a friend, Jacques Arago in 1853 wrote something about going round the world.  Edmond Planchut released Around the World in a Hundred and Twenty Days in 1871 and William Perry Fogg (right) described in The Cleveland Leader his global journey, Round the World in 1872.  

It is also quite possible that Verne borrowed too liberally from American George Francis Train, who in 1870 did travel around the world, an expedition well covered by various newspapers.  He was unhappy that Verne stole his story, thereby becoming rich, purchasing a yacht and finding a mistress.  Verne brought it all together, and, apparently, legally.

In 1872 Train ran fot president of the USA.  He went on to organize a clipper ship line and formed the Union Pacific Railroad.  In 1990 Train began and ended his third around the world journey in 67 days from Tacoma, Washington.  He was accompanied by his cousin, George Pickering Bemis, who went on to become mayor of Omaha, Nebraska.

In the early 1870's Verne (right) was in the military in a difficult war for France.  He was already writing, but was unsuccessful.  However, he read of the First Transcontinental Railroad in American and opening of the Suez Canal, both in 1869, among various other technological developments.  Thus began a career where Jules Verne is today considered to be the Father of Science Fiction, although 80 Days only dealt with the present.

Historically, in 1519 Ferdinand Magellan began his journey with five ships and 200 men, where his surviving crew (he died in the Philippines of a poisoned arrow) of only 18, took three years to become the first to circumnavigate our planet.


In 1889 Nellie Bly went around the world, met Verne along the way, and wrote a best seller, Around the World in 72 Days, with the Kindle version available for 99 cents.  Also:
  • James Willis Sayre of Seattle in 1903 used only public transportation to accomplish this task in a bit more than 54 days.
  • A few weeks before the stock market crash of 1929 the first Graf Zeppelin, 776 feet long (Boeing 747 is 250 feet in length) and hydrogen powered, took 21 days, 12 hours and 13 minutes (including stop times) beginning from Lakehurst Naval Air Station (where the Hindenburg crashed and burned in 1937) in New Jersey, returning on August 29, backed by William Randolph Hearst, where Hearst correspondent Lady Grace Drummond-Hay became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by air.
  • Michael Palin of Monty Python in 1989 mimicked Vernes' book, beginning at the same Reform Club in London, getting to Victoria Station to board the Orient Express, using only technology available in 1873, for a television travelogue series.  It was not easy, running into an Italian railway strike (I've been caught in two of them), diarrhea and assorted other tribulations,  In Bombay he was a week behind Phileas Fogg, worsening to eleven days in Madras.  His traveling movie crew of five was collectively named Passepartout.  He did complete the journey in 79 days and 7 hours.
  • In 1999 Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones made the first non-stop balloon (right) trip in 19 days, 1 hour and 49 minutes, covering 26,600 miles.  Unfortunately, Piccard and his co-pilot, Andres Borschberg, on the Solar Impulse 2, which in March of this year left Abu Dhabi, is now stuck in Hawaii until April, and will not be breaking any speed records.
  • Four years ago a Boeing Dreamliner flew around the world through Dhaka, Pakistan (where it  remained for 2 hours for refueling) in 42 hours and 27 minutes.  But the total flight only went around 20,000 miles--the diameter of Earth is 24,901 miles.
  • A little more than three years ago, a trimaran, the Banque Populaire V (right above), took 45 days 43 minutes to earn the Jules Verne Trophy for sailing around the world, but the distance was only 24,857 miles.
  • Last year Muamer Yilmaz and Milan Bihlmann completed the challenge with no money as a charity campaign for education in Haiti, finishing in 79 days.
In 1961 Yuri Gargarin took one hour and 48 minutes to make one orbit around the planet, from blastoff to landing.  In low earth orbit, a spacenaut takes one hour and 28 minutes to circle the globe.  The International Space Station needs one hour and 33 minutes for a cycle.  The upshot of this all is that circumnavigation is now commonplace, and click on this to see who holds the world records for how.

The Jules Verne story begins in London at 8:45PM on Wednesday, 2 October 1972, which means the main character, Phileas Fogg (clearly, this must have been a salute to William Perry), had to be back 80 days later, or Saturday, 21 December 1872.  The wager was for an equivalent today of $12 million (Wikipedia says $1.6 million pounds, but that is wrong).  The shocker at the end is that Fogg miscalculated, and forgot that, when you go east around the world, you gain a day, so, in reality, he still had another 24 hours when he thought he had missed the 80-day deadline.  The following year there was already a play, which added more characters and new experiences. 


Then, of course, the Michael Todd 1954 production of Around the World in 80 Days, which only got 74% reviewers' rating and 59% from the audience.  At least that was better than the 31%/34% Rotten Tomatoes ratings of the 2004 version with Jackie Chan.  Add the three part 1989 TV miniseries (right) with Pierce Brosnan as Fogg.

The charm of these productions was the list of cameos:
  • 1954:  Robert Morley, Noel Coward, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, Charles Boyer, Evelyn Keyes, Jose Greco, Gilbert Roland, Cesar Romero, Alan Mowbray, Cedric Hardwicke, Ronald Coleman, Charles Coburn, Peter Lorre, George Raft, Red Skelton, Marlene Dietrich, John Carradine, Frank Sinatry, Buster Keaton, Joe E. Brown, Andy Devine, Victor McLaglen, Glynis Johns, Hermione Gingold, Edward R. Murrow, etc.
  • 2004:  Arnold Schwarzenegger (just before he became governor of California), Kathy Bates, Owen and Luke Wilson, Rob Schneider, John Cleese, Richard Branson, Will Forte, etc.
  • 1989:  Roddy McDdowell, Darren McGavin, Robert Morley, Lee Rremich, Jill St. John, Robert Wagner, Henry Gibson, Christopher Lee, Patrick Macnee, John Mills, Pernell Roberts, James Sikking, John Carlin, etc.

In many ways, I would equate the 1956 movie with My Ultimate Global Adventure (MUGA) of 2013 and the 2004 film with my Global Around the World Adventure (GAWA) of 2015.  MUGA was a more enjoyable trip with no downsides.  Plus, it was all first class travel.  GAWA was business class and I went through an assortment of woes:  lost my wallet (which was found in half and hour, intact), lost a tooth, got food poisoning, lost two canes, faced cold temperatures and felt the best part of the journey was that I survived, returning to my cocoon, also known as 15 Craigside, reasonably well and relieved.

After a dozen around the world adventures (well, maybe only ten, for I'll need to verify how many someday), I might  have one more left, but this one on a ship.  Consult CRUISE CRITIC for details.

Crystal has no around the world itinerary, and would be too expensive anyway.  Cunard has three 120-night versions on the Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2, starting from Southhampton, beginning at $20,000, all beginning the first week of January 2017.  Princess has two global cruises which start at $20,000, starting from Fort Lauderdale on January 3 and 20 of 2017, and stopping in Honolulu.  If I had a lot of money, the Regent Seven Seas leaves Miami on January 5, stops through Honolulu, but begins at $55,000.

All things considered, at this time, Holland America has the most convenient, beginning on 4 January 2017, taking 111 days from Fort Lauderdale, and has an inside cabin for $17,000/person.  An unobstructed ocean view starts at $25,000, which probably would be the desirable price.  However, you need two people.  So I'm now officially looking for an appropriate female who will pay her own way and share our room.  This ship stops through Hawaii, so it might be desirable to just board here, for an almost around the world cruise of 98 days.  More to come.

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