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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 2: 26 September

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysTwenty minutes later. On the canals. Stuck firmly under a bridge. We are in a fully laden 40-foot barge trying to negotiate a 90-degree corner. Sandro, our boatman, skips elegantly but ineffectually about the vessel and blames the tides. A small crowd of Japanese tourists has gathered on the bridge above us. They seem to have eight cameras each. It's all rather embarrassing. When Sandro eventually pushes us, and a fair-sized chunk of sixteenth-century stonework, away from the bridge, we find ourselves backing into a funeral procession. Somebody popular by the looks of things, as fresh gondolafuls of mourners keep appearing round the corner.

Much later. Hot, tired and missing the Orient Express and the antimacassars and the ever-solicitous Jeff to guide me through life, I find myself at the Hotel Atlantide with my bag weighing heavy.

The Italians take being on film very seriously, but not quite as seriously as what they're wearing when they're being filmed, and this costs André, one of the hotel receptionists, the part of Man Who Shows The Presenter To His Room. He goes off to do his hair and put on a suit, leaving the way clear for his colleague Massimo, who is not so worried about his personal appearance, to turn in a splendidly moody performance. There's no lift. My room is at rooftop level with a small balcony which does not enjoy any of the classic views of Venice. As I clean my teeth the first cockroach of the trip scuttles across cracked bathroom tiles.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 2
  • Date: 26 September
  • Country/sea: Italy
  • Place: Venice
  • Book page no: 20

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