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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 3: 27 September

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysI seek refuge at the Hostaria del Milion - good unpretentious food and wine in a tiny, intimate little courtyard. Two doors down there still stands the house where Marco Polo lived and from which he departed on his great journeys to the East. I stand and look up at the modest stone walls, as if there might be something I can learn from them. A photographer takes pictures of me doing this. He's an Italian. His real name's Renato but I've taken to calling him Posso which is the only word I've heard from him today.

'Posso?' Snap. I feel sorry for these still photographers. They're only doing their job, but they keep getting in the way of Passepartout and making him very cross.

Early evening. Our departure for the Levant is not, sadly, from some photogenic quayside flanked by the Lions of St Mark, but from the tourist-neglected backside of Venice, the docks of the Stazione Marittima. The soft warmth of the day has given way to a chilly evening as our baggage barge chugs past the soaring hulls of a rough assortment of freighters - a Russian boat from Starnov, the River Tyne from Limassol (a poignant reminder of where the British shipping industry has gone) and finally the elegant wave-moulded bow and milk chocolate hull of my home for the next four days, the Espresso Egitto, Venezia. Maybe because we're all tired, or maybe because we can only count eleven portholes on her side, Passepartout and I are not as responsive as we might be to the promise of the Egyptian Express. A shout causes me to turn, lose my footing and almost disembowel myself on the camera tripod.

'Posso?' Snap.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 3
  • Date: 27 September
  • Country/sea: Italy
  • Place: Venice
  • Book page no: 25

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