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Pole to Pole


Michael Palin - Pole to PoleFor almost a year after my return from travelling around the world in eighty days, well-intentioned ideas for sequels were generously offered. I had only to show up with a suitcase for the 10.15 to Bristol for someone to ask, 'Off round the world again, Michael?' A chance sighting of me far from home would prompt a cry of recognition: 'What's this, Michael . . . round Penrith in eighty days?'. Taxi-drivers would hold me personally responsible for new traffic schemes: 'You should try going round this lot in eighty days!'. A moment's hesitation at a road junction would not go unnoticed: 'You can get round the world in eighty days but you can't find your way across Oxford Street!'.

It was beginning to drive me up the pole and Clem Vallance, ever the opportunist, suggested that if I was going up one pole I might as well do the other. His idea was simplicity itself - on an atlas, anyway. A journey from North to South Poles along the 30 degree East line of longitude, chosen because it crossed the greatest amount of land.

I wanted to call it Pole to Pole by Public Transport, but owing to the absence of a bus route through the African bush or an Awayday across Antarctica, this had to be dismissed as wishful thinking. In the event, though we relied on aircraft to get us to the Poles themselves, we completed the rest of the journey overland, on a mixture of ships, trains, trucks, rafts, Ski-Doos, buses, barges, bicycles, balloons, 4-litre Landcruisers and horse-drawn carts.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Chapter: Introduction
  • Country/sea: England
  • Place: London
  • Book page no: 6

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