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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 70: 3 December

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysSometime in the night we must have passed through Cleveland and Buffalo and Rochester on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. We're in New York State, heading due east along the gap in the Appalachian Mountains formed by the Mohawk River. The map is studded with classical names - Ithaca, Utica, Seneca Falls, Rome and Syracuse, the city we're drawing into as Nigel and I, the non-meatless, dig into eggs and bacon and that strange burnt and watery substance that passes in America for coffee. Sitting across from us is a distinguished elderly man. He turns out to be 90 years old, an ex-air force commander called Skeel, who has traced back his Danish ancestors to the year A.D. 800 when they left Denmark and settled in East Anglia. He told us that this part of New York State, from Lake Ontario down to the Pennsylvania border, was given in gratitude to soldiers who had fought in the War of Independence. Most of the soldiers, wanting only to return to where they'd lived before, sold their share of the land, but a high-minded group of officers formed a co-operative to run the area, on the republican ideals of ancient Rome and Greece. According to Mr Skeel, naming the cities after the homes of these ideals 'was just about the only thing they ever did'.

Despite it being a Sunday this courteous gentleman was on his way to Albany for a board meeting of some industrial company of which he had remained a director. Albany, at the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers, presents a proud city skyline, as confident and serious as befits the capital of one of the most prosperous states of America. Here the 'Lake Shore Limited' splits, half continuing east to Massachusetts and Boston and half turning due south to New York along the Hudson Valley.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 70
  • Date: 3 December
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Albany - New York
  • Book page no: 233

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