We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. Click here to find out more. Allow cookies

arrow Register here

Forgotten password?

Around the World in 80 Days

Day 5: 29 September

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysThe haze has cleared and the sea is a terrific turquoise. Overnight we've changed course and are now heading due East (which is always welcome news for this circumnavigator) and I can see dry straw-coloured coastline on either side.

No one is lingering over breakfast today, for we are now only a few miles away from one of the most spectacular experiences of the journey - the passage of the Corinth Canal. Its construction began just nine years after Phileas Fogg set out and was completed in 1893. It saves 200 miles sailing and the Espresso Egitto is the largest boat it will take.

Our engines slow for the first time since we left Venice. Two small boats are now approaching us, one the tugboat that guides us through, the other the boat containing the pilots - not one, but three - who will assist the captain. They grab the rope ladder and scramble aboard. They're dressed in well-pressed chinos. The senior of them is elderly, bald with grey hair, then there's a younger man with a wild, Gaddafi hair-style and another, rather distinguished, like a statesman. There's a considerable and quite exciting air of expectation about this operation which, as Roger says, is rather like threading something through the eye of a needle. Gradually everybody on the boat, even the most laid-back sun worshipper, even the catatonic lad on the till in the bar who hasn't taken his eyes off the television for 36 hours, gathers on the rails to watch our progress. The narrow cut ahead of us looks unreal, like a Cecil B. De Mille special effect.
Choose another day from Around the World in 80 Days


  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 5
  • Date: 29 September
  • Country/sea: Greece
  • Place: Corinth Canal
  • Book page no: 29

Bookmarks will keep your place in one or more series. But you'll need to register and/or log in.