cover image Pole to Pole with Michael Palin

Pole to Pole with Michael Palin

Michael Palin. BBC Books, $29.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-563-36283-8

The ultimate travel adventure of the jet age may be to journey from the North Pole to the South Pole by every means but airplane. British actor-writer-TV producer Palin (a member of the Monty Python troupe) rose to the challenge in 1991, when he and a BBC-TV crew undertook a five-month trip along the 30 east line of longitude. Through 17 countries they traveled by bus, train, barge, ship, bicycle, car, balloon and raft; when prearranged transport failed them in the last leg of their journey, from South Africa to Antarctica, there was nothing for it but to take a plane. While the sheer mechanics of getting from one place to the next occupied most of the time, Palin vividly reports on the almost daily changes in panorama and the acutely experienced differences in climate, culture, politics, plumbing, lodgings, food and mores. He recoups the keen sense of fun--and of trauma--during the days of this Grand Tour. The narrative is witty and Palin's exuberance contagious. Crew photographer Basil Pao illustrates with a profusion of seductive color shots. (May)