Blogger Piotr Zajac introduces us to his favourite Bond locations.
The World's Most Travelled Secret Agent
007 is an avid traveller, both on and off the job. The same goes for Polish photographer and Bond fan Piotr Zajac who combined these two passions and set up a location blog around the James Bond movies. We had a chat with him to find out more.
What sparked your interest in hunting for Bond locations?
"If you point at random at any part of the globe, it is very probable that 007 was there. James Bond movies are famous for amazing filming locations. It is the longest film series in the history of cinema, so the list of interesting places to visit inspired by these movies is extremely long."
"Some people say that discovering the secrets of filmmakers destroys magic of the cinema. For example, in Spectre there was a car chase sequence in Rome. It began at the Palazzo Cardenza and ended in the Tibre river. In reality, the first part was filmed at Blenheim Palace near Oxford in England and the rest was filmed in Italy. I went to both places. I was standing at the entrance to the Palace in England that was the virtual entrance to Rome."
"When watching that sequence again I could recognize at exactly which second 007 literally jumped from England to Italy. Once I had made some interesting discoveries and photographed many film locations, I decided to share them with other film and travel enthusiast through my blog."
How do you select and find locations?
"I watch behind the scenes clips on DVDs and have many books in my collection. When I plan vacations or business trips, I check to see if my destination is close to any of James Bond locations and I just adjust the plan to follow 007. Sometimes it inspires which route I take, or even which street to walk along when visiting a city.
Sometimes it is hard to find the exact filming location. For example, I had to visit Siena in Italy twice to find the place where Bond jumped from the roof onto the balconies in Quantum of Solace. I was comparing photos of buildings that I took in Siena with movie frames. After a long investigation and seeking tips online, I found out that there were balconies built specifically for the movie. This year I returned to Siena and I finally found the place!"
What are the TOP 3 Bond locations you have travelled to and why?
"My number one would be Rome in Italy. It is not only because of the beauty of that city but also because I could piece together how the car chase for Spectre was filmed. I was actually in Rome when it was shot, so watching the sequence in the cinema I remembered how thrilling it was to see the Aston Martin DB10 and Jaguar C-X75 chasing each other along Tiber river."
"I also enjoyed visiting Venice in Italy. It is not only a unique city, but also the location of three James Bond movies: From Russia with Love, Moonraker and Casino Royale. It was here that I could really feel how different the movie world is from reality. There is a sequence in Moonraker with Bond visiting Drax's factory. To visit all the places in Venice where it was filmed I had to walk a few kilometers. Whereas for 007 it was just a few steps."
"Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic is also beautiful. There is an amazing promenade with fascinating buildings, surrounded by forest. It was the main location of Casino Royale. The exterior and part of the interior of the casino was filmed in the former spa house."
Are there any Bond-related experiences you would love to see offered to fans on location?
"There are some Bond-related offers such as trips to movie locations, but mostly to commonly known places. There are lot of other interesting, but not well known 007 locations. It's not that easy to find them, so it would be great to have directions and descriptions on site for Bond fans. On the other hand it is exciting to find places that are not well known. It also helps readers to find my blog!
What's next on your list?
"I want to return to Prague in the Czech Republic to visit the National Museum. It was under renovation when I was there last time. The lobby of the hotel in Venice in Casino Royale was filmed there. There are plenty of fabulous Bond locations very close together in Switzerland, Italy and Austria that I plan to visit soon."
Are there any Bond locations you would love to visit but might never be able to?
"I would love to be on the location during filming, but it is not that easy to get access. My dream is to be a guest on set in the Pinewood Studios. For me, following in the footsteps of James Bond is not only about visiting places, but also about meeting the people who created that world.
As a photographer I was lucky to capture Daniel Craig at the premiere of Skyfall in Berlin, and Pierce Brosnan at European Film Awards gala in Wroclaw. I hope to meet all actors who played James Bond."
Your favourite Bond movie?
"Casino Royale is the Bond movie that I like the most. This film has everything - a great plot, amazing locations and music."
Your favourite James Bond actor?
"I have more than one. Sir Sean Connery is important for me because he defined that character as the first 007. I also like the Bond played by Sir Roger Moore for his specific sense of humor. Daniel Craig was the first actor who played 007 whom I met, so I feel some kind of additional emotional bond with his Bond."
For more information check out Piotr's blog and Instagram.