Sunday Territorian 6 Oct 2019
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
40 ESCAPE SUNDAY OCTOBER 6 2019 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 YOURE very sure of yourself, arentyou? Suppose I were to kill you for athrill? A film clip of actor Diana Rigg is unexpected ly threatening me from within a mirror. But thats not the only surprising thing about the mens loos atop the Schilthorn, a towering peak in the Swiss Alps. The door to the mens room bears an image of secret agent James Bond holding a gun, and each cubicle door has the frosted silhouette of a Bond girl (Im told the ladies loos have male figures). Tasteful or tacky, or perhaps a knowing wink to the high camp of the 1960s Bond movies? You be the judge. Though changing times have marooned those early spy flicks in a blokey past, theres no denying they were entertaining. And none more so than On Her Majestys Secret Service, which was filmed here in 1969. Theres an Australian link to that movie, namely the one and only outing as 007 by actor George Lazenby. Though OHMSS had mixed reviews on release, in recent times its become regarded as one of the best of the series, due to the excellent skiing chase scenes and the plot twist by which Bond marries then tragically loses his new wife (played by Rigg). You can see why its production team chose the Schilthorn for the HQ of the movies villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Its still an adventure to get here from the valley floor at Stechelberg, its taken me four cable cars via Mrren and Birg to reach the revolving restaurant Piz Gloria at 2970 metres above sea level. Its an impressive ride, above craggy outcrops of rock protruding from snow. On a clear day from the summit, theres a view of numerous mountains including the Eiger, Mnch, and Jungfrau. Today, however, Im immersed in a whited-out world of swirling snow. No matter, because Im really here to see Bond World, the permanent exhibition devoted to the making of On Her Majestys Secret Service. First, however, its time for a late breakfast in the revolving restaurant; or more precisely, the James Bond Brunch. Im not sure whats particularly Bondish about the brunch, though its an excellent spread of hot and cold dishes and includes a glass or two of bubbly. It takes a leisurely 45 minutes for the restaurant to revolve 360 degrees, treating diners to a splendid view (when available). Though half a century has passed, the restaurant still has some movie fixtures, including golden lamps on pillars, and the decorative stairwell grille through which Diana Rigg pulled a villains head. Two levels down is the mother lode, the exhibition itself, with six sections arranged in a circuit. In addition to text explaining production details, theres a lot of gimmicky fun. After picking up a red telephone receiver to hear a briefing from M, I pass a cut-out of Miss Moneypenny, then enter the next room to be confronted by a gigantic suspended kilt. Stepping beneath the sporran, I discover a screen playing an interview with Lazenby, reminiscing about his time as Bond. The key exhibit in this area is the cut-off front section of a helicopter, as used in the movie to transport the disguised secret agent to Piz Gloria. Sitting in the cockpit, the visitor can use the joystick to fly up the mountain via a video projection. There are plenty of other fun elements to explore, including a screen which allows you to paste your face on to actors in scenes from the movie. One room is dedicated to its furious bobsleigh chase sitting inside a bright orange bobsleigh, you angle your body in time with film footage to produce your own highlights reel. The final stop is a cinema which shows clips from OHMSS along with short documentaries about its making. Afterwards, I wander through the souvenir shop and buy some shiny Bondbranded keyrings as gifts, and chuckle at a dodgy snowdome that makes 007 look like Mr Bean. Before leaving, I step on to the terrace where Blofelds guests tried their hands at the sport of curling. Though visibility is still limited, Im stirred, but not shaken. The author was a guest of Switzerland Tourism. Switzerland Its an adventure to reach Piz Gloria, the revolving restauranton Schilthorn, 2970m above sea level, writes TIM RICHARDS GETTING THERE Emirates flies via Dubai to Zurich. See emirates.com. From Zurich catch a train to Interlaken, from where the Schilthorn is accessible by local transport. See sbb.ch. STAYING THERE Hotel Alpenruh is located in Mrren on the cable car route up to the Schilthorn, with comfortable rooms and scenic views. See alpenruh-muerren.ch. TOURING THERE The return cable car fare from Stechelberg to the Schilthorn (including entry to Bond World) is CHF 105 for adults; free with the Swiss Travel Pass (see myswitzerland.com/rail). A package ticket including the James Bond Brunch starts from CHF 115. MORE schilthorn.ch, myswitzerland.com. ESCAPE ROUTE
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