Pole to Pole by Michael Palin

Pole to Pole is the last of Michael Palin’s travel books that I have to read. (I still need to track down a copy of Hemingway Adventures in the future, but I may watch the series first as I’m not really into Hemingway). Set in the early 1990s (just before the fall of the USSR), Palin and the regular crew (including Basil and Clem) start at the North Pole with the aim of reaching the South Pole following the same longitude as closely as possible.

This takes them through Greenland, Finland, Estonia, the Ukraine (both part of the USSR at the time), Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa with an unexpected detour to Chile and finally, Antarctica. As always, the trip is not without its problems (digestive issues appear to occur quite often) and there are witch doctors, African animals and strange living quarters. I haven’t seen the series in its entirety but I think it would be interesting particularly from a retrospective point of view – there have been big changes in Europe (especially the Ukraine and Estonia) and Africa (eg. Zimbabwe) since this was made.

Once again, Palin can easily transport the reader to the time and place with interesting facts about the country as well as a great insight into the people.

Read it if: you can’t get any holidays for a long time.

8 out of 10.

6 thoughts on “Pole to Pole by Michael Palin

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  1. I remember that the trip occurred right before the fall of the U.S.S.R. (as you said in your review). If I remember right, everyone in the book was just so amazed that it was actually happening.

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