Why sit here sipping on my decaf tea, driving myself mad fretting over the economy, when I could be sipping cocktails in the crystal blue Caribbean, driving along a perilously snake-like Italian mountain road in a bullet-riddled Aston Martin, and making some sinister bad guys regret they ever double-crossed my path.
I’m not Bond, James Bond. I can tell because I drink my martinis stirred, not shaken; I fly coach, not private jet, and I can’t expense my travel receipts to Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But watching the Bond films always makes me wish I was Bond. (Yes, even the collapsing scaffolding parts.) I want the yachts, the cars, the gadgets, the beautiful clothes, the abs, and most of all—the spectacular backdrops.
In the latest Bond flick, Quantum of Solace, Bond chases bad guys—and revenge—around some seriously spectacular backdrops in Europe, and Central and South America. Living Bond’s globetrotting lifestyle would cost you a pretty penny, but who’s to say you can’t borrow his dangerously delicious lifestyle for a few days every now and then by vacationing in his favorite places.
Photo source: A&A2005  on flickr (cc)
According to storylines and press previews, an important scene in Quantum of Solace takes place in and around the stunning Opera House and unique floating stage of the Bregenz Festival in Austria. Bregenz is a picturesque town in the westernmost province of Austria, famous for its annual summer opera festival, and soon to be famous for its Bond connections. Bond saw the passionate opera Tosca, by Giacomo Puccini, while he was in town, but next year’s festival and stage will host Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida from July 22 to August 23. The festival already attracts thousands of opera lovers each year, and with this kind of publicity, it might attract a few Bond lovers next year, too. Reserve your tickets at Bregenzer Festspiele , or just check out the webcam .
This Is for Your Eyes Only:
Hotel Weisses Kreuz , just minutes from Lake Constance and Bregenz’s floating stage, is a good base for exploring the historic town. It’s also rumored to have hosted the cast and crew of Quantum of Solace while on location there.
Photo source: Wikipedia 
The twenty-second film in the Bond series sees Bond return to Latin America (he was last there as Roger Moore in 1979’s Moonraker) and will likely influence tourists to consider Panama over other more obvious/popular Central American destinations, like Guatemala and Costa Rica. Quantum of Solace includes scenes shot in Panama City’s Unesco-protected World Heritage Site, Casco Viejo (Old Town), which doubles as Bolivia for the movie. Founded in 1673, Casco Viejo was the heart of Panamanian life for nearly three hundred years and is protected for its unique legacy of Spanish, French, and American colonial, neoclassical, and art nouveau architecture. Today, it’s home to some of the best sidewalk cafes and restaurants of Panama City.
Another “hot” spot to seek Bond-like solace is Panama City’s National Institute of Culture, which is dressed up as the Andean Grand Hotel for the movie. (Spoiler: the sultry mix of Latin rhythms and rum cocktails works its wonders here for Bond and his new lady-agent friend!)
Filming also took place on the other end of the Panama Canal, in Colón (representing Haiti) and on a private island off the Caribbean coast.
Heck, You Only Live Twice:
British tour operator, Journey Latin America , offers a “Bond In Panama” tour that includes three nights at the Canal House (where Daniel Craig stayed), tour of the Casco Viejo, half-day transit of the Canal, and time at “Bond-style” lodges on the Caribbean and in the rainforest. The package last eight nights and costs from £2,372 ($3881) plus flights to the UK)—still considerably less than Bond’s monthly dry cleaning tab.
Alternately, Latin America Collection  offers an eight-day “Best of Panama” tour that hits all of Panama’s beautiful sights including Panama City, the Panama Canal, Boquete, and Bocas del Toro, for $1,315.
Photo source:ESO.org 
While other movie-goers will be drooling over Daniel Craig and his co-star, Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko, I already know I’ll be drooling over the extraordinary landscapes of Chile. Quantum of Solace reaches its climax in the barren Atacama Desert in northern Chile, which doubled as Andean Bolivia for the movie. There was drama off screen here, too, when a local mayor stormed the set to protest that Chileans were being passed off as Bolivians in the movie. (Note to self: take tea with passionate locals.) Set in the Mars-like landscape of the desert, La Silla Paranal Observatory, one of the world’s most advanced observatories in the world, and Paranal’s La Residencia, a hotel built for visiting astronomers (and secret agents when they’re in town, too), are true desert oases and the perfect hiding place for Bond’s villain, Dominic Greene.
Get a View to a Kill:
We can’t have Daniel or Olga, but we can have Chile. Adventure Life  offers four- to six-day tours of Chile’s Atacama Desert, visiting a variety of locations in this incredible region, like an archaeological tour at the Altiplano villages, Museo Gustavo Le Paige museum, the Valley of the Moon at sunset, and the Lasana valley and its preserved petroglyphs. Tours begin at $930.
Visits to Paranal are available on the last two weekends of every month and are free to attend. However, you must register in advance .
You can’t stay at La Residencia, but Hotel de Larache  is the next best thing. It’s a recently renovated hotel set in the Atacama Desert—it even has an observatory of its own.
Photo source: Mr. Hyde  on flickr (cc)
James Bond is a British cultural phenomenon; he has undoubtedly enhanced the reputation of her Majesty’s Secret Service and her home city throughout the world. London has been featured in many Bond movies, but my favorite is the scene in The World is Not Enough, where Pierce Brosnan as Bond bursts out of an exploding MI6 building in a speedboat and starts a high-speed chase down the River Thames. You can try this or just take a less-dangerous three-and-a-half hour London Taxi Tour  of famous Bond locations including MI6, the Millennium Dome, and Buckingham Palace. Be sure to leave time for a chat and photo with Daniel Craig as Bond in Madame Tussauds. 
Go for Gold(finger):
To celebrate the one hundred year anniversary of Bond-creator Ian Fleming’s birth, several five-star hotels in London are offering a range of packages just in time for the latest Bond installment.
Within a short walk from exclusive Bond Street shopping, West End theatres, and St. James’s, Brown’s Hotel  would seem a fitting choice for any Bond-esque escape. Brown’s Bond package includes a hardback copy of Sebastian Faulks’ new James Bond novel, Devil May Care, and tickets to the Imperial War Museum’s major exhibition —For Your Eyes Only—celebrating Fleming’s life.
The Ritz London  made an appearance with Sean Connery in 1963’s From Russia with Love and you can make your own appearance there now, too, thanks to their “James Bond Experience” package. Guests receive complimentary membership to the Ritz Club, one of the worlds most exclusive privately-owned gaming clubs situated in the former ballroom of the hotel. You also get a pre-dinner “James Bond Cocktail” in the Rivoli Bar, two tickets to the Imperial War Museum’s Ian Fleming exhibition, and a four-course dinner for two in the Ritz Restaurant.
If Dr. No (a.k.a your accountant) is traveling with you, you can skip the luxury hotel rooms and go straight for the luxury hotel bars. The cozy Dukes Bar  of the newly renovated Dukes Hotel (set in a quiet cul-de-sac off St. James Street) is the perfect choice. Bond’s preferred cocktail, a martini “shaken, not stirred,” was inspired by Fleming’s regular visits here. Order the Vesper Martini—named after Bond’s girlfriend in Casino Royale, Vesper Lynd.
Forget a license to kill (I prefer to live and let live, anyway); I’d settle for Bond’s passport, or heck—even just to follow in his action-packed footsteps.