So, we’re planning a journey from the northernmost pub on the planet, to the southernmost. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Here’s what’s involved:
Firstly, we’ve had to figure out exactly where the planet’s northernmost and southernmost bars are located. According to our research, the northernmost bar, and hence journey’s start, is the hotel bar of an obscure former mining settlement called Pyramiden, on the remote island of Svalbard, deep in the Arctic about 400 miles north of Tromso, Norway. Founded in 1910, Pyramiden was once a bustling mining settlement of around 1,000 residents, and boasted, among other things, the world’s most northerly swimming pool, grand piano…and bar. The settlement ceased to be viable after the fall of the Soviet Union resulted in an end to the subsidies required to maintain this Soviet outpost on the edge of Europe, and the town was abandoned in 1998. Since then, it has survived as a ghost town, frozen in time amid the permafrosts and polar bears. However, for a few months each summer, the settlement’s hotel is opened to accommodate passing adventurers, scientists and tour groups, and provide them a place to sleep amid the ruins; and a place to get a drink in the evening – the hotel bar.
So there’s the starting point. The ghost town of Pyramiden, located 78 degrees north – or to put it another way, 120 miles further north than Top Gear reached on their rather awesome ‘North Pole’ expedition. But what of the finishing point? This is in the barren wilderness of Tierra del fuego, at the southernmost tip of the South American continent, where the southernmost ‘licensed premises’ on the planet lies.
But how to get between these two arbitrary points on the world’s surface?
Well, that’s where the fun starts! The first leg of the journey will be from Pyramiden to Longyearbyen, capital of the Svalbard Archipelago. There are no roads linking the two locations, but fortunately the terrain means there are a few exciting options for the leg one’s more of transport – sea kayak or snowmobile being two of the more likely options.
From Longyearbyen, the expedition encounters its next obstacle – the small matter of a 400 mile trip across the Arctic Ocean to mainland Norway. This will be the first of several ocean crossings, and dictates the starting date of the journey, as sea ice blocks access to and from the islands for a large portion of the year.
Once the expedition reaches mainland Europe, normal service is resumed – road trip mode is engaged. Over the course of a few weeks we’ll travel down Norway’s stunning Arctic highway and across Northern Europe, eventually finding ourselves back in the UK, all set to ship the expedition’s TVR across the Atlantic, before we follow it across the pond
After waving at the Statue of Liberty as we arrive in New York, Pub2Pub returns to its road trip roots, driving across the States and down to Mexico. Central America promises to be a fascinating place to experience, a heady trip down the pan-American highway, with its mix of beaches, volcanoes, rainforests and ruins which only ends in Panama, at the impenetrable Darien Gap.
Said 150 mile section of rainforest acts as a natural barrier separating Central and South America, and necessitates another aquatic excursion, shipping both car and crew across the water to Colombia, from where our road heads south. Equador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina will all pass beneath our wheels as we push on, taking in such incredible landscapes as the Atacama Desert, Machu Pichu, the Bolivian Salt Flats and Patagonian Grasslands in the process. And so the expedition arrives at the most southerly city on Earth – Ushuaia.
And from there, Pub2Pub will begin its final leg, taking to the water for one last time as it crosses the Strait of Magellan, to Tierra Del Fuego, where nestling not far from the storm-strafed waters of Cape Horn, the last licensed premises on the planet awaits.
So there you have it – the Pub2Pub expedition. 30,000 miles, 22 countries, 3 continents, several ocean crossings and more awesomeness than you can shake a stick at.