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Question Time – in conversation with Pirita Maunula & Mika Hyyrynen

Thinking about how wonderful a relationship would be where your partner is as crazy about 007 as you? Well, Finnish Bond fans Pirita Maunula and Mika Hyyrynen have found their love for 007 as well as for each other. On top of that, they travel to Bond locations and keep a meticulous online diary – meet the ‘007 Travelers’.

The Bond Bulletin: Pirita and Mika, you are frequent travellers and love to visit Bond locations, hence the name of your blog. How did you become Bond Fans and why did you decide to focus mainly on blogging about the literary and film locations?

Pirita Maunula & Mika Hyyrynen

Pirita: I was maybe 12 years old when I started to watch Bond films, and many years later I found the films again and watched them with my friends. After I met Mika, we realized that we both are Bond fans, and after dating for 3 months we had our first Bond trip together. That trip was to Karlovy Vary, to see the Casino Royale locations.

We did not plan to start a blog at all, but we both like to document the things we do, like movies, concerts, trips and things like that. We have photos and files on paper and we always wrote some travel stories of our trips, just for our own fun. Our friends knew that and one of them suggested, that we should have a blog about our travels that everyone can read. So we started a blog and write mainly in English because we have many foreign friends. Today, we write also in Finnish too.

Mika: I was about the same age and the first movie I saw on big screen was Octopussy in 1983. After that, I started to study books and of course when films were available on video as VHS cassettes, it was much easier to watch films several times.

The Bond Bulletin: Many of your blog entries read like a travel diary, giving people a great overview of which hotel to stay in, how to get around or how much things cost. Do you blog on location or are you putting the story together when you are back home?

Pirita : Thank you. Our travel stories are actually a travel diary, that is the way it started and how we documented our trips and still do. We put the travel story together at home, but we use social media on location.

The Bond Bulletin: What was your absolute favourite location? Did one of them give you goose bumps?

Pirita: My favourite filming location is Piz Gloria for sure, and the best literary location is The Rock Hotel in Gibraltar (DoubleShot by Raymond Benson, 2000). Both places gave me goose bumps and those are the locations to visit all over again!

Mika: Piz Gloria is number one at the moment. I would like to visit Istanbul in summer time and Iceland in winter time. But there are so many other interesting places on earth as well that would be lovely to visit.

“Sometimes we are the source for the media and sometimes they want to know if we know something before they do.”

The Bond Bulletin: What future travel reports can your readers look forward to? Any particular location that has not been discovered yet?

Pirita & Mika: Our next travel reports are from Gibraltar and Spain. We visited fabulous Cadiz – which is also a favourite Bond location for my daughter Aava. We also stayed in Rota, Malaga, Marbella and they all are Bond related locations, from books, films or otherwise. For us there are still many locations to visit. I would like to visit the Bahamas. Also it will be exciting to see Bond 25 locations, what will they really be?

The Bond Bulletin: You both live in Finland where you are the first and only James Bond bloggers. I bet the media often contacts you when they need insights about all things 007?

Pirita & Mika: Yes, at the moment we are the only ones in Finland. The media has contacted us about our blog, especially because it is a rare blog in Finland. Many newspapers and magazines have written about us, also one of the biggest radio stations in Finland interviewed us. Sometimes we are the source for the media and sometimes they want to know if we know something before they do.

“He would drink Finlandia Vodka, chase villains with a reindeer sleigh and of course his love nest with a Bond girl would be in Kakslauttanen´s iglu hotel.”

The Bond Bulletin: Bond actually visits Finland’s capital Helsinki in the graphic novel ‘VARGR’. Was the city well represented?

Pirita & Mika: Interesting question. In the novel ‘VARGR’ Helsinki is not featured much, just a couple of places we recognize. However, in the book ‘Icebreaker’ (John Gardner, 1983), Bond is in Helsinki and its hotels. His lady friend Paula Vacker lives in the centre of Helsinki and Bond visits her. In the book Finland is generally well represented, since 007 visits Lapland (Rovaniemi and Salla).

The Bond Bulletin: What arguments would you put to the Bond producers to feature Finland as a location in a future Bond film?

Pirita & Mika: Our suggestion to the Bond producers would be to take Bond to Lapland where he would try to relax in real Finnish Sauna but have a fight there with a mystery villainess. He would drink Finlandia Vodka, chase villains with a reindeer sleigh and of course his love nest with a Bond girl would be in Kakslauttanen´s iglu hotel. They would stare at the Northern Lights and hear the wolves howl – experience the magic of Lapland. All that should work, and the beautiful and pure nature of Finland.

Could this be one of 007’s future love nests? According to Pirita and Mika, it should be – Photo Copyright: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

The Bond Bulletin: Reading through your restaurant reviews, I asked myself the question, what typical Finnish delicacy would James Bond put on his list of favourite dishes? Is there something in particular that would appeal to his taste?

Pirita & Mika: Karjalanpaisti! (Karelian stew) It is a delicious and traditional Finnish food and Bond did actually eat that in the book ‘James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007′ (John Pearson, 1973). Also “paistetut silakat”, roasted herring would maybe appeal to his taste, at least he eats salmon in many Bond books.

The Bond Bulletin: Being a couple, do you have different tastes regarding the Bond films? Different actors you both prefer?

Pirita Maunula: Yes, my favourite Bond film is Live And Let Die, and my favourite Bond actor is Pierce Brosnan.

Mika Hyyrynen: Tough one. I love them all, but if I have to pick one, it is For Your Eyes Only. Wonderful locations (Korfu in summertime and Cortina in wintertime). And it is maybe the tightest of the Moore films anyway. When it comes to actors, I can’t pick one. They all make a brilliant job as 007, everyone is a bit different and that is the flavour of it also.

The Bond Bulletin: From your perspective, has the Bond franchise the potential to survive in the long run or are there things that need to change in order for it to stay relevant?

Pirita & Mika: We think Bond will always be popular and every year new fans will discover the franchise. It will survive if the character remains as it is but 007 will need more interesting gadgets and new locations and the character needs to be deepened.

The Bond Bulletin: Looking ahead to the upcoming Bond 25 and the locations rumoured to feature in it, how excited are you for the film? Would you say some countries, like Italy f.e., are overused?

Pirita & Mika: We are very excited! Can´t wait to travel to new locations. It would be great to be on location while the filming is ongoing. Well, Italy is a beautiful country and there is much to see, so why not film there if the location hunters find new great places there? However we would like to see locations, never seen before in Bond films. Let´s say….Finland (laughs).

The Bond Bulletin: Let’s assume, you could switch places with two characters in the same Bond film? Who would you be?

Pirita: I would be Elektra King! Clever and tricky, hahaa!

Mika: If we stick to the same film, then I would be Valentin Zukovsky. He is at least funny and he owns the casino. I would put all in!

Good choices! A win of one million dollars would surely cover your travels for the next few years. Anyway, we wish Pirita & Mika all the very best in all their upcoming journeys and thank them for taking the time for this interview.

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