In the Footsteps of Champagne Charlie: 20 Years On

In the Footsteps … the night before

The Night They Invented Champagne! Tim & Heather toast the next 100 days on the roof of Hotel Vancouver - Jack Wong photo

The Night They Invented Champagne! A slightly younger Tim & Heather toast the next 100 days on the roof of Hotel Vancouver – Jack Wong photo

Hard to believe, but exactly 20 years ago today, on September 1, 1993, my wife, Heather, and I embarked on “In the Footsteps of Champagne Charlie” —in what turned out to be, truly, the adventure of a lifetime.

“In the Footsteps…” was a 100 day race around the world, using only ships and trains, as a promotion for Charles Heidsieck Champagne.

Needless to say, we got talking about it last night and started re-living some of the experiences of this amazing odyssey that took us across four or five oceans and a score of countries in 100 days, across North America, the Atlantic, Europe, Russia, China and Japan, down to Singapore, eventually to Fremantle, Sydney and Auckland, and back home across the Pacific.

Along the way, I was filing stories weekly for the Vancouver Courier. (The North Shore News didn’t think it was that interesting, so they didn’t take them!)  Sending was easier said than done, in those pre-email and internet days, when even getting a computer fax to work depended on having the right phone jack for the country—or a satellite connection on board ship. CBC Vancouver also kept tabs on us, as well as a few others …

We met many remarkable people along the way. And had lots of help from quite a few who’ve since become lifelong friends.

Over the next three months I’ll post about the trip when the mood hits—especially if and when the topic seems still relevant.  In the meantime, the image above was taken on the roof of the Hotel Vancouver, at our farewell soirée on the evening before we left—by hovercraft to Victoria, then hydrofoil to Seattle, The Coast Starlight (Amtrak) to Los Angeles, and onwards to El Paso (Amtrak’s Sunset Limited), before crossing the Mexican border into Juarez …

More TK






By | 2018-01-21T15:05:24+00:00 September 1st, 2013|Uncategorized|3 Comments

About the Author:

Tim has been covering the food and wine revolution for about 20 kilos. Count 15 kg alone thanks to the blossoming cuisine and wine culture of British Columbia, Canada. Tim’s hallmark is seeking out and recommending value wines from BC and around the world that offer quality at every level. He also scopes out noteworthy restaurants that live up to their promises—and often over deliver. Readers depend on the Hired Belly for his “Belly’s Best” and “Belly’s Budget Best” picks to help them find the right wine for the occasion. He writes, tweets and shoots his own images for columns in the Vancouver Courier and North Shore News. He also contributes to WHERE Vancouver magazine, as well as to several other publications. They include Taste magazine, Tidings Magazine, and Montecristo. His columns are frequently picked up by major newspapers across Canada. Tim is a frequent judge for wine competitions, such as Vancouver Magazine International Wine Awards. He is a founding judge of The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. He is frequently invited to judge at The BC Wine Awards, and others. Tim has traveled to taste in many of the world’s leading wine regions, most recently in Burgundy, Argentina and Chile.


  1. Mireille Sauve September 1, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    OMG – this is FABULOUS!! I totally remember you two setting off on that trip – and the wonderful stories that rolled in as a result! Thanks for the burst of nostalgia, Tim – looking forward to more to come.

  2. […] Reserve… It’s 20 years since we were introduced to Charles on our once-in-a-lifetime race around the world. It’s still not only a sentimental favourite but also impresses us every time we taste it—as […]

  3. […] Everyone (of a certain age!) has their own special memories of The Roof. My foremost is the night before we left on our round the world adventure with Charles Heidsieck Champagne, when the hotel saw us off in style. […]

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