Trotting around the globe in 100 days

September 13, 1992|By Dick Sheridan | Dick Sheridan,New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- At 9 a.m. Wednesday, LeRoy Woodson Jr. and Ana Esperanza Nance met on the banks of the Hudson to catch a schooner to the Jersey side of the river.

From there, they were to hitch a car ride to the Jersey Turnpike, then hop into the cab of an 18-wheeler bound for Montreal.

That's the first stop on a whirlwind tour. They'll be back in 100 days. They're going around the world.

Such a journey doesn't sound like much of a challenge in this age of supersonic jet travel. But Mr. Woodson and Ms. Nance aren't allowed to fly -- or, indeed, to travel by any form of self-driven land or sea transport, either.

Mr. Woodson and Ms. Nance make up one of six teams from cities around the world -- including two from the United Kingdom and one apiece from Germany, France and Singapore -- that are taking part in the first-ever "Footsteps of Champagne Charlie Challenge" sponsored by the folks at Charles Heidsieck Champagnes.

The original Champagne Charlie -- more formally, Charles Camille Heidsieck -- was a renowned 19th-century party animal and globe-trotter. The scion of a noted wine-making clan from Reims, he traveled widely -- by train, ship and horseback -- to promote his family's Champagne.

Champagne Charlie hit New York City for the first time in 1852, and found the city was a market ripe for his family's output. By the time he died, at the age of 71 in 1893, his family's Charles Heidsieck Champagne was being consumed worldwide.

Celebrating Champagne Charlie's touring is the purpose of the Challenge, according to spokeswoman Lauren Snyder, who says each team member has been given a budget of about $14,000 for the trip.

The team making the quickest round-the-world trip will receive an all-expense-paid return visit for four to their favorite city, Ms. Snyder says. And an as-yet-unannounced "Bon Vivant" award awaits the team that has the "most adventures" over the course of the trip.

For Mr. Woodson, A 47-year-old magazine writer, war correspondent, author and budding novelist, his selection a month ago to be half of the American team came as a welcome relief.

"I had been trapped behind a computer in the library for the last three years, working on my novel," he says. "It will be great to get out again and see the world for myself rather than on CNN."

Ms. Nance, 23, a photographer whose work has appeared in a number of exhibitions around the country, was employed in a studio when she was selected.

"I see it as a very interesting opportunity to shoot in a competitive setting," she says, noting that she has roots in Spain and as a child often visited there and other countries in Europe.

On top of the challenge of having to complete their trip in the allotted time, Mr. Woodson and Ms. Nance face other challenges, as well.

For one thing, they have had to plot their own itinerary. "We've been very busy," says Mr. Woodson.

"We and the team from Singapore have the edge," he says. "Both of us are best situated geographically to get across the Pacific before winter sets in."

Mr. Woodson says travel experts he and Ms. Nance consulted when they began planning their global adventure all warned the pair that crossing the Pacific by ship could become a problem once harder weather hits.

So the twosome will soon board a freighter in Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco, and steam west for Japan and their next destination, Tokyo.

From the Japanese capital, Mr. Woodson and Ms. Nance will continue on to the remaining cities on their schedule: Hong Kong, Singapore, Moscow, Zurich, Vienna, Berlin, Brussels, Milan, Madrid, Copenhagen, Dublin, London -- then back to New York.

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