Wednesday, October 6, 2010
When a friend invites you to a party in Monaco for the christening of his new yacht, it’s hard to say no. In fact, a resounding ‘yes’ is more likely the response. It was certainly mine.
A few months ago I received just such an invitation. My flights were booked within an hour, and accommodation and other plans followed.
It wasn’t just the party that made me excited to go to Monaco, though. The rainy London weather had me in dire need of vitamin D, and I couldn’t wait to spend a weekend relaxing on the Mediterranean. Having been to Monaco twice before, I didn’t feel pressured to visit the palace or do many of the touristy things, but there was one place I did want to go: Monte Carlo.
Dripping with money, the hilltop town had twice thwarted my attempts to visit its famous casino. The first time I went I didn’t have my passport to prove that I was 18. The second time I went I was wearing flip-flops, which in Monte Carlo classified me as some sort of casino-unworthy peasant. This time I was determined to get in. And I did. And then I found out that they charge 10 euros to get beyond the foyer. Bleh. I enjoyed the beautiful decor in the entry area and then went on my way.
In this case, ‘on my way’ meant meandering the streets of Monaco. I walked past rows of luxury goods stores, through pleasant parks, alongside opulent old buildings, and up and down steep steps that reminded me of those in San Francisco.
In the evenings I met up with my friends. Friday night we all went to a bar called Zelo’s on the waterfront. The main event took place on Saturday night in Cap d’Ail, the French town on the western border of Monaco. My friends threw a very impressive party on their beautiful boat, and we were all so busy dancing, eating, talking, and enjoying the evening that none of us got back to our hotels until five o’clock in the morning.
Needless to say, my last day in Monaco was a bit of a wash. After waking up at 8:30am to some loud sounds outside my room, I relaxed on the private beach at my hotel until it was time to go to the airport. My easyJet flight from Nice to London was delayed (third time in a row), but I got home with just enough energy to crawl into bed and dream that I was back by the sea on a yacht in the radiant Riviera sun.