Shortly after arriving in Spain, we drove all the way out to the Roses peninsula. It’s a 2 lane road about 18 km long with a rotary every km. If they were 4-way stop lights, the ride would’ve taken 45 minutes. As it was it took about 30. We drove all the way through the town of Roses and into a residential area before we saw the first sign for our hotel, “Hotel Vistabella *****”. Those stars don’t really represent reality. It’s a wonderful hotel, and perfect for the site. The Four Seasons would stick out like a sore thumb here, so this is really how it should be.
After we checked in, we walked down the hill to a beach-front cafe. It was packed because of the free Wi-fi. We had some beer, fried calamari, and milkshakes. Yummy beach food! Just as we were leaving to walk back up the hill, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” began playing in the background. I have no idea what that means…I just thought it was nice.
After a day trip to Italy we returned to Monte Carlo, and since we were in the car we thought it was a good time to do a (video taped) lap of the fabled Monaco Grand Prix circuit. I only clipped one mirror! When you see the video, you’ll see what I mean. By the way, the lap record is ~1:13. We did it in about 10:30. It should be fun to edit, although we may try to do another lap in the morning if the traffic seems lighter.
Dinner last night was at Stars’n’Bars, a pretty decent facsimile of a US sports bar, only with an F1 theme. It’s owned by a Texan, and we felt right at home. I didn’t tell Liz where we were going, although I did promise it was the only time we’d do something cheesy while we were here. The highlight of the meal wasn’t what was basically a TGI Fridays menu printed in French. No, it was the two Spanish gentlemen seated next to us. They could only be described as “Euro Lizards.” After we left we made up stories about the shady business dealings in which they were involved. For the rest of our lives we’ll be telling stories about the metric tonne of smack they just smuggled into Europe aboard an America’s Cup yacht.
Now we’re off to another famous F1 haunt: the Tip Top Bar. Rumor has it this is where the drivers hang out when the F1 circus leaves town. Since they all live here for tax reasons, it seems reasonable enough. We’re also going to stop into the Casino. We’ll be sure to post some pictures later tonight.
F. Scott said it best: The rich are different than you and me. Never have I felt that sentiment more acutely than upon my arrival in the Riviera. I grew up with a modicum of privilege, and I’ve known some of the wealthier people in the places that I’ve lived. But none of that could prepare me for the gratuitousness of Port Hercules in Monaco.
And the display doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. Every third car is a Ferrari, and more often than not one of the other two is a Bentley. I’m not sure if there was more money tied up in the wheels in Monaco this week, or at Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance. And don’t read any bitterness into any of this post. I thoroughly enjoyed the show. If I couldn’t be in Monterrey this week, Monaco is the next best place.
Here’s an analogy that makes sense to me since it’s Fantasy Footbal Draft season. If wealth were football ability, Monaco would be the Pro Bowl. You may have gone to high school with one or two guys who made it to the next level, Division 1A (USC, UT, Michigan, etc.). And if you went to one of those schools, you may have known one or two guys that were so good that they went to the next level, the NFL. And if you were to hang in those circles, you might be fortunate to know one or two guys per team that could be considered the elite. That’s pretty much what Monaco is like, if wealth were football ability.
We have a friend, Zeo, who collects citizenships like most people collect watches. He was just granted French citizenship (his wife is Parisian).
While having lunch at a cafe overlooking the Seine, Liz informed me that Zeo & I need to “get something going in Paris” so she can do this every day.
When the subject of jet lag came up many of the more advanced travelers that we call friends suggested that the best way to beat it is to just power through the first day. That’s what we did. It’s bed time now (11:30 p.m.), but we’ve had a very busy day. A brief overview:
- A 10 minute dash from FiDi to SFO
- A 4.5 hour flight to Chicago, which was experiencing thunderstorms
- A 30 second layover in Chicago where I was accosted by a Francophone American for having the audacity to stand next to my wife in line to board the plane.
- An extremely pleasant ride across the pond with a cabin at 1/3rd capacity. The attendant staff were extremely attentive and jovial.
- A virgin ride on the Paris Metro from the Etoile to the Louvre (amazingly efficient).
- A not-so-mad dash through the Sully wing of the Louvre for the all the goodies one is supposed to see. My favorite was the room behind the Mona Lisa. It’s an absolutely amazing red and gold leaf dome(?) that I’ll post about later.
- My first Parisian cafe experience at a place halfway between the Louvre and Notre Dame (Pont du Neuf).
- A leisurely stroll through the Musee d’Orsay.
- More cafe life in Saint Germain, this time at Les Deux Magots (hope that doesn’t mean what I think it does).
- More strolling the streets and stopping to drink here and there
- A cab to the Trocadero to see the Eiffel Tower glittering at night
That’s all for now. Elf needs sleep badly.