|After an horrendous 7.5 hours of travel, where we learnt that Italians may be able to build a house on the side of a cliff but they can't get a train to run on schedule, we arrived in Monte-Carlo some 2 hours late. The cause of our delayed arrival was due to two late trains, one of which caused us to miss our our high-speed train and force us onto a regional train that stopped, at every single stop between Genova, Italy and Monte Carlo! It was just painful!
Thankfullly, our hotel is only a 5 minute walk from the train station and is palatial, compared to the other places we've been staying! Dumped our bags, admired the view of the Palace and Cote d'Azure from our balcony and headed off in search of all things Monte Carlo.
About ten minutes from our hotel and as you'd expect from the front of the Monte Carlo Casino, we stumbled across our first Porsche. Must have been too early for the high rollers to be out of bed, as they seemed to be 'resorting' to putting BMW's out the front too! The front of the casino was also still sporting some of the grandstands from the Grand Prix, which was on a week or so ago.
We continued our walk and just behind the Casino, found some gorgeous views over the sea and something else Monte Carlo is famous for – its boat marina. Well, to say that there were some boats in there is a huge understatement. This harbour contained some of the most enormous yachts and pleasure cruisers I have ever seen – the only thing that would dwarf them would be commercial cruise liners. Some of them even had doors on the side, that could be opened and then launch the smaller boat that was sitting inside it! More Grand Prix grandstands as well as a heck of a lot of tyres, no doubt used as chicanes and wall bumpers. Reminded me of the Gold Coast Indy actually.
After deciding we probably couldn't even afford the petrol to get one of these monoliths out of the harbour, we headed up to the Prince's Palace for some more great views. One of the guards did his little bit out the front – paced the front of the Palace, rifle on shoulder and ensuring his turns were done with military precision.
We wandered back to our hotel via the Casino again, where at that time of the evening, a few more 'worthy' cars were out the front – 3 Ferraris, and a couple Bentleys! That said, the convertible mini-cooper revved its engines more when it left than the Ferrari in front of it! I think people that buy a Ferrari and don't 'gun it', especially somewhere like in front of the Casino in Monte Carlo should have it taken off them!!! Surely there's something in the Ferrari Owners Manual about this?... Thou shalt ignore all road rules, not utilise the indicator and rev the engine really loud at all times!
Was really looking forward to the enormous bed at the Novotel... Only to find that as seems to be the case here in Europe – double beds are nothing more than 2 single beds pushed together! They try to disguise it by having king size sheets but when you notice that there are actually two single doona's under said sheets, it becomes obvious... Well, that and the big hard strip down the middle of the bed!
I'm typing today's entry from the TGV train from Nice to Paris. As soon as we crossed the border, the trains started to run on time again! This train seems to be going even faster than the one to Switzerland but there is still chance to take in the view. The first part of our journey was spent parallel with the Cote d'azur, so we got to admire even more of the beautiful coastline, whilst passing through towns like Cannes (film festival fame) and Marseille. At the moment, we're tracking up through the wine-growing region near Avignon and Lyon. Today's train ride, although substantially further in distance, will actually take less time than yesterday's trek from the Cinque to Monaco!
Met a lovely lady on the train – she is an artist that has travelled the world doing portraits but also worked at the Louvre for over 20 years! A French lady, she helped us interpret the French train conductor advising that the people who serve food were on strike today, so no food for the 6-hour journey! Would have been nice if they'd mentioned that before we left the station! Oh well, turns out it was a small strike, as a couple hours into the journey they started serving food again.