Dr. Hoffer's Travel Site This site was last updated 08/04/10
IBERIA2001 #53 Monte Carlo
Now we are on the backend of the trip, whereby we have to get organized to leave, drop the BMW with the Harms Shipping Company and take a little side trip to Venezia to see what it's like in the non-summer months. I drove the remaining 137 miles east to arrive in the tiny municipality of Monaco (total 431 miles). After winding our way down the mountain to the city of Monte Carlo we had little trouble finding the Monte Carlo Grand Hotel (12 Ave des Spelugues). We checked in at 10:20 PM and was this place really grand. The cheapest hotel rate I could get was $550/night when I tried booking in July; our rate now was $244, so we could splurge for dinner.
Since we were so late, we asked the concierge for a recommendation for a restaurant that would be open this late. He recommended Ramboldi's which was Italian and only two blocks away. I was dying for Italian food, so after champagne, vino and aqua, I had French onion soup and penne arrabiate and annanas while Marcia had insalata caprese, sole meniere and flan. I finished with a cappuccino and it was fun listening to people speak Italian and French again. We then walked up the hill and around the corner to the plaza where the Grand Casino is and the Hotel de Paris. I had remembered Renee telling me how they wouldn't let her and her husband into the Casino because they weren't dressed properly so I decided to wait until tomorrow to attempt to go in. There was another casino nearby (Photo) so we went in there and I played blackjack until I had won a 20 FF chip (about 5 minutes) and then we left. We looked into the Main Casino and found there was an entrance fee and since I had no tie we just left and crossed the street to go into the famous Hotel de Paris for which we were immediately thrown out for what reason I don't know; something about they were "closed." It was a romantic evening and setting so we leisurely walked back to our room by 1:15. They give you free nightshirts with the Grand Hotel logo on them and tons of amenities. The room was fabulous and plush. We got to bed at 3 AM.
We woke at 8:30 AM and at 9:30 we both took a siesta until 1 PM. Because of the "check out devil" we raced to shower, pack and get out of the room and checked out at 2 PM. Since we had no future reservations we kept asking if we had received a fax from Manuel but none had arrived. We were getting a little worried. We left our bags at the hotel and I was dressed to run, so I ran along the coast as close to the water as I could get, past the municipal beach and all the way east to the Beach Hotel resort which was beautifully situated and had an interesting mermaid sculpture poolside (photo). On the way back I bought some pins and stopped at a beach place called La Rose des Vents for an excellent cappuccino and did a rare crossword. Continuing back I stopped in the Grimaldi (Prince Ranier family name) Center complex, bought a pin and photoed some coins to do with Monaco. Across the street I stopped in the Municipal Gallery to photo the sculptures in their garden. Walking further I saw art galleries and was intrigued by one with the head of Michelangelo’s "David" made from metal that had been sliced and could be separated (photo). As I entered, the young lady let me in as this little white dog was having a fit. As I put my hand down to calm him down, I asked her if he bites and she said yes. With that I retracted my arm rapidly and kept my distance. Her name was Veronique and she was very nice and showed me the interesting sculpture of a man which opened up to reveal a bronze female form inside (photo). There was another gallery with a cello shaped in a feminine form. I finally got back to the hotel at 5:30 to change and meet Marcia for a coffee in the lobby. When I had tried to video and photo the lobby bar area earlier, the manager had stopped me telling me it was not allowed. I argued that I was a paying guest and paying through the nose. He told me they are concerned that many people that come to Monte Carlo are very concerned about being photographed. When I joined Marcia now he came over and apologized and took a picture of us (making sure no one else was in the picture). It also bugged me that they went nuts when I entered their casino with the camcorder so I made it my goal to get a photo of the interior of the casino (photo) as well right in front of the guard standing by the entrance. After I changed in the men's room (which was very plush), I went to the car and got my good shirt, Prado tie and a jacket so I would be suitable to enter the Main Casino. I walked back up the hill to the main square and went inside with the camera in my hand and of course was directed to check it at the desk. I had to pay 50 FF just to enter but I guess I was dressed satisfactorily. I walked around inside and it was grand and very plush but they didn't have blackjack so I sat at a roulette table and played the number 10 three times and then left with my 20 FF chip for my collection. I didn't get this one for free. I then walked across the street to try the Hotel de Paris again and I walked in without a problem. Because of previous experiences, I knew I couldn't get a picture of the lobby just standing there, so I walked straight to the stairs up to the rooms as if I were a guest and then on the second level peaked through the opening and took some video. Immediately I hear a shout from the doorman to stop! So I walked back down (thinking he really has sharp vision) and when I got to the exit he whispered that people had already called their bodyguards and I should hurry out and watch my film. With that I raced out and took the cassette out of the camcorder and hid it as I ran back to the hotel. Wow this place has people hiding something and total paranoia. Back at the hotel, we loaded the car to head out of Monaco. We had received info from Manuel that we were booked at the Star Hotel President in Genoa.
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #54
Monte Carlo, Princuipat de Monaco
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
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