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Published: August 13th 2007
I’m not a motor sports fan. I really don’t understand what compels people to watch a bunch of cars that all look the same drive round a track 300 times. If you want to see the crashes, watch the highlights. But nevertheless, Baz loves it, so at my suggestion we booked the Monaco Grand Prix for the end of May bank holiday 2007.
I figured it would be quite a prestigious event and we could book ourselves into some decent seats and he could watch the race, while I explored the refreshment tents and perhaps a super yacht or two. It didn’t go quite as planned…
Dave and Jess were double dating this trip with us and it’s probably a good thing that they did or Barrie and I may have killed each other, or a passing stranger. Either way someone would have been hurt.
Don’t ever fly Alitalia. Our flight out of London was delayed by 2 hours, which would ordinarily have been fine. Except that it meant we missed our connecting flight in Milan to get to Nice. So 5 hours of queuing to rebook onto another flight and get our hotel vouchers later, we arrived
at our gorgeous, marble clad, 4 star hotel room, at 3am. Only to have to be out of the hotel by 7am for the airport pick up bus. Due to the Grand Prix being on and the airways being quite chocker, they couldn’t book us on a direct flight to Nice so we had to go via Lyon. We arrived in Lyon an hour late but that didn’t concern us too much since we had a 4-hour wait for our connecting flight. Dave and Jess were lucky enough to have been booked on an earlier flight so only had an hour to wait. Of course their flight was delayed by an hour anyway. And ours was delayed by four.
So we missed a day in Nice watching the qualifying. We got up pretty early the next day to head out to Monaco. They were super efficient and had extra trains running non stop from Nice to Monaco for the event. The sun was shinning and it was a beautiful day. We roamed around the city for a bit to check out all the stalls selling Grand Prix paraphenalia and Jess had the genius idea of getting seat cushions. We
Monaco Grand Prix
Jess, Dave & Baz in the stands
found our seats without a hitch but were a bit surprised that we seemed to be sitting on top of one another. There was barely any legroom or, indeed, bum room. And getting in and out was quite a bit of effort for you and everyone else around you - I was supposed to sit here for 4 hours straight? I don’t think so.
We wandered around in and around the seat stands and I was looking forward to finding the refreshment tents. I was dying to play pretend with a glass of champagne and canapes. Tents? What tents? There’s a row of 4 portaloos across from a stand selling the mankiest rolls I’ve ever seen and 1 type of beer, that’s warm. Ooh, or there’s the other stand over there selling chips and kebabs with meat that I’ve just seen him take from under the bench and warm in the microwave. Apparently, you either come in your own super yacht or you book with an events company. The events companies hire out the apartments that overlook the racetrack and put on pretty spectacular spreads. The super yachts were, indeed, super.
I managed to half follow the race
and more importantly, didn’t fall asleep. Barrie loved it, thankfully.
We spent the afternoon after the race walking around and then went back to Nice for dinner. We found a fantastic little square just in from the beach full of restaurants and ended up having a lovely meal out. But being a Sunday night, that’s all we could do.
On Monday Bindy joined us as she was working in Italy and had another friend working on a yacht that was moored in Monaco. We spent Monday morning exploring Nice, checked out the castle etc. Then we headed over to Monaco for a proper look around as you couldn’t get to most of the city the previous day as the roads were closed to allow all the seat stands to be set up. And of course we went to the casino, the most impressive part of that experience were the amazing cars out front.
We had to head out of there pretty early though, as we needed to get our flight back to London. When our train from Monaco to Nice was 20mins late, we took it as an omen. We arrived at the airport and checked in
on time and sat in the departure lounge and watched plane after plane land and take off. We also watched our departure time tick by. 2 hours after our departure time, our flight was cancelled due to bad weather conditions. This time, we were a little better prepared. Us girls ran to pick up our baggage and we sent the boys to the desk to rebook our flight and get our hotel vouchers. Unluckily for us an entire Greek island had decided to make their way home on the same flight as us, and who, like us, were now stranded. I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with Mediterranean tempers, but they pretty much just get louder and louder, and louder, and louder until they get what they want. I did feel a bit of compassion for them though, as both the Grand Prix and Canes Film Festival had just finished, almost every flight out of Nice was fully booked and they couldn’t get these people home to their kids for 4 days. Her husband was the loudest.
Thankfully Barrie and Dave were one of the first in line and we managed to get sorted relatively quickly.
CK, Baz & Jess on Nice beach - think warm thoughts, think warm thoughts...
We arrived at our hotel just in time to catch the last dinner run. Our waiter was pretty annoyed at being told he had a planeload of passengers about to arrive and that they’d have to work until everyone was fed, without any extra pay. But not nearly as angry as the one and only chef. All we heard when he was told were trays and utensils being thrown all over the kitchen and I’m pretty sure I now know the French word for F*ck. It sounds like F*ck. A lot like F*ck. In fact, it might just be F*ck.
We managed to guzzle quite a lot of red wine with our meal that night and after a few sympathetic words, the waiter softened up and we ended up having a bit of a boogie with the waiter while they were cleaning up.
Our flight the next day wasn’t until the afternoon so for the first time this trip, we relaxed in the sun on the beach and drank cocktails. It was a perfect afternoon.
Now our rebooked flight was booked with two separate and unaffiliated airlines, Lufthansa and BA, so when we checked in at Nice,
Merc outside Monaco Casino
we couldn’t check our bags all the way home. We were flying via Frankfurt and had to recheck in once we arrived there. We had a 1hr window between the time we arrived and the time our next fight left. This was going to be tight. We felt pretty confident about our first leg, as Lufthansa are usually pretty punctual. Of course today, they were 15 precious minutes late. When we arrived at Frankfurt airport we were to learn that it is the largest airport in Europe, so large that the staff ride bicycles around. We landed at Terminal 1. We were leaving from Terminal 2, a train ride away. We arrived at the check-in desk just as the last check in girl was about to leave and she barely contained a laugh as she shook her head and said, you are leaving from gate 72. The furthest gate away. Bags checked, thongs off - sprint! Thankfully the airport is spotless and the floors are shiny smooth so running barefoot wasn’t a problem. Running that far, that fast, that was a problem. We were the last passengers on the plane, but we made it! And arrived back at London Heathrow
Ferrari outside Monaco Casino
to find our bags were still in Frankfurt.
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