Casino Royal

Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
Trip End Oct 23, 2009

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Flag of Monaco  ,
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We've reached our 8th independent nation in Europe today: Monaco (the second smallest nation in the world, after Vatican City). We experienced all that Monte Carlo is famed for, a lap or two around the famed Grand Prix de Monaco, Formula 1 circuit (video and commentary below) and a game of blackjack at the magnificent Casino de Monte Carlo.  

The drive along the French Riviera, from Cannes, Antibes and on to Monaco was splendid. The Mediterranean Sea is spectacular shades of blue that go as far as the eye can see. Large villas overlook the harbors where cruise craft, fishing boats and cruise ships all anchor. The old buildings and palaces above tell stories of the Grimaldi regime and the fragrant ornamental gardens are fit for kings.

The Casino de Monte Carlo was built in 1863, an impressive and commanding building from the outside, and even more dazzling on the inside: Guarded entry, lavish decor, entry fee and passports must be submitted and dress code appropriate to get into the casino... perhaps a bit intimidating to those accustom to the Las Vegas free buffets. The casino was indeed straight out of a James Bond movie. A very cool, exclusive atmosphere, marble floors, grand columns, glittering crystal chandeliers, whispers at the table, the roulette wheel was spinning and the chips were flowing.  

 The house was no match today for Mr. Moore, blackjack was his game and taking the house in the worlds most famous and lavish casino was his game. We aren't too proud to brag: we walked out of there, up... just enough Euros to cover a standard french dinner for two with a bottle of Cote du Provence wine and a cuban cigar or two. When they refer to "big bills" in Europe, they mean it: the larger the denomination, the larger the paper money is.

For those of you unfamiliar with the world of F1 racing: This Grand Prix circuit, driven every spring by the worlds best Formula 1 drivers is, 2.08 miles long, takes about 1:15.00 (1 min. 15 sec.) to complete and is one of the most unique tracks on the entire F1 circuit because the track swirls through the automobile streets of old Monte Carlo, through tunnels, hairpin turns, grade changes, dashing around fountains, a swimming pool, cafes, a bump or two in the road and curbs. The chic onlookers on the yachts get a great view of Piscine, the swimming pool straight. 

The next best thing for an F1 fan, here, would be to remove the scooters, buses and other cars (import a fancy Italian sportscar) and let him take a few laps in Michael Schumacher fashion... but a cruise in Dawn's new BMW will certainly suffice for now.

Please note in John's excitement, he misquoted the corner of Michael Schumacher's qualifying antics.  I had to correct him later... it was actually Turn 17 La Rascasse going into turn 18 Anthony Noghes...

We'll chalk this day up to "life experiences." Driving the Monte Carlo circuit and taking the house at the Grand Casino: not bad at all.
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