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Glamour and Gasoline part III: Fast Cars in Rich Places

The Monaco Grand Prix

sunny 24 °C
View Monaco Grand Prix 2009 on GregW's travel map.

I made it an early night on Saturday so I could be up early to head to Monaco. I had checked the schedules of the trains from both San Remo and Ventimilla so I knew exactly what trains to catch, and scheduled the alarm to wake me up 1 hour before my San Remo train so I could get ready and go to the train station. The alarm ended up not being necessary, as the traffic at night and the birds at daybreak made sure I was awake with plenty of time to spare.

The train gained more and more passengers at each station towards Monaco, until it was as jammed as the Northern Line tube on a weekday afternoon. At Monaco, we all spilled out into the underground station before working our way out of the depths and into the light of what is arguably the most glamourous country in the entire world.

Finally, all the excitement that had been missing from the period before my trip came flooding to me, and I started to feel the anticipation. I was in Monaco for the Grand Prix.

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I have had an on and off relationship with car racing for many years, starting as a child. I would go through periods where I would watch for a few years, and then tune out before picking it up again later. Through all of that, though, the thought of going to the Monaco Grand Prix has always remained constant. For the Grand Prix of Monaco is about more than the car race. It is a celebration of outrageous levels of glamour, glitz and wealth.

Monaco itself is enough of a draw. This city state of a country is known for being a place where millionaires come to live, mostly because it has a very low personal tax rate. That does mean, though, that as you wander around you are likely to see tons of rich people and nice cars and beautiful women.

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The Grand Prix captures all that in one perfect day. If you’ve never seen the race on TV, it is visible stunning, with the cars racing past million dollar yachts moored in the harbour and along streets lined with luxury apartments. Prince Albert always attends and presents the trophy, adding a luxurious royal air to the proceedings. There are always shots of millionaires and beautiful women.

The stands I were in overlooked both the Marina, a corner and one half of the pits.

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On the TV they showed commercials when the racing action wasn't on. One was for the Monaco Yacht show, which ironically is carbon neutral. I doubt that includes the post-yacht show use of the yachts, though.

Walking through the pits were lots of beautiful women, and there were a bunch in the stands with me as well.

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The male fans were also out in full force. Not as pretty, but some were pretty fanatical.

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The race started, and I got a good look at the action, both on the track...

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...and in the pits.

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Heikki Kovalainen hit the wall just in front of us. Don't worry, he was okay. I was impressed with the guys who ran out and started picking up the pieces of the car while the cars were still cruising by at high speeds.

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It was very sunny and warm, so lots of folks were looking for ways to beat the heat.

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This lady made a hat of newspaper. Her boyfriend decided to embrace the heat, take off his shirt and get a tan.

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The race ended and Jensen Button won, the fifth win of the season out of six for him.

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Honda used to sponsor this team, but dropped out at the end of last year. I bet they are kicking themselves.

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Afterwards, I went out and checked out the booth. I bought myself and my father a hat emblazoned with Monaco Grand Prix on it. Then I headed to a pub called La Jazz, which turned out to be a British pub.

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I headed back to San Remo. Due to the sun, the lack of sleep over the past few nights and the few pints I had at La Jazz, I fell asleep on the train. I woke up in some place called Taggio-Alma, and panicked, I jumped off the train. Unfortunately, I left my hats on the train, so I lost my souvenir of the race!

Luckily, Taggio-Alma is only one stop past San Remo, and I was back to San Remo in decent time.

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I made it an early night, setting my alarm for 7:00 AM. I had to catch an 8:07 AM train to head back to London, and I didn't want to miss it.

Continued in Glamour and Gasoline part IV: The Wrong Train

Posted by GregW 27.05.2009 11:46 Archived in Monaco Tagged sports events formula_one luxury_travel

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