Monaco is one the the luckiest mishaps that could have ever happened to me. I was in Rome for a few days enjoying the sights, and then it came time to catch my next train to Geneva to do a little watch shopping. However, little did I know that the Italian train union workers have a cute tradition where they decide to go on short 24-hour strikes whenever they feel like it. That’s all good and dandy, but it threw off my time schedule for the other European cities I was planning to see. So I broke out Google Maps and my Eurail map and looked at the places to go between Rome and Barcelona.I saw Nice wasn’t a long train ride away and thought it would be cool to party on the French Riviera. So I went to Hostel World to book a room in Nice for a couple of days, only to find out that rooms were scarce and prices had gone up a little. After a little research I discovered that coincidently the Monaco Grand Prix was taking place at the same time. If you didn’t know, Nice is about a 20-minute train ride to Monaco but a hell of a lot cheaper. I quickly booked a room for a couple days and jumped on the next train to Nice.
After arriving in Nice, I checked into my hostel and was told at the front desk that for an extra €10, I would be invited to a champagne party that was being thrown to celebrate of the final day of the Grand Prix, which was the next day. After settling into room, I went to the social lounge where there were about 70–75 people. It only took from 7 p.m. to about 11 p.m. for 75 people to drink 175 bottles of champagne, and then we all headed to the beach. The next day, some of my new friends and I caught the train to Monaco. When we exited the train station, we thought we had gotten off at the Ferrari factory.
I had never seen so many super cars in one place in my entire life. There were Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Mclarens, Porsches, and Aston Martins as far as the eye could see in every direction. My friends and I decided to go to the beach to admire some of the gorgeous yachts that were docked just offshore. If you swim about 50 meters towards the break water, you will see a net that lines the bay. Located around this net barrier are small floating barges that you can swim out to and lay on to tan.
It’s a pretty incredible feeling to stand on the beach in Monte Carlo, Monaco, and listen to the horse power that is reverberating off of the crescent-shaped mountains. After we caught some sun and cleaned up, we walked towards the race circuit to have lunch. As you walk down towards the circuit, you are quickly approached by people with pictures of the hotels along the circuit that they represent. What happens is a negotiation process over a 3–4-course meal, wine, and your ticket to view from the bleachers located in front of their hotel. After a little haggling and shopping the competition, there is usually a good deal for both parties. I’m not going to say how much I negotiated because it’s been 5 years and the currency strength has changed, but I will say that I got a 4-course meal, a bottle of cabernet, and tickets next to the checkered flag.
Seeing the races in Monaco was something I only came to appreciate after fate had thrown me a curveball. But that’s another great thing about traveling alone—when the plan goes to shit, you alone have the power to make the next move.
Monaco is a very beautiful country/city that hosts one of the greatest sporting events in all of Europe and the world, and I am truly fortunate to have this event checked off in my life while plenty of other people still have it on their bucket lists. I did not get a chance to play baccarat at the Hotel de Paris casino, but it definitely gives me a reason to go back.