Thursday, June 2, 2016

Day 4....Monte Carlo

Another place we hadn't been to - Monaco...Monte Carlo.  Thoughts of Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, James Bond, casinos, yachts, jewels, royalty, clay courts, Grand Prix...what was that, Grand Prix?  
A sunrise?  The first we'd seen since leaving California.
As our boat tendered, and we wondered what we do that day, our ears filled with the sound of racing cars.  Directly across the sea from us was the tunnel for the Monaco Grand Prix, and we could hear the cars.  
The tunnel across from our ship.
Was there qualifying?  Could we see this? We promptly arrived at the local tour rep's desk at 9 am...already there were 4 or 5 people ahead of us, with questions like "when do the guards change at the Palace?", "can we see the Prince and Princess?" our turn arrives..."are there qualifying races today?  can we see them?"  Her eyes lit up, and the rep said "It is the Historique Races today, and yes, you can watch!".  

She pulled out a map, and said "go here to buy tickets" and off we scurried to the tender. As we sailed into the harbor, we were amazed by all the yachts (or are they mega $250,000,000 a crack, they should get a special name). Eight of them is a couple billion dollars... 
Palace on hill overlooking harbor.
The Lady Moura
We made our way to the ticket booth, bought tickets (20e, very reasonable) and a program, and off we went to the stands. 

The races started with the pre WWII cars, up to the 1970s.  To see Bentleys and Mercedes racing was fun...they were big, with gutty engine noise, not like the Bugattis.  It was a hoot. The sounds, sights, smells. 
We sat in Section K, the cars ran clockwise.

People watched the races from their boats.

 Our seats were across from the harbor, where we could see the cars coming out a straightway/curve, go straight for a while, and then turned to go to the pits/start area. 

This car was so boxy - it's called a U2, and raced from 1958-60.

The cars going away from us, into the far turn.

We could also see where the cars went up the elevated roadway...never realized there was so much elevation.  Why all the cranes?  To remove broken down/accident cars...the men in the orange jump suits came out, hooked up the car to the cable, and they would just hoist the car up and get if off the track.
This shows the elevated roadway, starts on left archway and goes up behind TV screen to the bell tower, where the track turned left and went down to the tunnel.

The TV screen displayed real time images of the race, all different sections of the track.  Here is shows the hairpin turn.
If we walked to the top of the grandstand, we could see where the cars came out of the pits and the start area.
Car coming out of pit area.

Start of race.
It started to sprinkle, so we left the races and walked back to the harbor, taking in the beautiful buildings and yachts.  An impression of Monaco...Disneyland for the very wealthy.

The Oceanographique Institute which is supposed to be spectacular.

Fanciest zodiac I've ever seen.
Pages from program...some of the cars we saw.

Tomorrow, we would be in Antibes, for more Cote d'Azur adventures.

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