DON'T LOSE YOUR SHIRT AT THE CASINO
Breakin' the Bank in Monte Carlo
Ever since I was a romantic lovesick lad I’ve had a crush on Princess Caroline of Monaco. Yes, impossible you say. Too much older, too much richer, too far away. But a couple of marriages and a few family tragedies later, hope remains eternal. And impossible love never dies. The train from Italy to France’s Cote d’Azur passes in short time (about an hour) from the industrial port of Genoa with cargo cranes and grimy ships, along the coast of the Italian Riviera, passing below the clinging cliffside villas of San Remo and sinks underground, pulling to a stop at Monaco. Images dance in the mind of James Bond staring across the green felt of the Baccarat table into the eyes of Blofeld as he coolly turns his Carte and passes the Banco.
The little Principality of Monaco is a tiny cluster of mansions and modern high-rise condos that cling to the mountains like glimmering agates perched to roll down into the yachts, gleaming white, packed gunwale to bowsprit crowding the harbor. It has survived as an entity over the centuries precisely because it was hard to get to, surrounded by its own personal mountain range, separating it from the rest of Europe at large. Now, it’s just a train stop away. Any tourist visit warrants a stop inside the most famous Casino in the world. In the daytime, a stop by a table in tourist drag to lay a 100 Euro bet on the spinning black of the roulette wheel is an irresistable temptation. Red! Damn…
During the afternoon you can get into the grand Casino Monte Carlo in your tourist jeans, but in the evening as the sun sinks in golden hues on the town where gazillionaires pay no income tax, when the Maybachs and Zondas arrive and deposit the glittery golden crowd, the Casino dress code of evening jacket, tie and all the accoutrements is enforced after about 5 pm. You can probably get away with just a dinner jacket, but the atmosphere is quite rich.
Should you have neglected to pack your cummerbund and Rolex, go ahead and lose your money at the modern tourist casino across the street behind the Cafe de La Paris where they have (repent - the end is nie!) slot machines "le Jeux Americains" and Black Jack tables and after you've blown a wad, stroll the streets where the Formula 1 Grand Prix race cars scream with 19,000 RPM’s every May (see Monaco Grand Prix Race).
If you don’t have the forty diamonds handy to experience the glitter and glamour of Europe’s ode to class excess from a corner room window at the Hotel de Paris the during Monaco Grand Prix Week - after your red carpet walk with George Clooney at the Cannes Festival - take a rental car and wind around the twisty narrow streets yourself. For what else to do the Monte-Carlo (see Monaco Grimadi Palace Secrets). © Bargain Travel Europe
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