Friday, 15 July 2011

Monte Carlo

7 August 2006. We leave Monaco Ville in the coach and have a short ride down the hill to Monte Carlo. Wait a moment... those are rather strange road markings! We are on the Grand Prix circuit! In a coach!

More of that later. The coach leaves us in a coach park where we eventually find ourselves in gardens to the rear of the famous casino. We trotted round to the front to find yet more gardens.

We only had an hour or so. Not really time to go in and win a fortune from some thin Sicilian gangster, whose beautiful companion would glare at him before swaying gracefully over to my side. In any case, this is a daytime excursion and I'm in a polo shirt and chinos - not the elegant attire necessary to draw eyes for reasons other than amusement...

In 1873 a Yorkshire Mill engineer with a background in mechanics watched the wheels at Monte Carlo, analysing the results of every spin. He found that nine numbers kept coming up more than usual on one of the wheels. He won an astronomical amount for the day before the casino realised and moved the numbers on the wheel every night.

After several days of winning that netted him the equivalent of 15 million UK pounds, he went on a two-day losing streak, finally admitting the inevitable and getting out with a remaining profit of 160,000 pounds - say, 10 or 11 millions in today's money. Joseph Jaggers died in 1892, the year that the song The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo was written about him.

My car was waiting across the road... Well, I can wish! Aston Martins litter the roads around here. I didn't see a single Reliant Robin all the time we were there.

It was extremely hot. Miss Franny and I decided we would have an ice cream and having pulled some money from my pocket, I had to go digging again to pay for Fran's... You could buy an ice cream van for that sort of money where I come from...

We had a walk up the hill opposite the casino, through exquisite gardens with intricate fountains, no doubt financed by the ice cream seller. It really was lovely there. Even with the sun so hot that 50 pence worth of ice cream was melting away every second...

We got back on the coach and he drove around as much of the Formula One track as he could. Absolute rubbish - he made no attempt whatsoever to drive quickly...

We all got off for a few minutes at the tunnel to take photos and then to gawp over the edge of the road where the cars come out into bright sunlight with the sea and harbour just a long drop to the left!

Large versions of the photos: I've created this set at Flickr with all the photos from the holiday.

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