|Subject: Re: Need Nice Hotel in NICE|
Hi Lesley and everyone
Monte Carlo is only 20 minutes by train from Nice. In my opinion this is one of the weirdest places in western Europe, but worth visiting.
It is the only place I have ever been where people give a second look to the ordinary cars, because they are so unusual. Ziners who know anything about motor racing will appreciate my luck at getting a hotel room that looked out over THE hairpin bend of the Monaco Grand Prix (another journalist freebie!), although sadly quite some weeks before the race actually took place!
Apart from ogling the opulence of the place, it is worth walking up to the palace on the hill (you can't miss it) for spectacular views of both sides of Monaco (Monte Carlo is one of 5 districts of the principality of Monaco). Shopping may be restricted to the window variety, depending on your budget. But your Euros are valid (Monaco is an independent state, but as it is totally surrounded by France, and only minutes from the Italian border, it is a fully integrated part of Europe - this site (http://www.eurocoins.co.uk/monaco.html) shows you the Monaco coins. Like the euros from the Vatican and San Marino, these are, I believe, quite popular with collectors).
If you want to pretend to be living in the lap of luxury, try having a coffee / glass of wine in one of the hotel bars down by the water. Cheap? No. But the views are pretty impressive, and no-one is going to rush you to finish. Lounging by the poolside you can almost feel like you could afford one of the superyachts moored in the marina.
So why is it weird? Well, as if the dripping wealth was not enough, Monaco has the highest ratio of police to population in Europe (and I think actually the world). Crime is virtually nil. At first you are grateful not to be pestered by the hawkers selling the fake Ray Bans and Rolexes - as you probably will be in Nice. But after a while you start to miss a bit of activity. Apart from the roar of a 5 litre Ferrari Testarossa to disturb the Mediterranean calm, everything is a bit too laid back for what is still a city, albeit a small one.
Another aspect of Monaco that makes it unlike any other city is a lack of anonymity. You may not notice this, after all there are crowds everywhere - and plenty of tourists gawping at the residents. But Monaco - and Monte Carlo in particular - has more CCTV cameras per square foot than..., well, I don't know. But it has a lot. Trees, buildings, boats, they are covered with them and your every move is watched.
Finally, gambling. After all this is why many people come to Monte Carlo. I will briefly relate my own tale here and read into it what you will:
We had been taken out of the city to a rustic-style restaurant up in the mountains, and bussing back down I was chatting to the other two journalists on the trip, and a Canadian guy who worked for a hedge fund in London and clearly earned probably 20-50 times what we did.
So we rolled back into Monte Carlo and some people went to Jimmy's - the legendary Monte Carlo nightclub where, allegedly, a glass of water costs $15. We headed to our own hotel's casino. The Canadian guy sat down at the first blackjack table and got $500 worth of chips. The minimum bet was more than I planned to lose. So those of us from, shall we say, the creative industries, moved on to the slot machines. We exchanged our FF50 (pre-Euro days) and got a small bucket of chips. I felt like one of the women you see on documentaries about Vegas, and we headed to the machines. I think I won once, and got about 4 chips back. One of the girls I was with did better and got about 15 back, but we decided just to work through the lot unless one of us really won a decent sum.
So, five minutes later we headed back through the casino with empty buckets. The Canadian guy waved us over. He was already $3,000 up for the evening. He had said he was good. I guess if you spend your days managing a hedge fund, blackjack is child's play. We strolled along the front to one of the other hotels, ordered a glass of wine each and chilled out by the pool until about 3am, with the Mediterranean lapping about 20 metres from us until.
So, what was a quick suggestion to go to Monaco, has turned into something of a travelogue. But anyway, you should go.
Jonathan Turton http://www.travelinsights.org/