Sometimes the best things in life come by surprise.
In 2002, I took a week's vacation in France planning to spend three days in the south and three days in Paris to see the French Open, among other things.
I landed in Nice and took the train to Monaco one Saturday morning to check out the principality. I was unaware of what to expect in the land of the rich and famous.
When I landed in Monaco, I realized the impact F1 racing has. Walking through crowded streets, I was amazed to see fans peering through crevices in the concrete barriers to see the ultimate speed machines race around the narrow circuit. Monte Carlo was abuzz with excitement and race fans from all over the world. The Monaco Grand Prix is truly special event.
Initially, I was disappointed as Monte Carlo wasn't as accessible as I would've liked it to be. With the Monaco Grand Prix in town, I wouldn't get to see what the place is really like. I did notice the overabundance of Porsches, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis though!
I meandered along the windy streets making my way to the casino. Behind the casino is a terrace looking out onto the water where you could see the yachts docked at the Port Hercule.
I also managed to run into former France national team soccer player Robert Pires and his wife outside the casino. As a soccer fanatic, this was worth the trip itself.
But things were about to get a lot better.
With the race winding down, I headed back toward the casino when an older gentleman stopped me and asked me if I wanted to attend the Grand Prix. Of course, I said “yes” and he handed me a ticket with face value 450 euros (US$550) in the stands across from the casino.
I pretty much had one of the best seats in the house although my ears really paid the price for how close I was to the action. Those ferocious, high-revving engines were so loud as they came from the harbor to swing past the casino. In a way, it’s a good thing only about half an hour of racing was left!
At the end of the race, heading back to the train station, I got caught up with a throng of Britons celebrating David Coulthard’s victory. The atmosphere after the race was right up there with soccer games. What a great experience in Monaco!