Monaco Grand Prix - it's the one really.
I know I usually write about entertainment here and well, if Monaco is not pure entertainment, I don't know what is!
It was Monaco that started my love of Formula One. Growing up in a car racing family, my parents loved Bathurst and went to numerous rallies there prior to getting married and having us kids. We grew up with Conrad Straight, Brockie and the like...it was second nature to us.
I also loved old movies and Grace Kelly was a favourite. She married the Prince and moved to Monaco and that was in France...well, sort of.
As a kid that was some story!
So I loved to watch bits from the Monaco race to see if I could see Princess Caroline who I thought was lovely, and Princess Stephanie who was a bit different and very cool.
From that and from observing other races my parents watched, I started to love Formula 1 racing the best, in particular Jacques Villeneuve, he was hot (he still is), but most importantly he was an awesome racer, he was more outspoken than most of the other racers, he pulled sharp moves, got himself into trouble, but was fascinating to watch, on and off track.
And so a passion was born.
Over the years I have made my way down to Melbourne numerous times to enjoy the race weekend there, always a buzz.
It's hard to explain, I suppose you need to be there, but the fast cars, the noise, the smell, the racers, the excitement and anticipation, it's awesome. Now I am not very sporting minded, this is my exception and the thing that surprises people most about me. That's ok, you can raise an eyebrow!
So, when I arrived in Monaco less than 8 months ago on the road trip part of my European Vacation with family, I - we - were beyond excited.
After checking into the amazing hotel we were staying in, we headed down the hill towards where we thought the casino was, years of watching the race had us 'on track' . But years of watching didn't really prepare you for the beauty of Monte Carlo, the magnificent mountains so very close by...now I knew this, but seeing it was altogether different. You could turn in one direction and see mountains and mist, and then the other direction and see opulent yachts on the water.
We wandered thru the casino area and found ourselves right on that famous hairpin bend, we couldn't take enough photos, it was incredibly exciting, the most famous bend in f1 and here we were looking right at it!!! Then we walked around the hairpin straight to the tunnel!!
Oh my, we walked through the tunnel, where so many accidents have happened - if you love F1 and Monaco you will understand our excitement.
We then we found a great cafe on the harbour for lunch, looking directly at yachts unlike you have ever seen and up at the hills of the royal palace.
The lunch of crepes, our first in France was delightful. We walked all round the harbour, taking in the yachts, cars, hotels and extravagance, and looking up to the mountains, wishing we were staying for more than one night. We then wandered to the 'swimming pool' and found the start/finish section of the track, lots of little statues etc paying homage to the race and racers, and all sorts of things Formula 1.
We continued to explore and made our way up the hill back to our hotel, where we changed for dinner and some night views of this fabulous city.
The following day we were leaving but not before our intrepid driver, my fabulous sister Amanda, drove us around the entire race track a few times. She was in even, we all were cheering and excited. A real thrill, and how nice to view the race last night with all of that history now. As the cars went round I followed even closer than I ever had, I knew these streets, I had been a passenger on these streets, I had walked these streets!!
It's a simple track, possibly one that would be ditched if it were elsewhere, but how can they?
It is steeped in history, royal and racing...the two go hand in hand, how I miss Monaco and those famous streets...one day I shall return!!!!