But first, breakfast. Breakfast was a family affair on the cruise ship. Not with family but “family style” which I’m not altogether fond of. I’m shy with new people at the best of times and downright snarky at 7:30 in the morning with strangers and no coffee.
After a hastily gulped croissant and coffee, I ran back to take a shower. Hmmm…Monte Carlo, I thought. I really didn’t want to trek through this place looking like a tacky tourist. No shorts or running shoes today, I thought. I dressed in what I thought was a rather chic outfit: Flowing, gauzey white shirt, crisp white trousers and cute leather sandals. Big sunglasses completed the ensemble. I even put on eye makeup – eyeliner & mascara. I could make an effort for Monte Carlo.
Mother Nature had other plans.
As we disembarked the heavens opened up. My gauzy white shirt was soon plastered to my body. My husband gently suggested I wear something over it. He handed me a pink and black plaid sweatshirt that belonged to my daughter. There was nothing chic about that. I put my sunglasses away and pulled up the hood but it was too little too late. In less than 5 minutes, we were all soaked.
We walked through the town which was immaculate, beautiful, groomed – everything you’d expect. Maseratis, Ferraris, and the odd Rolls Royce sent towering waves of dirty water over us as they drove by. We saw the Casino just above us and headed for it. “I just want to see it,” my daughter said. Parked in the U-shaped drive in front of the Casino de Monte Carlo were at least a dozen cars that would make James Bond’s knees go weak: Aston Martins, Ferraris of all shapes and sizes, a Lamborghini or two, multiple large BMW sedans and more Mercedes than I’ve ever seen outside of a dealership. I dripped, my husband and kids drooled.
We happened upon a shopping centre where we could take refuge. Other tourists stood shivering in the doorway. The smell of fresh bread and hot coffee drew us in; we headed for a cafe. We ordered in our very bad French (the puckered look on the cafe server’s face assured us our French was very, very bad indeed). We gratefully sat down at an empty table. Soon a disagreeable woman came over to us, flapping her arms and hissing like a barnyard goose. I shook my head. “You cannot eat here,” she said. “You must go. You must go now.” I think she repeated the word “now” a couple of times.
People stared. I was embarrassed and just pissed off. I could feel tears welling up so I dashed off to find a bathroom. Note: don’t “dash off” in Monaco shopping malls looking like a half-drowned stowaway. It attracts the attention of security who think you are stealing something. Giving the security guards the goat eye, I found a washroom. Passing a mirror, I gasped. My carefully applied makeup had not withstood the Monte Carlo downpour very well. I looked like a half-drowned raccoon. Nope, wait. Because I’d been crying and my eyes were red, I think it’s safe to say I either looked like a stoned half-drowned raccoon or a raccoon with a severe case of pink eye. The ladies’ room attendant held out her hand for Euros.
I couldn’t even afford to pee in Monte Carlo.
I stormed out of the washroom, stormed past my family uttering some very mean things about the mall, the bathroom attendant, and Monte Carlo and said I wanted to go back to the ship. I may have said the word “now” several times. I may have stomped my foot.
Back onboard, I collapsed in a heap in our stateroom feeling frumpy, soggy, and decidedly unworthy. I lay there wishing I was thin, tanned, rich, and most of all, dry. I fell asleep. When I awoke Monte Carlo was gone. Thank God.