So this is it. The grandest, swankiest casino in the world. Monte-Carlo, baby!
Same as with Cannes, I chose my hotel based on proximity. If you know me, you know there's not much that I love more than getting shitfaced drunk, gambling, and then stumbling back to my room.
The Casino Monte-Carlo is a stand alone building, but right next to it is the Hotel de Paris, so that's where I picked. Fancy. Grand old hotel tradition fancy, both inside and out, and especially in attitude, as, I was to learn, was the rest of Monaco.
(translation: oh, they just loved me.)
Here's the ornate lobby. Fancy, right? The whole time that I was planning this trip, I kept thinking to myself, "I can't believe I'm going to Monte-Carlo."
And when I got there, I was like "I can't believe I'm actually in Monte-Carlo!" And then, well, let me tell you, they couldn't believe I was there, either.
Never before in my life had I felt so...trepidatious, suddenly. I've gambled, and I've gambled a lot, and I've gambled with high rollers. But this place is different. So instead of rushing directly to the casino, I figured I'd get my bearings and chill at the pool. It's a nice one, but it's also a seawater pool. It's novel and fun at first, but after about ten laps, it started making me sick so I had to give up and just paddle around a bit. This was the inauspicious start to a trend that would continue throughout the rest of the trip.
But, once I'd had my fill in the pool, I went to the solarium, where my book assured me that she would act as she was named and bring me lady luck in the casino. So we enjoyed the view for a while before heading out.
Alright, so here's how it works in Monte-Carlo. There's a corporation called SBM that operates a bunch of the hotels and casinos. (Yes, there are other casinos besides the famous one.) And if you stay at one of those hotels, they give you a "Carte d'Or" which you can take around and use in all the places. So, my book got decked out in its most fancy attire (you may recall these from last year's Italy trip) and grabbed its gold card and its guts and it was off.
And off we went. I won't lie to you. It was fast, it was ugly. There will be no joyous pictures of my book hauling money out of there. Instead, through some strange alchemy, my Carte d'Or turned to coal as Lady Luck didn't just abandon me, I think she ran screaming away. Sickening, really.
If you want a little more detail about the ambience, here's the best I can tell you. Fancy. Fancy and reserved. I was intimidated, not just by the reverence of the legend of the place, but by the actual ambience.
But I'm not one to be kept down by a twist of bad luck. There's plenty more to enjoy in Monte-Carlo, being the bustling metropolis it is. (seriously, it is a BIG city, we think of Monaco as small, and it is, but the city of Monte-Carlo is formidable)
One of the cool things? The food! Within spitting distance of the casino is both Joel Robuchon's restaurant and Alain Ducasse's, 2 and 3 Michelin stars, respectively. So, being the smart-ass that I am, I had lunch at Robuchon's and dinner at Ducasse's.
At Robuchon's, I had all the French shit, man. Caviar, black truffles, and oh yeah, foie gras! It was awesome! Then, at Ducasse's, the menu was all in French, and I'm not so hot on French, so I didn't even know what the hell I was eating half the time, but, fortunately, it was delicious!
Unfortunately, it mixed even worse with me than the stupid seawater pool and the alchemy got worse and that foie gras turned into something you don't even want me to describe.
At this point, I was pretty sick of being sick and I just wanted to collect my shit back into one, cohesive, dumbass American pile and move along. But, you know, you can't go somewhere like Monte-Carlo and not take some souvenirs. I was weary, and luckily, right in my hotel room, they had an assortment of stuff that you could take. Unfortunately, I was also pretty broke by this time. So I perused the price list looking for cheap stuff and that's when I saw it.
In this place, this paragon of class and dignity, I found a rather unusual offering from the minibar. Condoms. And they were the cheapest thing on the list!
So I packed and giggled about this, and then, when I was done showering and getting dressed, I stumbled upon this sordid scene in the bedroom.
That's right, Lady Luck was getting lucky! Getting her freak on with the room service menu, irresponsibly (or, well, responsibly, actually) using up my cheap souvenirs!
Seriously, though, Monte-Carlo is a very special place. And every single person there will be certain to tell you that at every turn. (Also seriously. The city is special, the people are extremely special, and they just love talking about how
fucking special they all are. Gag.) I know I'm kind of slagging the place here,
but I do feel extremely lucky to have visited. It just was...well, it was Monte-Carlo. As a gambler, I had to check it out. But even though I strayed, my deep love affair with Vegas continues. And I don't think I'll ever stray again.
I did visit the other casinos while I was there, but, much like Cannes, they were small, sad, pathetic affairs. One of them was all red. I mean, red. And one was blue. It was...disturbing. So when I left Monte-Carlo I crossed over into Italy and visited San Remo, also on the Mediterranean, and also with a casino.