MM 4.5 — Day 2: The Monaco Myth

This morning, it would have been time for the first MacMania session of the cruise: David Pogue’s Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger presentation. But, somehow, I could not get out of bed in time. Not. At. All. I was suffering from a severe case of Vacation Sleepiness.

This happens a lot when I go on vacation: on the second or third day of the trip I get extremely tired, and salty sea air tends to emphasize that phenomenon even further. So, instead of following David’s lecture, I just put my alarm clock into snooze mode for about 90 minutes — in five-minute increments — and enjoyed the pleasantly cozy bed in my room, and knowing that I had already followed a class by David with a similar topic did not help my motivation to get up, either.

At least I managed to get onto the first shore excursion of this trip.

The view of Monaco from the ship looks like a postcard come to life: perched on the slopes of the coastal mountain range, the Principality of Monaco looks picturesque and frighteningly crowded at the same time.

MS Noordam in Monaco

The Monaco harbor is nowhere near the size to accommodate a ship the size of the Noordam, so we were anchored a few miles from shore and were taken to the city with tender boats that also serve as life boats in the case of an emergency. And the creature comforts aboard that boat were just as you would expect from a life boat. Let’s call them “rather functional.” At least the ride over to shore also served as an entertaining carnival ride, thanks to the mild waves.

Right after disembarking the tender, the pleasure of organized travel began: a few buses were ready to take us on several different tours through the city. What looked like “crowded with buildings” from the ship now became “crowded with hordes of tourists” from close by.

While most folks on the bus seemed to enjoy the tidbits of royal and high society gossip that the (female, of course) tour guide was more than willing to share with us, I couldn’t have cared less. I find that stuff boring as hell. For me, the true myth of Monaco is not its royal family, but the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix madness.

Monaco Curb

On TV, racing an 800 horsepower vehicle weighing no more than 650kg through the streets of Monaco already looks impressive. But once you see the track from close by you understand what F1 legend Jackie Stewart really meant when he said that “racing in Monaco is liking flying a helicopter in your living room.” The track is not only very narrow, but it’s also “graced” with countless bumps, crests, and blind corners. Awe. Some.

Walking along Rascasse, Mirabeau, and Casino was such a massive thrill, I even completely forgot about all that boring gossip. I mean, seriously: why waste time with stories about Princess Stephanie’s new boyfriend or Prince Albert’s marital status if you can stand at the exact spots where Alonso, Schumacher, Heidfeld, etc. fight out who gets to win the most prestigious race in the GP calendar!

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