Tuesday, June 15, 2010


After our wonderful winter in USA, where we spent time both in California and Miami with a 3 week trip to Bogota, Bill flew to California to see Ian while I went to The Bahamas with my family. From Los Angeles, Bill flew to Barcelona and then took a train to Toulouse. After The Bahamas, I took a short trip to New York to visit my friend Stella, and flew from there to Madrid for a short 3 day stay with our friend Elena. Bill had been cleaning up the boat in Toulouse, the weather there was not great at the time, so he decided to meet me in Madrid, had a great time walking around and enjoying the sights and on May 7 we flew to Toulouse.

Our friends Justo and Stella from Miami would be arriving the next day, so after unpacking suitcases, we were ready to receive them. We had planned to cruise with them from Toulouse to Castelnaudary before leaving for Monaco, but they wanted to relax in Toulouse and see the city, so that is what we did. On Sunday for Mother's Day, we drove with them to Labastide D'Anjou where we had made a reservation at the Hostellerie Etienne for the best cassoulet in the area. We had a wonderful meal and afterwards took a drive around so they could see Avignonet with its beautiful tower and Catelnaudary and its grand basin. The next 2 days we spent shopping and enjoying Toulouse before our trip to Monaco. We bought some great food at Victor Hugo's market to take with us.

Justo and Stella had rented a car when they arrived, so on Wednesday, we got up early, packed the car and drove to Chateau La Grave , near Carcassonne, to buy the wine for the week. It is our favorite Minervois wine, and the same one we had taken to Monaco last year. We had a very nice driveto The South, and despite the fact that the Cannes Festival was starting, as was the F1 Grand Prix, the traffic was not bad. Our friends Ricardo and Celina from Miami were arriving that night in Nice, so after settling in our apartment in Monaco--the same apt. we had last year-- we drove to Nice airport to pick up our friends.

As it so often happens, their luggage did not arrive. One of their flights had been cancelled because of the volcano eruption, the luggage had been put on a flight with a different airline, so therefore the problem. They were exhausted. After filling out papers at luggage claim, we finally left the airport. Their luggage would be delivered to the apartment the next day. It was indeed delivered 2 DAYS LATER! Our poor friends were jet-lagged and upset, but given the circumstances, they were very good sports. They managed to enjoy all our outings, bouillabaise in Nice, trip to the little village of Eze, still wearnig the same clothes they had flown with.

Unfortunately Bill had gotten a cold just before we left, so Thursday he slept all day and Friday most of the day. Once he felt better he did manage, as he always does, to get some wonderful photos by sneaking into places only credentialed photographers are allowed to be.

Saturday and Sunday we spent walking around Monaco and enjoying the spectacle that te Grand Prix brings: the cars, the people, the beauty of Montecarlo and the incredible sound of the F! cars as they scream by. We had drinks at the Hotel Metropol which has been beautifully remodeled, watched the F 3 race from the Cafe de Paris and of course walked along the port to see all the yachts belonging to the race teams. What a show! We even ran into our friend Beppe, a friend of my nephew's, who so kindly had made reservations for us for Friday night dinner at La Piazza. He and a few of his friends had rented a yacht for the weekend, and they were obviously having a grand time.

Just before noon, we were to meet Spiro,a friend of Justo's who would be taking all of us to the bank to watch the race. EFG is located on the Avenue Ostende, where the cars come up the hill before they turn onto the Casino. It is a gorgeous building with 4 terraces, and there were quite a few of us. The tables with parasols were set on the terraces and the buffet was fantastic. Wine was plentiful, and the view of the track, the port and the palace in the background made for a most wonderful experience.

We had a great time eating, talking and watching the race. After 5:00 PM, the race was over, so we walked back to the apartment, said good by to our 4 friends who were continuing on to Provence and then Paris, and we decided to stay in and unwind after such an eventful weekend. The next morning Jean Yves, the doorman at the Victor Hugo Palace, where we were staying, drove us to the train station where we took the train back to Toulouse. We stopped in Nice, changed trains and continued on our way. There were many stops and we even had to wait for about 45 minutes while they did some repair to the tracks. We arrived in Toulouse after 8:30 PM, so we took a taxi to the port. The next day our friends Jim and Val from New Zealand would be arriving around 10: 30 AM .

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