Prince’s Palace of Monaco

Prince’s Palace of Monaco

It was late in the afternoon when we came to the hilltop where the Prince’s Palace of Monaco is perched. We only had less than two hours to roam the area because the shops and other establishments were closing for the day. Pity, because I liked this area more than the casino area where we spent most of the time. It’s calmer in this area, and you can see down to the high rise luxury houses and see gardens on rooftops. That’s a dream apartment for me: a condo with a rooftop garden. We didn’t go in the palace, so we could only judge it from its facade. It didn’t look so royal, compared to other huge palaces. It even looked quite modern. But perhaps it was because much of it was renovated during Prince Rainier III:s (Grace Kelly’s hubby) time. But it is built from an old palace. It is the only palace of the ruling Grimaldi family since the 13th century. While other European rulers built several palaces, the Grimaldi family didn’t bother to build extra, but instead built extra wings, towers and the like in the same palace. During the time of the French Revolution, France annexed Monaco and took over the palace. It was during this time that many art collections and furniture in the palace were plundered. There was also a princess from Monaco that was guillotined at that time.  But oh Monaco and the Grimaldi family had a reputation for being louche, decadent. That’s because the wealth of the royal family and this tiny nation came from the casino. Monte Carlo was (and is still)...
Senna, Monaco and Formula One

Senna, Monaco and Formula One

Monte Carlo, host for the Monaco Grand Prix, is an annual Formula One motor race held one week in May since 1929. I am not really interested in motor sport, but of course, I know that Monaco Grand Prix is a prestigious international race. The race course is laid on the streets of Monte Carlo. It is one of the more challenging race tracks in Formula One. Monte Carlo and Formula One remind me of the Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna, who won Monaco Grand Prix more than any other driver. I watched a documentary about him, “Senna”, which gave me a glimpse and understanding of the sport, its regulations and difficulties, and the goals and ambitions of the racers. If I were Senna, I would’ve settled being a three time World Champion. But perhaps he did not find satisfaction in giving up racing. Perhaps he had no fear of death because he had no children to worry about? Had he retired, he could still be alive and enjoying the fruits of this three-time victory…Or perhaps there was no joy in doing just that? I feel sad for the loss of Senna. But then again, through his death, a committee to control safety for Formula One drivers was established. There was no fatality in the track since his death. And in his name his sister founded a grant that helped finance the education of around 12 million underprivileged children in Brazil. In a positive light, he did not die in vain. Senna is one the greatest drivers in the history of automobile sport. He died in 1994, 20 years ago, only...
Gracing Monaco

Gracing Monaco

Monaco is the world’s smallest country, and the most densely populated. Doesn’t sound so glamorous. But it is a party place for the very rich and famous. It is, after all, a tax haven. We were not so impressed with the place, though. Tall buildings by the shore, Ferraris and Lamborghinis driving by, ladies armed with luxury bags, that’s my memory of Grace’s Monaco. But of course we were glad to have seen place. I’ve longed to see it since the film Madagascar 3.  What I like most in Monte Carlo is the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, the official residence of the successor Prince Albert II, son of Prince Rainer and the legendary Grace Kelly. The royal family here is the Grimaldi family who has been around since the 13th century and built the famous Monte Carlo Casino, which became source of the family’s great wealth, I’ve heard. The view from the palace area is nice, and there is a nice shady playground overlooking the city. Funny stories: 1. It was Good Friday 2014 when we came to Monte Carlo. I saw a beautiful building and said: – There’s a church! Let’s go and light a candle to remember Good Friday.” The church turned out to be the famous Monte Carlo Casino. 2. People were flocking like crazy in front of the casino, taking shots. I was bewildered. What were people going gaga about? Celebrities? It turned out, there were red ferraris and lamborghinis parked prettily in a row. We were in Monte Carlo in April, a month before Formula One, and the city was bustling with preparations for the international...