09/08 Monte Carlo

08 Sep 1985, Posted by Scott An Chora in Travelogue, No Comments.

09/08 Monte Carlo

I woke with that taste of too many cigarettes and one too many beers and wandered toward a morning coffee before it was back on the road again. We started down the coast searching for another room, kind of back tracking over the previous day’s plans but we ended up in Monte Carlo instead.  It had just begun raining as we headed up one of the steep hills looking for shelter and a cup of coffee.  We sat down alongside a window and while we sipped our coffee I noticed a motorcyclist get hit from behind.  That stood me straight up out of my chair but he appeared to be okay.  At that moment the sun began peeking through so we decided to walk around the bay and trek up to the castle.  First we thought we had gotten lucky because we were out front of the residence when the royal family arrived home.  Kind of like a circus event, but it turned out to be more of an inconvenience since they wouldn’t let us leave when it began to get boring, and it got boring.  When they finally let us go we headed back down to the bay, the best place to relax.  Jim wasn’t interested in playing in the casino and criticized me for risking money but I was actually more interested in experiencing its atmosphere.  You’re here, why wouldn’t you want to check it out?  We had already secured a hotel room back in Nice so we made plans to meet up there later that evening.

I was hanging around and not much was happening so I changed plans and started to head back toward Nice myself, but the sun and hot sand was inviting so I decided to get off the train at La Trayas, Villefrance / Sur-Mer.  This turned out to be a wise decision for someone who enjoys young women in bathing suits.  I sat along the wall playing with the sand between my toes and with my eyes smiling at all the young ladies.  I got into a conversation with a pair of young ladies that were kind enough to provide a few insights and persuaded me to look them up that night in Nice.  They explained that there was an exceptional band in a small club they frequented, so they wrote me out directions.  I was feeling much better and the idea of wandering about a casino reentered my head so I put my shoes back on and began to retrace my steps.  When I first reached the casino I decided to check out the grounds first and ended up down along the water’s edge staring out at the many boats.  Who were those people that can afford such luxuries?  Nobody related to me.

This was nothing like Vegas.  The atmosphere was more like a funeral home where celebration lacked class.  It was dead quiet and almost too clean.  I was just standing around when I noticed a tall Arab had entered the room all dressed up for show.  He had three gorgeous women grappling for an available arm, a blond, a brunette and a redhead.  That was a scene that could only have been scripted in Hollywood.  I was standing alongside the roulette table and I still don’t believe what I had witnessed.  In hindsight I was sure it was all staged for the ladies.  The Arab gentleman approached the roulette wheel and without even the slightest gesture the attendant slid over a stack of chips.  I can only imagine their value.  He slid the stack over onto a number.  After adding up the numbers in my head I’m wasn’t sure if he placed them on a single number or covered the corners of four adjacent numbers.  The ball spun around that wheel and when it came to stop his number came up.  He expressed no excitement or surprise.  Only the girl’s eyes got wilder.  One giggled but recovered quickly so as not to show any emotion.  Then he made a gesture with his left hand and then dealer only moved his original stack to number he pointed to.  I don’t recall the dealer adding chips to the table or slide his winning toward him.  Again, his number came up.  At that point the girls were all over him, giggling quietly, smiling and touching his arms.  That was the only sound breaking the silence of the room.  Again he made the same gesture to the dealer and his chips were moved to another number.  Like the past two his bet came up a winner.  He then kissed two of the three girls, picked up two of the original chips off the stack and flipped them to the attendant with a gesture of thanks, leaving the rest of the chips on the table.  At that moment a side door opened just right of the table and the four of them disappeared.  I stood there wondering if he had rolled over his bet or had just maintained the original stack.  Either way that had to have been staged for the benefit of the girls.  I suppose I levitate toward craps because of the emotions the crowds bring to the table but not there.  If you cheered it was probable that they would ask you to leave.  Not my cup of tea and I prefer Scotch anyway.

On the way back to our room I stopped at a dance club and the girls were there as promised.  One of them seemed very interested and I was attracted to her but her girlfriend was demonstrating jealousy and it just started to get a bit weird.  I explain that I had to meet up with a buddy and we both would return later that evening.  The idea of a dance club didn’t go over well.  Jim would rather skip rocks into the moonlight.  After a few drinks I decided I was tired anyway and needed my sleep so I crawled off to an early bed.

Being out on the streets early was kind of like having a secret, observing things happening while the rest were sleeping.  I searched out another hole in the wall for a cup of coffee and a few pieces of bread.  It was quiet and things outside moved at a slower pace.  I could absorb it all without losing my concentration.  As we headed back to La Trayas, we skipped along hilltop villages overlooking the Riviera and darted between orange and olive trees.  We arrived early and took advantage of the beautiful coast.  It was a beautiful day and the sun beckoned us to swim.  We were extremely lucky to have met an older gentleman who offered his diving mask and fins so we could explore the coves.  I swam and relaxed all day until it was time to head up to the hostel.  Jim again found something to disagree with.  Apparently he hadn’t gotten enough sun and wanted to remain behind.  I wandered up the hill and confronted a group hanging outside on a picnic table setup in front the hostel.  Some were waiting on available beds and others were waiting to buy meal tickets for dinner.  Meals were only prepared for the number of seats available in their dining room.  Thanks to Jim, he forced me into another no-win situation.  If I bought two tickets he wouldn’t show up in time.  If I bought just one ticket for myself he’d show up and complain.  So like an idiot I watched them eat.  Luckily a young German arrived late and was in the same boat as I so we both walked down to the local store and picked up some food and a lot of beer.  We claimed one of the coves and since we were sporting extra beers and the market had closed our conversation grew to include six others.  We traded stories all night.  I was given some addresses or phone numbers and told when I arrived in either Paris or Rome they would put me up for a night or two.  We gathered again around breakfast that next morning and said our goodbyes.  It was a good group but as it turned out all of us were either traveling in opposite directions or were at the end of their holiday.

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    Usually behind a cup of coffee waiting for the world around me to wake up I entered today’s thoughts about yesterday’s activities into my travel journal. I’m not a writer, so I’ll apologize in advance if I jump around or seem confused. These are just the thoughts of a young man who left his possessions behind and who believes that getting lost is how one finds oneself.

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