Saturday, June 13, 2009

European Vacation Part 2, Day One

OK, so getting to Monaco was not easy. A couple tips for all you travelers out there:

1) If you are flying Air France out of JFK (and maybe other airports), you might have to check in at Delta. I don't give a rat's ass if you guys are codeshare partners, United doesn't make you do something as silly and pointless as that.

2) If you run into a situation like (1) above, THAT'S when you need to get to the airport 2 hours early for an international flight. I literally went up to Delta representatives BEGGING them to help me not miss my flight. Not so much, it would seem. Surly and incompetent, to a person--they're gonna get a "Charlie letter."

So I had to buy a last-minute ticket to Monaco and back through London on British Airways. Yeah, that was all kinds of cheap. The flight was pretty empty, and so I hoped I could stretch out on a row of seats. There were 3 in a row, but the whole front row was open, so I went up there and a couple grabbed the 3 seats I had my eye on. Turns out you can't lift the arms between the seats in the front row. Then I got my drink, and someone knocked into my elbow, so I spilled it on myself. Then some random old guy took a seat at the other end of the front row and proceeded--on an overnight flight, mind you--to read the Talmud the whole flight, with the reading light shining on me. I got to Monaco in not the best mood ever.

BUT...once I had, everything was duck soup from then on. My room at the lovely Hotel de Paris was ready right away, and it was comfortable and cool. Famished, I took lunch at the garden hotel in the restaurant. The Mediterranean was in the distance, and the air was redolent of jasmine. The staff was attentive, pleasant, and sunny, and it was the perfect antidote to the hell that had preceded it, as was the massage that followed. At one point, I ate a delicious meringue dessert that reminded me of something Mom used to make, and my eyes stung with the beautiful memory and the dazzling Mediterranean sunshine.

After a much-needed nap, I gussied up and went down to the Bar Americain for a pre-Bal de l'Ete cocktail party hosted by Adam Schran and Brent Smith, two very affable chaps who know a good many folks at the Bal. (Oddly, "Bal" is pronounced not with a long "a," as one would expect, but instead with a short "a," like when Bertie Wooster refers to one of his imbroglios in a Wodehouse novel as "bally.") There was a charming international crowd of Austrians, Dutch, Germans, French, Romanians, and Americans, all of whom speak excellent English and most of whom keep a couple of residences. I have to give a shout out here to Mme. Stephens and Mlle. Sikora, because I got an unending flow of compliments on my French--great job, ladies! Thanks for teaching me so well.

After hurling 24 Euros at a Pimm's Cup and similar sums at flutes of champagne, I and the other folks still standing headed out to a place called, I kid you not, Sass. At some point during my sojourn there, I texted the following to Chris Patz: "I think I may have become Eurotrash." He responded: "Spiking your hair, overdoing cologne, wearing too many pastel colors? I think not." Brilliant. And by that definition, to be fair, the Sass crowd was not Eurotrash either. I ended the night "early" at 3:30 AM. I think it's going to be a fun weekend!

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