Join us on our new journey to Monaco and Europe! We are so excited, and want to share with you all of our exciting adventures...and maybe some, not so exciting! Thanks for joining us...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

One Afternoon...this was off my terrace!

From the 24th to the 27th of September, Monaco hosts the Monaco Yacht Show, which is a world class show. Today, during the mid afternoon, I heard some very loud jet noises and saw an AIR show of about 10 small jets, all red, from the Royal Air Force RED ARROWS, from Great Britain, flying in formation, leaving colorful vapor trails, and wowing the crowds at the yacht show and all around Monaco! I had a birds eye view of this event...Enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Camden is now on the RUN!!!

OK, another "Mimi" moment!!! Camden is now walking...and by the looks of this video, he's going to be a star soccer, or as they say here in Europe, Futbol player!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

FUNCHAL 2008, Falmouth, England

Kernow Shipbroking, whom Art works with here in Monaco, celebrated a weekend in Falmouth, England, entertaining a few of their clients, along with family and friends. David William's, founder of Kernow, considers Falmouth his home...and is in the process of renovating a beautiful Georgian style home that is about 100 years old.

The tall ship races are a part of a celebration of the the 50th anniversary of the first settlement on the Portuguese island of Madeira, and Falmouth is the starting point of this celebration. There are 25 ships, in four different classes, sailing in this race.

Kernow is the Celtic word for Cornwall, which is the county that is the Southwest tip of England. In this county are the towns of Essex, Plymouth, Penzance, Devon and Falmouth, among others. Falmouth is well known for it's exceptionally deep harbour. Hence, it is a well known harbour along the Southwest coast. The Fal River was also where the boys heading to the invasion of Normandy started out...before they set sail for the French coast.

The land here has rolling hills, many meadows as well as forests, working farms for dairy cows and sheep. One of the favorites of the area is the wonderful cream that is made...sinfully delicious! Ice cream, clotted cream, and more...yum...and we did indulge a bit!!!

This being my second trip to England, the last was 14 years ago to London and the Eastern coast. This land was so green, a true Irish green, to me...with lots of meadows and hills. The harbour was filled with lots of fishing boats for work, many pleasure motor boats along with a large assortment of sailing boats. And the town crept right on down to the waters edge...with old stone streets and seawalls, pubs everywhere, and a great shopping area. Of course, with the festivities, there were tents along the waters edge with food, crafts, drinking and lots of music...both modern and traditional Cornish style.

On Saturday, we were all boarded onto a wonderful vessel, the Wando Lady, a wooden yacht built in the 60's, of American make, and just so simple yet comfortable. There were 16 of us on board. With a crew of three. There was lots of food and lots of spirits...the group all enjoyed themselves and each other.
Left to Right - Bogie, Kate, Jeremy, Lynn, Carol, Art, Kathy, David, Kylie, Andrew, Penelope, Arne, Cecelia, Andrew, James, Melanie...and missing, our photographer, John!

We set out to have lunch near the town of Helford. Afterwards, we went back to the mouth of the harbour and watched as the tall ships proceeded to parade out into the bay, under motor, because of the large crowds of boats all around them, but with most of their sails unfurled. What a site it was....AMAZING! There were spectators in rowboats, canoes, kayaks, speedboats, fishing boats, large yachts and sail boats of every size and shape imaginable.

The Mexican boat was the most festive, with music blaring from stem to stern, and much of the crew dancing was a site to see. There were crew members up on the masts as high as they could go, preparing the sails for the start of the race. Magnificent colors, polished fittings and sails just ready to be pulled in to catch the wind and sail onto Portugal!

My memory of the hundreds of boats following and surrounding the tall ships will be forever in my was a once in a lifetime opportunity...and we are both so glad we were able to see it. Art voiced how his cousin, Lloyd, would have loved this day, along with Art's Father.

Enjoy these photos and was a day to remember, for sure!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Monaco Ironman...Sept. 7, 2008

Today was the Ironman competition here in Monaco. It consisted of 1.9 km Swim, 90 km bike and 21.1 km run results in 70.3 miles in American measures. The internet site states the following:30 qualifying slots for the Ironman World Championship on 10 October 2009 Hawaii
50 qualifying slots for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on 9 November 2008 Florida
Athletes representing 40 nations

Several of these athletes competed for their countries in the Bejing Olympics....very cool! The morning was overcast, 78 degrees F, and a great breeze. The water was calm, where the swim began.
Video of the START of the RACE...COOL!!!
We live just about 31 floors above, and 100 meters away on the ground from the start of this race, which began on the beach...the swimmers made it the 1.9 KM, and took off on bikes into the mountain area around Monaco for 90 KM...we've driven lots of this route and it's TREACHEROUS in a car...can't imagine doing in on a bike! Then they came back, parked their bikes and did four laps around part of the Grand Prix track on foot...

Art and I went down to see them after three and a half hours into the race. What an amazing site to see these guys and gals, old and young, still running after all that swimming and biking...amazingly fit folks!

We made it to the finish line next to the Casino, and was amazed at the crowd, some at the finish line and others on the terrace of the Hotel de Paris, with champagne and mimosa's freely being drunk...shucks...should have gotten an invite up there!!!

What a nice day for this race, fun to watch! Afterwards, we came home and had to rest from all our walking...Art's going to get us some ice cream to much on now!!!

Day Visitors from Home!!!

Ken & Joanie Huntman came to Monaco on a cruise, and we gave them their tour of Monaco AND the entire area. They had a long port stay, so we picked them up and off we went, EVERYWHERE in the vicinity of Monaco...including Monaco...Eze, St. Paul de Vence and dinner in La Turbie...What a great time we had with the both of them...hope they enjoyed it as much as we did!!!

Anne Marie Semich and her darling daughter, Sydney, came to Monaco to join us for lunch at the Monte Carlo Country Club, where I play tennis...almost every day!!! We were in the middle of our BIG move to our new flat, but we were so excited to take the time out of our day to visit with them. What a great time we had! Thanks for coming...we love having friends visit, especially when they bring us a CD with Barry's sermon and David C's music...AMAZING!!! We miss it so!!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Summer Vacation, back in the States

Cam & Crystal, sleepy boy!

Art and I decided that we'd like to take a vacation to our home in NC in August, and that we did. We were able to spend time with Kyle, who is living there, Crystal & Camden, who came for the entire stay, which was the biggest treat to have the little one with us day in and day out, and Dustin, who was able to spend about five days with us there as well. It was reminiscent of the days when we spent all our vacations on Beech...great weather, lots of fun, and lots of food!!!

I don't' want to bore you with all the photos of this trip, but...I do want to throw in a few pics of Camden...always a chance to let you see him growing up...what a doll. Kyle and he got quite attached, as long as Kyle was taking him to the DRUMS...

Enjoy! big!

Amazing Nights in Monaco

We were privileged to have been invited, on the Fourth of July, 20 minutes before show time, to the Diana Ross Show at The Sporting, about 200 yards from our flat in Monaco, right on the water...what a night it was. We were dressed for the Monaco - USA Fourth of July Celebration on the beach when my phone rang and Anja & Toby said they had two extra tickets for dinner and the show, could we make it...well, of COURSE we 15 minutes we were dressed for the show, and at our seats!!! What a night...the company was fantastic, champagne amazing, and when the roof retracted on the 2000 seat auditorium, set with white linened dining tables, and the fireworks began, we were truly amazed. Then, the floor in front of what we thought was the stage, raised to table level, out walked Diana, in all her sequins and feathers...belting out song after song of the Supreme's, Mahogany, Billie Holiday and more! We couldn't get enough...

AGAIN, we were so lucky to be invited to see ZZ Topp with a large group of ship brokers and their friends at the same venue...and again, the same wonderful effects. Everyone was dancing, standing on chairs, and rocking out to the boys from Houston...again, an amazing night!!!

But, AGAIN, in the same week in July, our friends invited us to see Alicia Keys...and she was able to wow us again! With the retracting ceiling being an, I know it's coming, and the fireworks, just usual...but SHE WAS AMAZING...I did not bring my camera in to either of the first two shows, but slipped it in my bag for the third, and here are a few pics from that fab night!!! I'm now a big fan of ZZ Top and Alicia Keys...what fun!

Lunches by the Sea...hmmm, so nice!!!

The perfect way to spend a day in the South of France, is having a long, leisurely lunch, by the sea! Starting in June, for Art's 53rd birthday, his friend, David, along with a few others, took Art and of course, I, to Mala Beach via David's boat, for lunch.

Then, I got the lucky lottery ticket, and some friends invited me to join them to Cap d'Antibes for lunch, via their boat...Sooty Too! Our good friends, Peter & Rosy Dunn, from England, and myself, to a wonderful seaside restaurant, Belle Rives...again, just a wonderful place, great time with friends, and as usual, a bit too much ROSE'!!!

Peter, the Captain...fine job!!! And, pictures of the Belle Cap d'Antibes...

And one Sunday, we headed out, again on the Dunn's fine motor yacht, Sooty Too, to Eze bord du Mer for a lunch with some of our dearest friends here in Monaco, Tom & Linda Hsu & others, at Anjuna (my spelling on this is not too good, sounds like...) What a fabulous time we had, although it was a bit warm...we were serenaded by a troupe called the Gypsy Queens, yup, all guessed it, they were great entertainment...sang all Beatles and Beach Boys...too good! Again, a lot of Rose' Wine...and a lot of ice cubes with water...they have to have an ice machine here...not everywhere, but definitely here!!! My friend, Linda, and her husband, Tom, are standing to my right...poor Tom, took a spill getting off the boat, got soaked, and ended up the lucky duck during this very warm day in the sun!!!

Another year, another move!!!

Kitchen, small but functional View from Kitchen window...amazing!

View from the Terrace Beach just off our terrace

Fireworks, just off our balcony...amazing!!!

For many reasons, Art and I found a new flat, a bit smaller, but with a unbelievable view of the city as well as the sea. We just love it. After arranging and re arranging the furniture, we have it just the way we want it...small, but functional. Art and I both love it! So it's been a great move. Of course, in Monaco, not everything is easy...our couches are rather large and over sized...and, the poor moving men could not get them into the service elevators, so they had to carry them up to the 31st money Art ever spent on a move!!!

Anniversary Weekend in Zermatt, Switzerland

Art has always been great at planning wonderful anniversary weekend celebrations...away! This time he surprised me with a great trip to Zermatt, Switzerland, the home of The Matterhorn!!! We took off on the 13th, and drove into Italy, then north...into Switzerland. It's a beautiful drive..through Milan, and into the foothills of the Italian Alps...just a few kilometers from Lake Como. We crossed the border into Switzerland, and this is a working border, as the EU has taken out all the border checks elsewhere, but we were stopped for a second by the Swiss Guards and on we went. Our trip took us to a town outside of Zermatt where we had to park our car and take a taxi to the entrance of this combustion free engine village. Upon arrival, an Electric Van met us, and took us to our wonderfully modern chalet style hotel.

The is a new hotel that is very small, with only 30 rooms, impeccable service, fabulous facilities, and right at the foot of the towering Matterhorn. drive in at the foot of the hotel, many levels below the main floor, into a "James Bond" type cave, with automatic sliding glass doors, cylinder candles burning and an elevator at the very end of this tunnel. Wow factor is the only way to say it. You get out of the "car" and get into the elevator, leaving all your luggage behind in the good hands of the bellman, and go up to the main floor, with your own personal attendant waiting for you at the door...she greets you and takes you to a couch to relax on, while she "checks you in", and offers you an aperitif...just amazing! I am a lover of top notch service, with a welcome feel...this was IT...I was impressed!!! Noting snooty, just good service with a very comfortable attitude. The entire hotel was a fusion of old world ski lodge to a modern Swiss style hotel.

On Saturday it was crisp and clear...perfect for our journey to see "the Matterhorn"... we toured the village on foot, heading to the train that would take us to Gornergrat, which is 3089 meters, and then we would walk up further. In the village, there were these "barns" or old log cabins amidst all the more modern structures of the hotels, shops and hotels. Then we came upon two cows just standing in the street...with bells the size of my head...hanging from their necks. They live in these little "barns" when they are not out to pasture. Just amazing.

The river runs through the town, and is most powerful. Being June, the water was melting off the mountains and there was an abundance of water.

Arriving at the train, we bought our tickets, and headed to the top, passing ski lifts, gondolas, small farms, and lots of hikers and ice climbers. The views were ravishing. There were a few glimpses of the Matterhorn, but, there was a cloud hanging around it so we could only get a passing glimpse.

We arrived at Gornergrat, and took to walk the last 100 meters up to the top of the peak, so we could have a panoramic view of the Swiss Alps all around us. There was plenty of snow at the top, and we were very glad we had our warm clothing with us. While walking to the top, we came across a darling "English" couple, walking up the last 20 yards to the platform at the top of the peak. She was about to give up, as this 74 year old woman had very swollen ankles and she was quite unsteady on her feet. Art and I were right behind them, and I couldn't help but hear her say, you go on alone, and her husband said that they could not come all this way and not get to the pinnacle. With that, I came up to her and said, let us help...and I took her by the arm, along with her husband, and we guided her, slowly, with lots of support, to the top. It was enlightening, and made my day to be able to help her. Her smile and that of her husbands was worth every step. The husband said to me, I have a secret, and told me that their children had given them this wonderful trip for their 50th wedding anniversary...and this was one place they always wanted to go. We helped them achieve their feat. We proceeded to tell them that this was OUR 34th wedding anniversary, and the gift to be able to help THEM was invaluable. What a moment...we all took pictures of each other, but that darn Matterhorn would NOT show it's face to us, but for a few glimpses, as you will see in the photos.

After our ascension to the village again, by train, we took a long walk around, checking out the shops and the throngs of villagers out on this sunny day. The town was actually quite quiet, as the summer season does not start til about the last weekend in June, through the end of August. The villagers say there are more tourists in summer than in the winter ski season...I thought this was amazing!

We hope to visit Zermatt in the winter, in it's glory, covered in was an amazing trip.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Again the Tour Begins

In early June we had a visit from Joyce and Bear Baila, great friends from Jupiter...Joyce is my Birthday Buddy...we shared our 50th together in all it's splendor!!!

Joyce and Bear were great house guests...slept in our living room of our tiny flat...thank goodness it was before the move, this new place would be a BIT MORE CRAMPED than EVER!!! But, we'd do it again with them!!! Happy Campers!!!

Anyway, we did the local tours, all of Monaco, Eze, St. Paul de Vence...they loved it!!! One thing we added was a visit to the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco Ville, better known as the Roche...where Jacques Cousteau and Prince Albert I were highlighted for their expeditions. The AQUARIUM was amazing...I'd share with you some of my photos of this, hard drive crashed on my computer, had it downloaded by Art's IT guy, and believe it or not, his hard drive crashed as well...losing all my photos...I had been able to save some on a thumb drive, but most of May and early June was LOST...sorry!!!

Joyce...loves those Smart Cars!!!
Art took the day off on Friday and we headed for an Italian Market in was a hit with Joyce...we spent some money on fine leather goods, great jewelry, and a few other odds and eds...From there we went to Cinque Terre, staying in Riomaggiore this time, the southern most village. It was a great change for me. We dined on pasta, fish and of course...had a few lemoncello's after dinner...WOW, that hike up to the top of the village where our B & B was located was a bit more difficult with those in you!!! Nevertheless...we would do it again!!!

Friday we tackled Riomaggiore, ate well, walked lots and just enjoyed the fresh fruit, bread and of course, beer and more lemoncellos...Saturday, after a nice breakfast, we began our hike to Manorola, Corniglia and ended in Vernazia...returning by boat...what a beautiful time of day to take the boat. Again we dined on the local ligurian fare...awesome!!! Sunday, we made a decision to drive to Monterosso al Mare, visited the last of the villages, and then took off for Santa Margherita, where we hopped the ferry to Portofino...and again, amazing!!! All the wonderful villas along the way of this Italian Riviera coast...beach clubs, and restaurants and hotels. All primping for the summer holiday ahead.

We dined in Portofino, shopped some, and walked all about. Art and I bought our favorite Pinot Grigio which is massed produced in this area, Santa Margherita...we bought it for 10E a bottle...which at the time was about $15...and wow, that's cheaper than COSTCO...amazing!!! ha ha

After a nice long weekend, and a deluge of rain as we got on the Ferry, we headed back to our humble abode in Monaco with our guests...all the while wishing we could have stayed in the paradise of Portofino...

Monday and Tuesday was more touring...All the neighboring villages and towns, as well as the REST of Monaco...dining on the water in Cap d' the life of the locals...

As much as we tour the same places with our friends, we never have tired of the scenery, culture or beauty of this land we are so lucky to live in for a while....

Cinque Terre...Italy!!!

On May 2, three great friends from Beech Mountain, came to Monaco for 10 days of great adventure. Judy Hilsmier, Billie Jean Steele and Rosetta Bagans flew into Nice Airport, and we spent the weekend touring Monoco, Biot - France, St. Paul de Vence - France & Eze, France.

On Saturday, while touring the the city, a motorcade came by the police stopped us, so they could pass through heading into a garden show behind the Grand Opera House...which sits behind the Grand Casino. Billie & Ro were at the head of the pack, and they got a first hand view of Princess Caroline...close up!!! It was amazing!

Biot, where they make hand blown glass, in colors that are just so "Provence"... with a flower show going on in the middle of the charming town...each shop selling the wares of local artisans, along with a large warehouse outside of the village, that sells a conglomeration of all the artists work along with artists performing the art of glass blowing.

St. Paul de Vence - the village made famous by artists that came to the area a 100 years ago and painted for their room and board. The inn keepers did not know the "value" of some of these masters...and now, the collections are unimaginable. Matisse, Renoir, Dufy, Modigliani, Picasso, Miro, even Chagall, who is buried there. They came because of the light...amazing light.
We ate in a charming old chapel, that has since been turned into a restaurant. Many come to eat at the Colombe d'Or, which is at the gate of this majestic city, and is frequented by actors, artists and aristocrats. This Inn has the most extensive collection of the master's paintings & sculptures in the South of France. When you walk the cobblestone paths inside the village, you are amazed by the architecture, stone, ancient wood doors, and archways along with fountains that were the mainstay of the locals water supply in years past. It is an amazing village, and is one of Art's and my favorites....we frequent it often.

On our way back to Monte Carlo, we stopped off at another medieval village just a few kilometers outside of Monaco, high above on the cliffs, majestically overlooking Cap Ferrat...EZE Village. After walking up the long steps to get to this ancient town, full of the finest restaurants and darling shops, we toured the stone paths and had a drink at the famous Chevre d'Or hotel and restaurant, with a fabulous terrace overlook the sea. Sitting here, you can only imagine...what it would be like to have lived years back, or better yet, what it would be like to be able to truly "afford" the lifestyle that this area requires to enjoy ALL of the amenities of the upper crust of Europe.

After Art's wonderful chauffeuring of his harem, we left him in Monaco and headed out into Italy. We spent four nights in Cinque Terre, a region of the Italian Riviera, that is Southeast of Genoa and Northwest of Pisa. This area has become a mecca for American tourists of late, and has thus been taken over by Italy's National Park System, preserving this area of working villages known for their wine making, hanging on cliffs aside the olive farms, and down towards the waters edge, with the small, quaint harbours and ramps with fishing boats galore. The food, wines, craftsmanship and logistics of these cliff side villages, you will understand the desire for the abundance of tourists flocking to this area. I will say, you must be capable of hiking these paths to truly understand the beauty, but, for the less able, there is a train between the villages as well as a ferry boat to jump you from village to village.

We stayed in Monterosso al Mare, the Northern most village, and visited them all, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manorola, & Riomaggiore. The group chose to follow their guide...ME...along with Rick Steve's...who has written a series of wonderful touring books, and after following HIS lead for places to stay, dining preferences along with wonderful history lessons and walking tours, I would greatly recommend them to anyone travelling through Europe...We had Rick Steve's Italy 2008....and it became our "bible" for this trip!

Food, now, this was the REASON for the hikes between towns...we had a lovely breakfast each morning at our lovely B & B, and then headed out for the next town, knowing that our wonderful treat would be a fabulous Ligurian meal, with Pestos sauces & cream sauces with walnuts and pine well as the freshest fish, and of course, local Ligurian Wines...WHAT A TREAT...Pasta, fish, bread...salad...amazing!!!! And of course, midday we were treated with some Italian ice creams, Gelato!!! Dinner became a ritual for a couple of nights at The Belvedere, which had one of the most amazing dishes we ever saw, a fish stew that was presented in hand made crockery, and poured, table side, into a large bowl for us to feast on. The photo shows the steam coming off as the waiter pours the stew! Can you smell it? Amazing!!!

On Thursday, after visiting ALL of the villages, we headed north to Santa Margherita and Portofino, by train...what an experience this was. Santa Margherita is the larger of the two seaside towns, very large, lots of cathedrals, and bustling with a large harbour, many hotels and beaches preparing for the summer season the the Italian Riviera ahead. After a GREAT lunch in a "locals" restaurant, with some of the finest pasta of the trip, we walked on to Portofino, and was amazed at the "Nantucket" style village that was nestled along the water...with the finest of shops, restaurants and galleries we had seen anywhere in the area. This is what we call in Florida the "Gold Coast"... you can just picture Liz Taylor and either of her husbands, Richard Burton or Eddie Fisher, Ava Gardner, Truman Capote or even Rex Harrison who dropped his Oscar in the bay (it was recovered) sitting along the sea in a cafe', reading the tabloids and being photographed by the paparazzi...just imagine!!!

Returning to Monterosso on the train, we enjoyed our last night of dining in this absolutely fabulous area...only to have to leave in the morning...after some haggling with a few shop keepers and finding our favorite souvenirs...we headed back towards Monaco. This weekend, we toured more of Monte Carlo, and the Rose Garden that was an inspiration of Princess Grace...and again, walked and walked as the locals do, enjoying Calamari on the beach in Cap d'Ail...and just showed off our wonderful city to our friends.

Sunday was the Vintage Grand Prix in Monaco...two weeks before the Formula One event. Antique Race Cars in all the classes with champion drivers from a different era, driving them around the track, to the liking of a modest crowd...but never the less, so impressive. The excitement was there, but the sound of those "Formula One Race Cars" was not...thank Goodness.

Our time together was fabulous, we talked, and laughed and got along so wonderfully's a trip that I hope none of them ever forget, and I know, I never will...But, I will say, Cinque Terre, I will be back!!!