I really wanted to do this trip report blogpost in several parts. I also really wanted to do it while I was out in Monte Carlo but the hotel wi-fi wouldn't let me establish a connection to my server. A blogpost without pictures is a pretty tough and boring read. Sadly this also meant failing my challenge of writing a blogpost every week, but at least it wasn't due to my laziness. This is my first trip report in a long time, on account of having not travelled anywhere particularly interesting since 2006. Please let me know what you think, any feedback is always appreciated.
Saturday 21st April: I leave for Monaco, flying Gatwick to Nice. I hate travelling, let's just get that said right now. I love going places, and enjoy the journeys themselves for the most part. What I hate though, is the deadlines and the whole chaotic rush between each part of the journey. I'm contantly paranoid I'm going to miss the train/flight/coach. Even when I go to visit my son every week I leave way too early and always have at least a half hour to kill somwhere along the line as a result. Obviously this trip was more important still, what with flights to catch too, and as a result I wasted an entire day over a 90minute flight. Having woken up at ~0700 and packed and quadruple checked I had everything I left my house around 1400 to catch my 1830 flight from Gatwick. I live in London - I know. My paranoia aside, I did arrive safe and sound in Nice around 2100 local time. I almost shelled out €90 for a cab to my hotel before a local I had met on the flight stopped me and told me there was a coach for €13 (if you're under 26). I was very grateful for this, a huge win for a life-nit like myself. 40 minutes later I was at my hotel. The Monte Carlo Bay Hotel, arguably the best hotel in Monte Carlo - which is saying a lot.
After a half hour of stupidity at the front desk where I found out my room had been booked under the name Lucy something, I finally was able to check in and put my feet up. The room itself was fantastic. A huge bed, with at least four too many pillows. A super slick bathroom, plenty of storage space and an adorable little balcony. All pictured below, click the photos for larger images.
Sunday 22nd April: This was mostly a day where I got set-up and settled. It included a very long unplanned walk up and down the slopes of Monte Carlo (I got lost). For those who don't know, Monte Carlo is built on a slope and it has to be shaped this way, but it also means that unless you actually turn back on yourself you'll inadvertently climb this hill, while trying to get back to your hotel. I did just that, but thankfully found the teeny tiny narrow stairways and elevator systems on the way down. I also stumbled upon the clay tennis courts where they had just held the ATP masters? Someone correct me if I'm wrong on that. Again photos of all of this below.
Food was interesting in Monte Carlo to say the least. By interesting I generally mean amazing food, at astounding prices. Not the good kind of astounding. Breakfast (thank goodness) was included in my hotel package. One of the first meals that I got was a light lunch, I ordered a pasta dish at a local cafe and water to drink. The meal was good, but I was brought a 500ml bottle of evian - which I didn't want. I wanted tap water, a phrased I learned very quickly after said 500ml bottle cost me €6. Which was a third of the entire bill! Dinner was a little different, I ate at the hotel resturant for the first time. I ordered the Veal steak, which came on a bed of honey glazed steam vegetables and was very tasty indeed. The Main was ~€35 but at least the tap water was free.
Monday 23rd April: The first real day on the job, as it were. Things were set-up and while there wasn't much of an audience, as it was only the Super High Roller running along with some satellites. There was plenty of testing to be done for the Twitter Wall project I was running. I won't bore you with the finer details of that as it's not all that interesting unless you were there, but below are a couple of snaps that show you a little about it.
Tuesday 24th April: Things started to have a rhythm by now, I was getting up and doing some bodyweight exercises in my room, then heading down for the buffet breakfast. As a result of the now known prices of food in Monte Carlo and the €50 a day budget I was working with - breakfast became a mission to stuff myself with fresh fruit, coffee and a boat load of pastries.
Having a big late breakfast meant that I could have a nother large meal in the early afternoon and then just have coffee/tea and a dessert in the evening. The system worked out well, I almost stuck to the budget and enjoyed every meal I had aside from the ravioli. I don't recall what I had on each day, and I didn't photograph everything but below is a solid selection of what I ate out there. Everything was of great quality, all freshly made and frankly some of the best food I've ever eaten. You get what you pay for, and the service was fantastic too.
Spring vegetable risotto
Chicken ceaser salad wrap
Lamb and black olive ravioli
Lamb and black olive ravioli (2)
Swordfish steak with mango and a sweet potato mash
...that turned out to be a lovely lemon tart
Fresh strawberry cream slice
Chocolate pastry and a pot of Assam tea
Mystery chocolate dessert...
...that was filled with chocolate mousse and creme brulee
End of the first week: By this point I have to admit that I was getting bored of Monte Carlo. Not because it's not an interesting or beautiful city - as it very much is. More because I was out there on my own, and the few opportunities I had to socialize were spoiled. either by the fact that I knew I wouldn't be able to afford to participate, because I was tied up with the Twitter Wall project or due to having an early flight home - in the case of the PokerStars Party on the last Tuesday. That said I was quite content just spending the evenings reading in my room or out on my balcony. A few nights and mornings I went for walks along the beach/piers or through the town too. Below is a video, which is fundementally a panoramic shot of the hotel and outdoor pool/coastal view on one of the sunniest days. Apologies for the wind noise.
Overall I had a good time, had I been out there for a little less time or with a little more money I would likely have enjoyed it more. Equally if I had traveled out with someone else I'd have no doubt had a better time than I did. I certainly can't complain though, it's great that my work allows me to have the opportunity to travel to such wonderful places. If all goes to plan I should be heading out to EPT Barcelona in August for the opening stop of Season 9 of the EPT. Also, I mentioned in my last post that I was hoping to play some side events while I was out here - that didn't happen. Mostly due to not having time but also because I've decided to move house and it's clear than money would be better saved up for deposits etc. rather than used to enter a couple of live MTTs. More on the planned move etc. in a different post.
The Spring Championship of Online Poker is upon us once again and while it doesn't start till the 6th of May I'm already planning it out. As I'm off to Monaco for the EPT Grand Final at the end of this week and by the time I'm back it will be just days away!
Having written a blogpost every week for so much of this year it might seem like I've stopped blogging completely. I assure you I haven't I'm just very busy lately. However no so busy that I couldn't play some of the Spring Championship of Online Poker this year.