The Jewel in the Formula 1 Crown

We woke up early this morning to a whiff of excitement in the air – we were anchored off Monte Carlo and today we were going to the Formula 1 Grand Prix! 🙂

All F1 races are full of money, glitz and glamour but the Monaco Grand Prix is known as the ‘jewel in the crown’.  Monaco is world famous for two things – motor racing and its casinos.  It is full of millionaires, flash cars and even flashier yachts.

We have been to several Formula 1 Grands Prix before, namely: Canada, USA, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Australia and we had also been to see the practice session in Monte Carlo before, when visiting Villefranche on a cruise in 1995.

But today was the real deal and the weather already promised to be hot and sunny, with a tantalising sea breeze.

We got the liberty boat across to the shore fairly early; there is always a lot to do on race day even before the actual F1 race starts.  For example there are other, lower-formula races as well as the F1 practice sessions and the drivers’ parade.  There are also lots of stalls to look around selling merchandise, food and liquid refreshments.  🙂

Then, of course, there are the millionaires’ yachts.  You could easily spend a whole day looking at them and dreaming…  The yachts were absolutely amazing; huge, sleek white things with their names painted on them, their own private gang-planks and their own inflatable tenders.  Some of the names were Lionheart, One More Toy, Caipirinha and one for me called Deb’s Delight.  (I wish).  The yachts were huge; much bigger than our house at home!  We could see the rich and famous guests drinking champagne on board some of them.   In fact, we saw Eddie Jordan embarking on Lionheart.

It was certainly a world away from our little working-class lives.

The sun was blazing in a cloudless Mediterranean sky so we enjoyed a couple of cans of ice-cold beer each.  We had brought a big Union flag to wave and we had a brief chat with some Brazilians who had brought their flag.  They high-fived Trevor because he was wearing his Ayrton Senna t-shirt.  🙂  One of the things we love about the F1 Grands Prix is that there are about 100,000 people there, from lots of different nationalities, yet there is never any trouble.  The atmosphere among the fans is always great.

We took our seats at the “swimming pool” grandstand and inserted our ear plugs prior to the start of the parade lap.  People who have never been to an F1 grand prix can have absolutely no idea of the volume of sound once those cars start – it really is deafening and hurts your ears after one or two laps.  Ear defenders or plugs really are a must.  🙂

Even those who claim they are not really motor racing fans cannot help but get caught up in the excitement; it’s infectious.  From the tremendous noise and the smell of tyres and oil and petrol in the air, to the excited tones of the commentator coming over the loudspeaker and the cheers and shouts of the crowd, it really is a great day out.  Add in the odd crash and the appearance of the safety car for a bit more excitement.

The race was won by Sebastian Vettel, followed by Fernando Alonso and third place on the podium was our own Jensen Button.

Back on board the Journey we showered and changed for dinner and had our meal accompanied by the free house wine.  🙂  We then went along to the show lounge where they were a classical pianist was performing; I was looking forward to it as I love classical piano music.  It was a pity, however, that there was only about a dozen people scattered around the show lounge; the Journey was not due to leave Monte Carlo until 1.00am, so it looked as though the majority of people had gone or remained ashore rather than come back on board.

Tonight was our last night on board the Azamara Journey, we would be due back in Nice tomorrow for our flight home.

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