Dear readers: the reason for the delay in this post was that I had intended to sum‐up the entire Monte‐Carlo experience in one post. Thank you to those who emailed me to make sure everything’s OK—I appreciate the fact that you cared.
Woke up to an early, dead‐quiet Sunday morning in Würzburg, checked out and left to the train station. The plan: Hop on a train to Stuttgart, then hop on a local S‐Bahn train to Stuttgart airport, from there fly to Nice, France and then take a train to Monte‐Carlo.
This may sound too much, but it isn’t. Total of two and a half hours train ride, plus one hour flight. What I should tell you, though, is that I came up with this schedule completely by accident. Want to know what was the original, train‐based plan?
Departure (time) Arrival (time) Würzburg (12:56pm) Frankfurt (2:05pm) Frankfurt (2:50pm) Offenburg (4:27pm) Offenburg (5:04pm) Strasbourg (5:34pm) Strasbourg (6:04pm) Lyon (11:29pm) Lyon (0:50am) (that’s July 19 already!) Nice (7:39am) Nice (7:53am) Monte‐Carlo (8:15am)
That’s more than 19 hours on trains, with the night‐train (Lyon to Nice) being a regular train and not a sleeper. I suspect this crazy schedule was due to travel being done on Sunday.
Therefore you can imagine how happy I was that day when I was sitting at a cafe in Delft, and accidentally came across the fact that Air Berlin operates flights from Stuttgart to Nice. Price? About €120. Not too bad.
The streets of Würzburg were very quiet in the morning; I was walking towards the train station and it seemed as if I’m the only living thing on the planet. A quick sandwich, croissant and some terrible cappuccino at the train station, hopped on the train and dozed for a couple of hours.
Arriving at Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof at 10:30am, I had an hour to kill before taking the 11:45am S‐Bahn to the airport (flight was scheduled to depart at 2:00pm). A short stroll down Königstraße revealed very few open businesses but quite a bit of people as there appeared to be some street show going on. Anyway, weather was very pleasant so the walk wasn’t very bad after all. Hopped on the S‐Bahn and arrived at Stuttgart Airport shortly after noon time.
For some reason I had assumed Stuttgart’s Airport to be a small one; it isn’t. There are four terminals there and dozens over dozens of gates. This apparently is quite the air transportation hub. Having learned the lesson already, I did whatever I had to do (check‐in, security, etc) as soon as I got there to leave as much time for blogging worry‐free at the gate.
My taste‐buds were urging me for compensation after the terrible cappuccino earlier at the train station so I went for a bar nearby the gate to make up for it.
– “Cappuccino and a bottle of water, please.”
– “With gas or without gas?”
Now folks, allow me to rant for a bit. I haven’t been at home for nearly four months so I’m not sure whether this happens now in Canada as well, but in Europe, virtually everywhere I go asking to buy water, I get this question asked. Since when did carbonated water take over the water trade? It already happened more than once that I asked for water and the server assumed I was referring to carbonated water. What the hell is going on? “Water” means “water” (that’s still water for you), not “please tell me what kind of water you have”, and definitely not “carbonated water”.
What’s next? Asking for orange juice and being asked “with pulp or without pulp”? Come on! If I have any further requirements of my water (or orange juice) I will tell you.
In software architecture and design, one of the elements that distinguishes professionals from idiots is the adherence to a principle called “TPLS”: “The Principle of Least Surprise”. It basically means that, when software communicates with humans, it should make the least number of assumptions possible and, in times of doubt, prefer the scenario that would be the least surprising to the user. I strongly suggest people working in restaurants / bars to follow this very same principle. If I ask for water, give me water. Not water with gas, not water with flavour, and certainly not water with shrimps swimming in it (I’m telling you, this last one will happen).
Anyway, what upset me more than the question was the water that I got. I poured some into the glass, took a sip and I am telling you, guys & gals, more disgusting water than this I have never had. I tasted tap‐water in Israel during drought years that tasted better than that. It had such an objectionable aroma that I was sure somebody was pulling a joke on me. Took a look at the bottle: an extremely fancy sticker labelling this water as “premium water”.
I recall reading the other day about the new advents in water trade. Regular mineral water is out; enter the water‐that‐will‐kiss‐your‐ass era. There are laboratories out there working on, and businesses selling, water that supposedly bear further “benefits” to the drinker than just providing with the H₂O required for living and a few trivial minerals. This bottle I was drinking might have really been one of those, and if it has, then this “water priming” technology is one technology I would never invest my money in. Pure crap.
Got the bill—€8. The water cost more than the cappuccino. Well, shit then. Now I have to look at the fucking menu before even ordering water, to make sure I’m not given “premium water” by accident. Perhaps I should adjust my investment portfolio to assign a specific asset‐class for “premium water”?
My flight to Nice, France left about 15–20 minutes late but arrived on time. The views from the window showed nature at its greatest—snow‐peaked mountains, lots of lakes, and then, as if out of nowhere, there came the blue.
The huge, brilliant, smack‐your‐ass‐beautiful blue of the Mediterranean Sea.
Oh, just the thought that I spent my first 25 years of living 4km away from the Mediterranean Sea but rarely found the time to enjoy it. Sunny skies, and the sun makes this sea appear perfectly blue with way more glitter than the eyes can fathom. I gazed, awestruck, for about 15 minutes as the aircraft flew kilometres into the sea area and then back to land at Nice’s airport, with its runway being just a few meters off the sea.
Temperature outside: 31℃, insane humidity as we’re right at the sea. Baggage pickup took forever; a few Euros for a direct bus to the train station, from where I took the train to Monte‐Carlo’s central train station—a short 210 minutes ride mostly ridden by the sea: hundreds of people were sunbathing, swimming and engaged in other sorts of activities (like volleyball; I suggest you all go get a good cold shower), and the views—tall cliffs, the Mediterranean kissing their feet—is nothing short of spectacular. As I was intending to spend a day in Nice before leaving the area, I decided to not take pictures—those would come later.
Train arrived at Monte‐Carlo’s central train station right on time. A long walk through a tunnel and I found myself outside, in what I later learned was the main exit from the train station.
Welcome to Monte‐Carlo, Monaco.
Monaco (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monaco; lots of things in Monaco require payment, but don’t worry, its Wikipedia article is still free) is the second smallest country in the world (after Vatican City). 33,000 people live in this mini‐country (2.02 square kilometres). It is a tax haven; income taxes don’t exist here, which is one of the reasons why 84% of the people who live here are considered “wealthy”.
Monte‐Carlo (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Carlo) is one of Monaco’s administrative areas, and perhaps the most famous of them all—mainly for its casino. 3,000 people live here, and it is considered one of the world’s top vacation spots.
If you are a bit tired of where you live and consider moving, most chances are that Monte‐Carlo is not on your list. Wish‐list, maybe—but not much further than that. Monte‐Carlo has traditionally been leading the list of the “priciest place to own a home” (source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29183691) on planet Earth. In 2009, the average property price in Monte‐Carlo was—take a deep, DEEP breath—$4,420 per square foot. For those of you who are used to the metric system, that’s about $47,576.48 per square metre. My house in Waterloo, Ontario is just over 1,800 square feet: had it been in Monte‐Carlo, I would be the owner of a $7,956,000 home.
Do you even get the magnitude of this? How about looking at it from this angle: everybody claims London (UK) is expensive; the same survey I referred you to above has London’s property costing around $1,928 per square foot (third in the world; the second one being Moscow). That’s less than half. By these standards, places like West Vancouver and Beverly Hills don’t really measure up.
As I exited the station, the first thing I did was ask Google Maps for BlackBerry for the route to my hotel.
I think I should be frank here. I have always claimed that I am much less smarter than I appear to be. That was particularly true at that instance of looking for my way to the hotel. Last time I was burnt with Google Maps was when I tried to find my walking route in Rome and instead got instructions to break into private property and jump off a 40m cliff; that was good indication that Google Maps isn’t quite the brightest tool when it comes to getting walking instructions in hilly areas.
Now, had I been nearly as smart as some people insist I am, I would pay attention to the fact that the word Monte sort‐of resembles “mountain”; in fact, it is the word “mountain” in Italian. That itself should have been enough warning to seek some alternate way of getting to the hotel—perhaps a taxi?
But… no. Instead, I started following the instructions. That’s when things started to get really funny.
Monte‐Carlo is actually built mostly on the slope of a mountain. In order to get to higher altitude, you could follow the roads but that creates a nightmare in case you have to travel really high up the mountain, as roads are, after all, subject to gravity and there’s only that much grade that a road can be built with. In other words, if your destination is high up the mountain, you’re going to have to walk a lot following the road in order to get there.
Enter stairways. The stairways provide you with a way to go up the mountain without following any road. Think about a stairway in a park; same concept, only narrower, much steeper and built right by apartments, houses etc. You can literally look through apartments’ windows just by walking those stairs.
It was a bit tricky for me to get adjusted to Google Maps providing me with directions to follow stairways, rather than streets. Stairways, apparently, have names too.
The weather was very hot and humid; I found my first set of stairs—right next to the train station—and started walking up. With a 17kg backpack on my back, that was one hell of a cardio exercise in the sun. I had to stop multiple times on my way up, until I became a total and utter puddle of sweat. Just as I couldn’t take it any longer, the stairway (the second one I had to take) ended and I was finally facing a road.
I felt very smart, but that feeling lasted only two seconds. Looking around me—that’s 20 minutes after extensive cardio work climbing up winding stairways—I realized that I was pretty much exactly where I started—only 30–40 metres higher.
“It would be nice if somebody put an elevator here”, I thought to myself and continued walking and walking. I found my hotel completely by accident, on my way following Google Maps; the fucking program intended me to walk additional 1.5km as it thought that my hotel was further uphill (which it wasn’t); miraculously, the true location of my hotel was on the path that Google Maps asked me to go.
I entered the hotel sweating like the most out‐of‐shape pig you could ever imagine. I was literally dripping sweat, which took the receptionist completely by surprise.
– “Why didn’t you take the elevator?”
I started seeing things a little blurry; I didn’t know whether it was because I was sweating my mind out and it’s my time to die, or maybe because of the sweat getting into my eyes making everything appear fuzzy. I had more water on me, than in me. I therefore had to look at her, concentrate, and ask the inevitable.
– “What elevator?!”
HA. And now, ladies and gentlemen, is the encore in this ongoing punishment for my stupidity and ignorance.
As Monte‐Carlo is wholly located on slopes of mountains, apparently people encountered the walking challenge before. To address that, Monte‐Carlo offers various escalators, elevators and stairways all over this tiny little city, to help people like me (or smarter than me) get around. Imagine my feeling of total failure once the receptionist told me that there’s an elevator to take me straight downstairs (to the train station, which is the best location to start exploring the city)—literally 3 minutes walk away from the hotel.
I was too tired and sweaty to be impressed with that; took the key and headed to the room. Not only was I sweaty, warm and tired, now I also felt stupid. Long shower to wash away the pain and the sweat, and then drank 4 cups of water—I drank those as if I was breathing them in.
A great nap for a couple of hours and I went outside to explore the city for a bit. After a very short visit to a local small restaurants—right by the train station—selling one of the worst pizzas I ever had, I went towards the port.
I will let the pictures do most of the talking, folks. Even though I would probably never choose to live here (even if I could afford it; my ultimate dream location is West Vancouver and I find it very unlikely to ever change), I can totally understand why real‐estate in this place is so much in demand.
View from uphill, where my hotel was:
Down the escalators & elevators to the Port area: this area is where the yachts of the rich & famous are located. I’m pretty sure that, had I sold my house, I could afford a decent down‐payment for one of those.
The port is also one of the major touristic areas; a few pricey tourist‐traps along the walkway, and quite a few facilities for kids.
Views from the port:
Walking around the piers…
After walking around for quite a bit, I became hungry again. Looking for a decent restaurant in Monte‐Carlo using Google Maps appeared tricky: the problem with this city is that roads are very complex. As there are actually multiple levels you can walk on, it’s very easy to lose your way even with a map. I was too hungry to cope with that and headed straight back to the port. The sun was down already; and at night, the port area is breathtaking.
Late already, so I went back to my hotel and decided to continue blogging from the panoramic terrace at the top. Sweet breeze, perfect weather late at night and here’s the view:
Monte‐Carlo is indeed beautiful; however, all of this beauty does tend to make one wonder. What is it really good for, and how does it contribute to humanity, society, as a whole?
I would take a wild rocky mountain, forest at its feet and a few lakes around, over Monte‐Carlo any day of the week without even blinking; and the mountain, forest and lakes don’t cost money—they are free. I am not saying that I am against money and what it’s used for: what I do object, however, is the shift in people’s minds towards over‐appreciating the power of money to the point of worshipping it. Places like Monte‐Carlo and Las Vegas simply pushes glamour and glitter in your face in such a way that challenges your belief in the true worth of things. As if flipping a finger in your face telling you “we are the richest; here is what our money can make and, without money, you are worthless here”. Apparently, there is such a thing as too much money.
The next day, I woke up in the morning and decided to tour Monte‐Carlo a bit further: went to the port and then started walking north‐east, along the water, until at some point I actually reached Le Sporting Monte‐Carlo, where the concert was to take place. Sunny day, brilliant sky and here’s my camera talking again.
Views from my way to the escalator—still up the mountain:
Down at the port and starting to walk north‐east, the brilliant Mediterranean makes you understand why some consider this to be one of the best stretches of beach in the world.
As I’m walking by the beach, you realize another thing about Monte‐Carlo: the cars. I am not a car‐lover myself—I own a 1998 Honda Accord with more than 330,000 clicks on it and will not consider changing it before it drops dead—but people with the eye for cars would call this place “heaven”. A Porsche is nothing out of the ordinary here: Lamborghini, Ferrari, Lotus, Aston Martin, Audi R8 and such are very common here: Bentley cars are used by quite a few hotels as limousines. I walked by a Lamborghini store that just stood there in much the same way that your local Honda dealership does where (most of) you live.
The sight of the see is a medicine for the soul; these pictures don’t do justice to the actual feeling of relaxation you get while watching this. If only those hotels and restaurants weren’t there, this place would be one hellish piece of heaven.
Scores of terraces at the beach area; most of them almost completely empty as most people are taking a dive at the sea.
A short walk past the beach, and the beach ends; I mean, it ends for you, the walker; at least for a little while. Some hotels and resorts have their own private beaches, occasionally with fences around them. Call me stupid (as some of you usually do) but I think this is pretty pretty low.
The next picture shows a huge resort, I think it’s called “Monaco Bay”; it is adjacent to Le Sporting Monte‐Carlo.
… And its surrounding beaches…
I decided to make the Le Sporting Monte‐Carlo the furthest point I’d get to, and started walking back.
On my way back, I stopped for about an hour worth of lunch, consuming a nice piece of steak, some goat‐cheese salad (heavenly) and dessert for the bargain price of €26. Things are very expensive here.
Back to the port…
… And took the escalator up towards the hotel.
Quick shower and I decided to take a nap before heading to the concert. I knew that, due to the location, the venue, the nature of the event (dinner included etc) that this is going to be a memorable experience—maybe good, maybe bad, but definitely memorable; and, as you’ll shortly see, I was correct.
The two concerts in Monte‐Carlo were different from all other concerts in this tour. Contrary to a regular concert in which you pay for a ticket and being admitted to the show, things at Le Sporting Monte‐Carlo work differently. You don’t pay here for a concert, but rather, you’re paying for a full event, or experience.
The price for a ticket for any of the two concerts was €140; as the ticket sales went on before the Euro took a serious beating, it was about $250 CDN each when I had bought those. That’s almost twice the average of the North American shows.
That price struck quite a few people as inappropriate, given the fact that concerts here are typically shorter (to compare: Eric Clapton was here a few years ago, same setting, same concept—ticket prices were around €200 each). I really can’t understand people’s puzzlement over this: if you’re looking for a concert proper—don’t go to Le Sporting Monte‐Carlo as this venue is not intended for a plain, admit‐watch‐go concert. What you’re buying for this kind of money is not just Mark Knopfler performing in front of you—instead, it’s a unique 4‐hours experience in a setting that you’re very unlikely to come across elsewhere.
Another different thing here was that the concerts in Monte‐Carlo are the only concerts in this tour for which there was a dress‐code. Jacket & Tie Required; without a jacket & tie, you’re not allowed into the venue. Some venues hold jackets and ties for those who neglected to show up with their own, but you can never just assume that you’ll be provided with a set. Also, there’s always the issue of size; you wouldn’t want to rely on the venue to provide you with garments and then end‐up walking into the venue in a suit that’s way too large on you.
Therefore, yes; I actually carried some event clothes with me all along. As I packed before departing Toronto to Dublin, I tucked the jacket, the shirt, the tie and the elegant pants all the way at the bottom of the backpack. That’s a bit of extra backpack weight and volume, for just two concerts (out of 87). But still, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
Was very weird for me to dress‐up for this event. After cruising North America and Europe for nearly four (!) months dressed like an out‐of‐work teenager (well, you have to pack light), it was weird to dress‐up again the way that I often dress‐up for business. Last time I dressed like this was a few days before the tour began. To tell you that I’m happy to look sophisticated again? Well, I could say that, but that would be lying.
Suits just look fake to me, that’s all. Whoever is in the habit of judging people for the “better” by the quality of their suits, is a complete and total moron that deserves a great deal of mockery. Whenever I’m in a suit—and that, unfortunately, happens more frequently than I’d wish—I feel as if I’m wearing some sort of a mask.
But anyway, I did what I had to do; it was too warm outside so I decided to take a taxi to the venue. €13 for a 5‐minute drive and I arrived at Le Sporting Monte‐Carlo.
The schedule was to have dinner between 8:30pm and 10:30pm, and then concert between 10:30pm and 12:30am; arrived at 8:10pm or so, and there was already a line‐up at the entrance. Not quite the Lucca‐style line‐up, though: people here did the best they could to look sharp and smart, and the women? better not even mention as I have yet to glance at so many breathtaking women all at once within a radius of maybe 10 metres.
Signs at the entrance, as well as instructions from ushers, called for no photographs during the show (before & after the show—OK).
My turn at the line‐up and I was escorted to table #19. In all my history of dining out, I can only recall a handful of occasions being treated as superbly as here: these people here know how to host patrons.
A quick glance at the wines list, looking for a glass (wouldn’t consume a bottle, or half a bottle, by myself), I noticed a long list of wines by the bottle—the most expensive of which went for around €2,300. I felt a bit stupid, but I had to ask the waiter to show me exactly where are the by‐the‐glass prices; those turned out to be in a separate menu. Cheapest glass went for €14—that’s very expensive but I have to say that it was worth it.
(By the way, the bottle of water you see by the wine is not of any “premium water” brand. Simple bottle of Evian I think. Who needs anything more than that)
The venue—one of the most beautiful indoor venue I ever been to, if not the most beautiful one—filled‐up quickly.
Here’s a picture showing you the number of people working just at the entrance.
Quite a bit of glass and mirrors in this venue.
My neighbour agreed to take a photo of me. There you go, myself in a suit.
The menu was pre‐determined by the venue—you couldn’t really select anything but they put a “menu” there anyway to show you what you’re going to get.
Let me read this to you. I suggest you fix your jaw in upright position.
Appetizer: Peas tartlet with chanterelle mushrooms with sweet‐and‐sour sauce, roasted quail, pan‐sauteed foie gras, wild mixed salad leaves.
Main course: Sea bass with orange peel, artichoke and asparagus “poivrade”, spider crab, citrus fruit vinaigrette.
Dessert: Frozen terrine with strawberries and fine jelly with raspberry vinegar, coconut salad, morellos sorbet.
To finish: Sporting Monte‐Carlo delicacies and chocolates, with coffee.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. That’s French. Remember what I wrote before about Italian cuisine and French cuisine? The Italians go for simple—and it’s very tasty (which is why it still is my favourite cuisine; the combination of simplicity and taste is a winner); the French are much more elaborate, putting a huge amount of effort into everything to provide you with the most delicate tastes possible.
As I was waiting for the feast to begin, I suddenly realized that the hall was now better lit than before. Lo and behold, a retractable roof!
The combination of sky, mountains and lots of glass and mirrors presented a fantastic look.
As I was busy getting impressed by the venue and imagining how this all would look at night, there came the appetizer.
Every bite of this was a world of tastes. Eating such food makes you appreciate how much time and effort, as well as imagination, somebody had to come with in order to create such great food.
About 800 people at the venue, dinner is on its way…
… And here’s the main course.
You have to savour these dishes slowly, patiently. This is not the type of food you wanna rush through, and you certainly don’t want to go to a restaurant serving this food while you’re absolutely starving. This is food for enjoyment, not for survival. And yes, the sea bass was great.
Went outside the concert hall…
When I was back, looking at the hall I realized that it’s night time already. You need a professional photographer to take pictures that would do any justice to reality—I am telling you, folks: this is the indoor‐equivalent of Denver’s Red‐Rocks Amphitheatre.
Delicious. Here’s two of the waiters:
A lot of glass:
I decided to finish it all with cappuccino. Also, very well done.
A few last shots before the concert…
And the concert started at around 10:30pm.
Photos were not allowed so I didn’t take any (however, prior to the second concert, I understood that taking a few shots is OK—within reason, and without flash. So look below for concert pictures).
The way the venue is laid out, there is a square dance‐floor in front of the stage; no tables were placed there; maybe one or two couples danced during the pre‐show (I suppose it was a local band; playing background tunes). For the main event, though, the stage was actually moved (and I mean literally moved; electronically, that is) forward until it captured the dance‐floor area.
My seat was located at the left‐hand side of the stage; upon turning 90° to my right, I was facing Mike McGoldrick. Certainly not the ideal location to watch a concert from, but the sound—well, the sound in that particular location was better than the sound I had experienced from a few front‐row‐centre shows before.
A very short setlist—eleven songs—not quite unexpected as this is how concerts work here. Coyote, Prairie Wedding, Hill Farmer’s Blues and Done with Bonaparte were omitted.
At the beginning of the concert—I believe it was right after Border Reiver—Mark asked the audience something that I heard as “Are there any fanclubbers here tonight?”. Quite the unusual question, therefore I’m not entirely sure that that’s what he said—however, apparently I wasn’t the only one hearing this because a handful of other people—of the younger members in the audience—appeared to have heard it as well and cheered. Mark’s response: “Good! Good to see you all”.
It was a great concert and it was fun to see elegantly‐looking guests cheering and enjoying the music. Some, however, apparently were too occupied with their outside lives as usage of cellular phones was pretty apparent, especially in front of the stage where, I suppose, the “big shots” were seated.
Even during the show, the venue’s staff were available for patrons to answer whatever need they might have had.
Romeo and Juliet and Sultans of Swing turned to be the cheer‐squeezers; lots of flowers (of the vases that were located on the dining tables) were thrown onto the stage, some during the show but most after the last Telegraph Road chord was struck. No “Running of the Bulls” this time—well, wouldn’t that be funny, seeing importantly‐looking people dressed‐up in suits rushing to the stage?
Before proceeding to the encore, Peter McKay arrived at the stage armed with drinks for the band—this time, though, dressed elegantly, with a light‐pink jackets that… well… what can I say… looked peculiar. Some band members had a laugh; I did, too.
The usual encore and the lights went on. Good concert, ended at around 12:30am.
Catching up with emails after the concert, I once again came across the ugly side of being famous (or, in my case, “mini‐famous”); forget the details—I’m just saying this in order to explain why it is that I arrived at my hotel very late (at around 2:00am), walking slowly along the beach, thinking about human nature and what motivates people to be jackasses. This trip is one big learning experience, I suppose; the fanatics, the jealous and the petty are all over, so might as well accept it and move on.
A short night sleep and I woke up for my last day in southern France (for this tour, of course; I will be back).
I always heard of the nice beaches Nice (pronunciation in English: Nee‐s) has to offer so I decided to spend the day there. After having my BlackBerry collapse (again! but at least I have a lead as to why this happens. I suspect it has something to do with BlackBerry App‐World’s archiving feature) at the morning, I restored it to manageable state, hopped on a train from Monte‐Carlo and arrived at Nice‐Ville train station 20 minutes later.
Well… Let the pictures tell the story.
View from the hotel’s panoramic terrace:
Quick lunch with Elian and Arnaud who left Paris at 4:00am to get to Nice ten hours later, and I went for a short—perhaps too short—nap before the concert.
Shower, dress‐up… and then it came to me that I am very, very tired. I don’t know what was the reason for this but I was exhausted to the point of hardly being able to keep my eyes open. As we drove to Monte‐Carlo, though, I found enough reasons to keep my eyes open.
The city of Nice from above:
A few minutes drive, and then you get this:
The south of France is gorgeous, isn’t it.
Arrived at the venue: same deal as yesterday—actually, I was seated almost exactly where I was seated the night before, just two tables to the right (better view).
The tiredness just killed me. I didn’t know what to do with myself to make me wake up, and I’m even more worried that I don’t know exactly what caused it. Nevertheless, I took some time before the concert to go to the venue’s terrace and take a few shots.
Same dinner, same almost everything—but with dinner like this, I really have no trouble eating it more than once in my life. The concert started a bit later today—very close to 11:00pm.
The July 20 concert was slightly better than that of the night before with impressive performances of almost all songs; unfortunately, the Monte‐Carlo concerts are not included in the Simfy Live recordings—too bad, I’m sure you would have enjoyed it.
One particular performance that stood out was Telegraph Road: Mark performed the outro solo—at least the first minute of it—in a slightly different “way”, as if approaching the solo from a different angle. More work on the lower tones; superb work which made lots of limbs appear in the air afterwards.
Something very bizarre took place once Telegraph Road was over and the encore was about to start. Some mature fellow was standing by the right corner of the stage, and started howling at Mark—it sounded more like a howl than speech—an act that didn’t impress Mark in the slightest, to say the least. I have no idea what has been said there, but Mark kept nodding his head repeatedly, in a way that I had never seen him nodding before—there was quite a bit of disapproval there.
As the band members returned to their positions for the encore, Mark mimed those howls as he was looking at the band members—some of which (including myself) responded with more than a fair share of laughter.
Concert ended close to 1:00am and we were on our way to the terrace again, to take a few photos of the stunning surroundings of Le Sporting Monte‐Carlo:
Left this wonderful venue…
And dozed‐off for most of the ride back to Nice. Fell asleep in matter of seconds.
Signing‐off this post as I am sitting in my hotel room in Lyon; will go for dinner before hitting tonight’s show. Lyon seems to be a pretty town.