Monte Carlo, darling

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Years ago in London, my chef friend Ted and I shared a Valentine’s Day dinner together since neither of us was seeing anyone. Over post-dinner Calvados, we concocted a bold plan – we’d spend the weekend in Monte Carlo! We rushed to my flat and drunkenly punched up Expedia to book tickets. We drank more wine as we booked a hotel.

Let this be a lesson. Never book travel plans under the influence.

At Heathrow three days later, the agent couldn’t find our booking. Uh-oh. Turned out that we’d booked tickets for the same dates in March, a month later. Merde. We faced a dilemma – buy a new flight or waste the money on the pre-paid hotel room. We bit the bullet, paid the last-minute airfare and went anyway. That night, a guy in the Grand Casino bar gave me an unmarked chip to play on roulette. I put it on seven – and won. Happy for me, he told me to keep the winnings. It turned out to be a 50 euro chip, which at 35-to-1 meant that I’d won more than $2,000. Chef Ted is a master poker and black jack player. He won big, too. So we paid for both trips, when we used our other tickets and went back a month later.

For this trip to Monte Carlo, the best part was arguably spending the morning taking in the view from the ship watching the massive luxury yachts going in and out of the harbor. It’s a view that you can’t get from anywhere other than a cruise ship or perhaps a helicopter.

For lunch, we wandered into town to find that Le Grand Depart for the Tour de France was happening in Monte Carlo the next day. (Signs were everywhere, even on this Smart car.) We passed by yachts with bikes set on trainers on the back. Even as we had lunch on the beach, we saw a couple of potential cyclists ogling the semi-naked women.

About katflinn

Kathleen Flinn is the author of "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry," "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School" and "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good." All are published by Viking/Penguin.

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