Archive for August 2009

world tour 2009

posted by Walter Grio on

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Total Roadtrip Miles by Car: 8,400 miles (13,500 km)

Countries 2009
1. Austria
2. Belgium
3. Czech Republic
4. Denmark (first time)
5. France
6. Germany
7. Hungary (first time)
8. Italy
9. Liechtenstein (first time)
10. Luxembourg (first time)
11. Monaco (first time)
12. Netherlands (first time)
13. Poland (first time)
14. Romania (first time)
15. Slovakia (first time)
16. Switzerland
17. United Kingdom
18. United States

Cities, Places, and Activities 2009
1. Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site
2. Porsche Museum
3. Germanisches Nationalmuseum
4. BMW World and Museum
5. Heidelberg Castle
6. Budapest, Hungary
7. Vienna, Austria
8. Colmar, France
9. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
10. Dresden, Germany
11. Prague, Czech Republic
12. Milan, Italy
13. Zurich, Switzerland
14. Westfalenpark, Dortmund, Germany
15. Maastricht, Netherlands
16. London, UK
17. Photoshoot with modeling agency in Iaşi, Romania
18. Paris, France
19. Paris to London roundtrip on Eurostar train
20. Photoshoot with Vogue fashion editor in London
21. Munich, Germany
22. Photoshoot at the Arabella Sheraton Nürnberg
23. Gambling with old French and Italian dudes in Monaco
24. Moving to Arlington, Virginia

What started out to be a "see as much as you can before they pull you out of this project next week" has turned into a Wally World European Tour. At first, I started with the 9 countries in 3 days adventure mainly because I really didn't know how long I was going to be here and...How long does a window of opportunity remain open?

life in monaco

posted by Walter Grio on , ,

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There is no recession in Monaco. I have never seen so many expensive toys jammed in one square meter as I did in Monte Carlo. It was like a haven for Ferraris, Bentleys, Rolls Royce, you name it, they had it. And they had lots of it. There's the famous Casino de Monte Carlo and right next to it is the Hotel de Paris. Those two places are in a square and at night, it turns into a red carpet event. I don't know what was happening but there were tons of people/tourists waiting for a sight of somebody famous. On Friday night, there were security personnel dressed in normal clothing. You could tell by the earpieces they were wearing. The cars rolled in, one by one, and eventually you couldn't even appreciate a Ferrari driving by you because there were so many of them. Even 60 year old grandmas were driving them.

It was so surreal that I can't even compare it to Las Vegas. Weird, but it's the first city that I can think of because of the extravagance. But the one major thing that separates Monaco and Vegas is CLASS. It was elegant and classy. In another town, what I would have seen would have been pretentious, but somehow in Monte Carlo, it was impressive.

In the evening, you saw people dressed up like you'd see in the movies IN THE 1940s. I was waiting for Audrey Hepburn to appear. It almost had a film-noir feel to the whole thing. I don't know if it's the french architecture mixed with the italian vibrancy mixed with the sounds of the mediterranean on top of a mountainous cliff. Maybe it's all of it. At one point, I expected James Bond to pull up, which would have been fine since the original Casino Royale was actually filmed there.

There's rich and then there's Monaco rich. And then there's fashion and then there's style. Of course anyone who's "rich" can afford anything they want and perhaps the first thing they get is a Ferrari. But if you can get ANYTHING, why get one of those? Where's the style in that? When everyone else is driving one, then where's the fun? On that level, a Ferrari becomes a Honda Accord. Everyone is driving one. Right? There's no style in that. If it was me, I would have gone with KITT from Knight Rider. Or better yet, if you really want a Ferrari, then go with Magnum PI's. You know? So many choices when you have money, but you have to do it right.

When I walked into the Casino de Monte Carlo, it felt like I walked into the movie "Eyes Wide Shut". Just look at the pictures below and you'll know why. I didn't take these as cameras were not allowed even in the lobby. But after a few minutes in there, I thought for sure it was a special club of some sort. You had to wear a jacket just to gamble. And as strange as it was, I really wish Vegas was like that. There's just no class anymore and even when there is, it's sorta gotten all pretentious as opposed to just elegant. Am I talking stupid here? It's just like back in the day, people took more time to look nice and to look proper. Now I'm not saying that it should be like that all the time, but somehow we've now completely gone on the opposite end.

What happened to style? And no, you don't have to pay hundreds of dollars to have style. It's just that people don't really care anymore.

Anyway, after a few minutes at the Casino de Monte Carlo, I decided to go to the Sun Casino instead to play some craps. It's my game and I can guarantee you that I can get you $100 every single time. The key to it is walking away when you have it. And that's what's hard. That's what's almost impossible. I actually won $500 that night gambling with some old Italian and French dudes. It was so surreal because I didn't understand what they were saying. For all I know, they were totally insulting me, but when I started rolling points, nobody cared. And that's what's great about craps. Although one time, I rolled a 7 and this old Italian dude starts showing me how I'm supposed to roll. It was classic.

I'll never forget Monaco. I think it's singlehandedly one of the best places in the world. It has everything you need and everything you can't afford. At the same time, there's something for everyone. You can hang out by the beach, go shopping, gambling, sailing, or just simply walk around and enjoy the scenery. With the Mediterranean Sea in front of you and mountains from France and Italy around you, what more do you really need?

Except maybe a Ferrari.