Sunday, 15 May 2011

57 Monza, Monaco and St Tropez

Friday 6th May
We woke up to the early bird catches the worm morning song.  I have to admit, that I am in my element. Weekends don’t get much better than this. At home (with Lizzie) I have all the nature I want, and very shortly I will be watching some of the riders I really admire. I am going to be in one of the most famous race tracks in the world watching and chatting to the stars of motor cycle racing, WSB’s. So far it doesn’t get any better.  Retirement, I recommend it.
We fell asleep to frogs calling through the twilight, Ray and I sat out just listening to the sounds and dodging bats. We left all the screens over our sky lights open also so that we could wake up with the sunlight pouring through.  For the first time in my life, I was up early, happy, and raring to go. We had breakfast in the sun and then headed off for Monza.   We are probably 20 miles north of the circuit, and the site is called” Two lakes”, in English, or Due Laggio, or similar in Italian.
Anyway as usual I digress.  
WSB stands for World Super Bikes. These bikes are basically the same as you can buy in the shops with some limited performance and safety mods. The other main class of bikes are called Superstocks and as the name suggests, these are road bikes without lights. Despite being road bikes, these beasts are frighteningly fast.
We hit Monza and bought our tickets.  It was a 100 Euros for the three days, with entry to the paddock.  That means we could go and watch the practice and walk around where all the riders have their motor homes and generally chat to the fans.  On our first walk around, we came across Alex and Sam Lowes, who are two identical twins.  Alex rides for the British Super Bikes, and we’d watched him the week before (on telly), have a brilliant ride at Oulton Park.  His brother Sam is in WSB’s and he was going to be riding over the weekend. He is sporting a shoulder which was broken in 5 places, just 3 weeks ago in Assen and when we saw them, he had just finished his practice.  For a man in pain, he was really chatty and he showed us his injury.  
The twins, Sam and Alex Lowes, you can just see the bandages under Sams left collar. Good hard boys and likely Britains future racing hopes.

I have to say they are two of the nicest young men we have come across and so full of enthusiasm for their sport.  We arranged to go back later and have a photo taken with them, which we did albeit on the Saturday, but it was a great long weekend and on Sunday, at the racing, we met up with a few other Brits and took the mikey out of the Italians when their racers didn’t win.    
The Italian Max Biaggi, the current WSB champion. We thought it odd when the Italian fans did not clap at all when he came second. Apparently only first will do !

Leon Haslam, probably our best rider at present. His Dad, Ron was a legend in his day too.

Leon Camier, probably the next best Brit.

Monday 9th
We left the bird song and on a rather cloudy day, set off towards Monaco.  Another of those little places I wanted to see.  We had to stay in a campsite in Nice, France and we took Wallace along the windy road to the Principality.  We had a walk around and ended up outside the Monte Carlo Casino.  Neither Ray or I are gamblers but it had to be done.  We weren’t able to go into the big gambling den, but we could have a look around the magnificent building and play on the slot machines.  It just had to be done, and 20 euro’s lighter we decided to call it quits and get a meal.  We sat in a cafe outside the casino and people watched.  Then we car spotted and tried to guess how many millions each person had in the bank.

Monte Carlo Casino. A British Lambourghini and a Swiss Bugatti Veyron parked outside. The Bugatti is probably the fastest production car in the world.

We found another restaurant to eat at and then drove around some of the circuit for the F1 Grand Prix, again I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and we headed back to the campsite.
A park opposite the Casino.

Ray on Wallace on the track to be used for the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Pricx on 29 May.

Tuesday 10th
We packed up again and after a brief discussion, completely changed our plans again.  The weather is beautiful and we, well I wanted to see St Tropez as we were so close.  What a lovely part of the world, and our campsite is on the beach.  We went into St Tropez and watched the next richest bunch of people in the world, walked around the harbour and drooled over some of the boats. 
St Tropez harbour. Money, Money, Money

But even here, there is the obligatory Irish Pub, so it had to be done and Ray had a Guinness.  I don’t think I could cope with either place for very long, but it has been great experiencing them.
The Irish pub. There were a lot of Harley davidson riders in town - about 4000 actually - they are having a bit of a bash in the next campsite !

Wednesday 11th
Did absolutely nothing today, after the housework, but lay on the beach, reading our books and taking in the rays.  Tomorrow we are heading north again  towards Chamonix on our slow return to Britain.

The beach facing St Tropez Bay. God this retirement is hard work !

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