By Craig Gabriel in Roquebrune Cap Martin
Monaco is a playground for the rich and famous. In order to emphasize that point the harbour has some very fine boats moored to prove it. Some of them could be the size of small ocean liners with their sleek lines. A few have their own helicopter pads on the deck, like a ship called the Lady Morua (owned by a Saudi businessman) which is etched in 24kt gold. The Aga Khan even has a yacht docked here pretty much permanently.
However, one yacht really caught the eye. For a few days it was anchored in the bay and then docked in the harbour. It was huge and talk about sleek, wow! This thing was as stylish as they came. The hull was black with three very tall aluminum masts. You couldn’t help notice it from the hotel and the Monte Carlo Country Club, even in the middle of a big bay.
On doing a bit of detective work it was discovered the vessel is called The Maltese Falcon. It was built by Perini Navi and is 289-ft. long – it’s one of the longest sailing ships in the world.
Perhaps the yacht received its name for the innovative three self-standing and rotating masts that features 15 sails - known as the Falcon Rig. The yachts maximum speed is 18 knots and at a speed of 14 knots can travel 3,000 nautical miles.
It was sold in 2009 for 60-million Euros and is believed to be worth 99-million Euros. It is owned by a Greek woman, Eleni Ambrosiadou, founder of IKOS Asset Management, based in London. The yacht can be chartered and has been auctioned for a two-week period on the 10th anniversary of the ARK charity -- Absolute Return for Kids -- of which Ms. Ambrosiadou is a patron. The auction price was a cool $144,890 USD.
Ah, what I would’ve done to be a guest on the yacht. If only Ms. Ambrosiadou knew I was in town. Hmmm - now that I think of it I guess I could’ve swam out there from the hotel beach and invited myself to the viewing. There’s always next time.
By Sandra Harwitt in Roquebrune Cap Martin
Technically speaking, the Davis Cup tie between France and the USA is being played in France - Roquebrune Cap Martin. That’s the actual location for the Monte Carlo Country Club. However, in these parts it’s pretty impossible to tell when you’re next door in Monaco and when you’re in France. For instance, our hotel is not even a 10-minute walk away from the tennis but it’s situated in Monaco. The one thing you know for sure is everything seems to border the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, which around here means frequent glimpses of luxury yachts as well as cruise ships docking.
Considering the close proximity to Monaco, it came as no surprise that one of the most prominent tennis fans in the area decided to show up for the opening day of tennis. That would be his Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, whose castle is just up the mountain road.
He took pictures with some of the players and then took a seat in the stadium to watch.
“Yeah, I saw him,” said Tsonga, of the Prince.
Did they have any kind of chat? “No, we just had our picture taken.”
One has to wonder if the Prince secretly was picking any sides in this contest between France and the United States.
His mother, the late Grace Kelly, was a prominent American actress before she married his father, the late Prince Ranier. In fact, Prince Albert and his bride, Princess Charlene, a native of South Africa, attended this year’s Academy Award ceremonies in honor of his mother’s memory. So there’s the American connection, not to mention the Prince was educated at Amherst University in Massachusetts.
Now, the House of Grimaldi originally hails from the other country next door – Genoa, Italy precisely. A little mixing of countries via marriage brought France into the picture in the 1730s when the French House of Goyon de Matignon, genealogically speaking, came to the throne. That happened when Louise-Hippolyte Grimaldi turned over the reign to her husband, James de Goyon de Matignon. So there’s the French connection as well as the non-applicable Italian connection.
Presumably, in an effort to be politically correct, when meeting players from both teams the Prince just offered an appropriate “Good Luck” to the Americans and a “Bonne Chance” to the French.
Fred and Ginger in Prague
There are those who say that the most graceful of tennis players can often look like they’re waltzing on court.
This weekend some of those dancing tennis feet are in action in Prague, Czech Republic, where a Czech team is taking on the Serbian squad in the Davis Cup quarterfinal.
But the Davis Cup players aren’t what people in Prague think about when they think dancing. Residents and tourists alike, think about “The Dancing Building” in New Town Prague. The creation, built between 1992-1996 was the creation of famed architect Frank Gehry and Vladimir Mulinic.
Gehry is known for his unorthodox designs, unique usage of material, and is considered one of the most controversial architects. “The Dancing Building” doesn’t disappoint in that regard. It shows one section of the building leaning into the other section of the building, which conjures up the image of a dancing couple. The structure comes with the ideal nickname of “Fred and Ginger” as in the great dancing duo of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Other Gehry designs of note: The Disney Concert Hall and The Guggenheim Bilboa.