A dream trip to Monte Carlo (circa’75)
“Rawhn, our Acro-Dancers are going to be in the Princess Grace Red Cross Gala. I want you to be there. You can take Orllyene,” Mr. Rudas says.
Rudas is my long time boss.
Sometimes he is fearfully demanding; other times, astonishingly generous.
“Where’s the show going to be Tibi? I ask, using the Hungarian familiar form of his name.
“Monte Carlo. Lee is coming and we’re bringing Kim and Dean. (their two young children),” he said.
Imagine, Orllyene and Ron rumbling around with the jet set.
This is one of those times when it pays to be a choreographer.
We arrive at the front desk of the beachfront, Monte Carlo Holiday Inn.
The clerk said, “Mr. Rudas feels it’s better for you, and him to switch reservations. You are to be at the Hermitage Hotel, and he and his family will stay here. The children will then be able to play on the beach.”
This is like being told you’ve been upgraded from a Pinto to a Cadillac at the car rental counter.
The Hermitage Hotel is strikingly elegant.
This is where the rich and famous stay.
The lobby is lavishly appointed in crystal chandeliers, ornate gilded mirrors, and heavy furniture pieces.
This is where Nijinsky stayed when Diaghilev rocked Europe with his Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the early 1900s.
We’re shown to our room.
It has a 12-foot ceiling, pale blue wallpaper, antique furniture and a heavy porcelain bathtub.
“Sweetheart, this is going to be very easy to get used to,” I confide to Orllyene.
Tickets for the Princess Grace Gala cost thousands of dollars, and raises money for charity.
This is the event of the season; tuxedos, evening gowns, jewels, the works.
Every big name in show business is here.
The reason the Acro Dancers are in the show is simple.
They add razzmatazz and excitement to any show they’re in.
Nature and luxury blend like butter and sugar in Monte Carlo.
The sea is deep blue, the harbor a whimsical combination of cruiser size yachts and sassy skiffs.
The weather is Santa Monica at its best.
Palm trees, feathery pines, bright splotches of flowers are everywhere.
Hills roll down to the waters edge, leaving only a narrow margin of land.
Roads zig-zag up the slopes, lined with Romanesque villas and sleek condos.
Hidden walkways and tiny pocket parks are reminders of the days when carriages, nannies, and footmen were in vogue.
One day, Orllyene and I go for a stroll in the shopping district. Gucci, Chanel and Dior items are shamelessly priced.
Curbside, Rolls-Royce’s, Jags, and Ferraris park bumper to bumper, with only an occasional lowly Cadillac.
For lunch, we go to an open air café overlooking the harbor.
“Sweetheart, is that Ray Miland sitting at that table over there reading a newspaper?” Orllyene asks.
I glance over and sure enough, it’s the movie star himself.
Here we are. Having lunch with Ray Miland in Monte Carlo.
One evening, we visit the casino.
Everyone is dressed to the hilt. Tuxedoed croupiers, soft lighting, and you don’t get in without the price of admission.
The clientele reminds me of a scene from a PBS show.
Since we’re not big gamblers (living in Las Vegas, we learned our lesson early) we slip next door to a jewel-like, miniature opera house.
The gilded boxes, and galleries are straight out of “The Red Shoes.”
On stage, heel stomping, castanet clicking Spanish dancers go through their paces. What a night.
With the charity show behind us, Lee said, “Tibi, I’d like to take Ron and Orllyene to dinner up on the mountain.”
Tibi is the artistic genius and financial brains of his production company. Lee is the heart.
The first evening we go to a café tucked into the mountainside.
With just a few tables, and candlelight, it’s more like a cavern than café.
The menu is strictly Mediterranean, and the food earthy, homemade and delicious.
The next night, Lee guides us to an avant-garde place with a Provence menu.
The tables are terraced, each having a breathtaking view of the coastline, Monaco and Monte Carlo far below.
“Orllyene, follow me,” Lee said.
The two ladies walk over to a large aquarium.
The waiter joins them. Moments later they select an unsuspecting lobster which will soon appear on their dinner plates.
From appetizer, to entrée, salad, raspberry torte and espresso in a porcelain cup, dinner is spectacular.
Sometimes kind and generous people come into our lives.
So it’s a very good idea to keep your suitcase handy, just in case.
Ron Walker lives in Smith Valley. He can be reached at email@example.com.