despite the abovementioned missing men, the
harbor of the Cala di Volpe on our arrival this year was
well populated with large and inviting looking pleasure
crafts with names like Kisses and Bellissima,
Sariya and Santa
Maria, not to mention Big Eagle, as well
as numerous other white-hulled yachts and sailing boats
in size from 120 to 200 feet in length. Each craft of these
sizes represent an investment of millions of dollars to
build and to maintain. Charter fees, which can run into
of thousands on a weekly basis; docking fees which can
run into the tens of thousands, not to mention fuel and
all leaving one astounded and dazzled to the point of make
believe. Someone was telling me, for example, that to dock
a yacht of this size in Monte Carlo during a four-day event
runs about $19,000 for the fee and another ten grand for
the dockmaster (my word for him) and some other ducats
thrown in for a little-a-thissa and a little-a-thatta.
The thrill of
being aboard one of these plush and highly polished vessels is
immeasurable. Although I am often told by those who’ve done
it, that it can be grueling being with the same crowd for more
than a few hours, let alone
a few days. That is not so with the guests on this fancy ocean-going bucket
or ours, most of whom have cruised together on this ship several
times thanks to
our hosts. And thanks to our hosts, the atmosphere is very relaxed. The days
begin with breakfast at whatever time one arises, followed (by some) with exercising
on the exercycle or the treadmill, followed by swimming, or touring the nearby
coves in the tender, or kayaking or wave running on the jet skis; all of which
is followed by the sunbathing, reading, passing conversation.
the harbor of Cala di Volpe
This goes on until lunchtime which comes around two. That is
when everyone is required to be present. Lunch is served buffet
style on the “party deck.” Everyday
it is a variety of salads, cheeses, a soup accompanied by a varying menu of meats,
fish, grains and rices, followed by desserts of freshly made sorbets, gelatos
(coconut is the favorite) and freshly baked cookies – chocolate chip
one day, oatmeal raisin and walnuts the next, etc. I just feel like eating
and eating. Oh, and the wines, if you want them. All finished off by espresso
or cappuccino, if you like.
After that the crew (guests) are often ready for a nap or something comparable
(a snooze). Today I went up to the third deck where there is a Jacuzzi where
you can relax in the sun and watch the nautical world pass by the ancient terra
firma. This is often done with the assistance of binocs since it’s
fun to look at whomever is passing by, noticing the flag, the name and wondering
if it’s an Arab sheik or a Russian or American billionaire or hell, even
a movie star or Ivana Trump who keeps her yacht tied up in
Monte Carlo when she’s not cruising this route on the Mediterranean.
After a day of this, on Tuesday last, we went ashore for cocktails at the home
of the beautiful, Brazilian-born Denise Thyssen, who had a few
friends over for drinks. Valentino and his crew were supposed to show but never
did, although his public relations adviser Jean-Piero was there.
Except for us Americans the rest of the guests were European from Switzerland,
Paris and London. There were several people who are active in the Salzburg Festival
which takes place in a few weeks including Eva O’Neill who
plays a big role in the organization, as well as Herbert von Karajan’s
widow Aliette, and the American Donald Kahn.
Baroness Thyssen’s sprawling, ample and stylish yet simple property overlooks
the sea. Someone told me that in the days before the Aga Khan developed this
part of the world for the rich and the famous, the land was plentiful and thus
given to the local citizens. The men got the “best” land, which was
the hilltops which were good for grazing the animals. And the women, being only
women, were given the land close to the water, I guess so they could go down
to the shore to wash their garments, haha. Of course, Karim Aga Khan’s
plans turned the not-so-good land into the premium land since the yachting
types and their pals wanted property with quick access to the water. Haha again.
hour on the Big Eagle
summer people come in June and leave by September after
which, I am told, the weather cools noticeably and that’s
that until next year. After our cocktails, we returned
to the Big Eagle, with some more guests for dinner
under the crescent moon, surrounded by the darkness and
the glittering yellow lights of neighboring yachts, the
hotel and the villas dotting the darkened hills. By midnight
everyone, sun-drenched, and (at least those among us) still
very excited to be on this short but brilliant voyage,
needed a good night’s rest.
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