26 February 2007

Hi-jinks and adventures ashore-Foreign style Part Duex



So the second day of liberty in the wonderful city of Cannes comes along. This time though the launches start moving around at 10am. So myself and a two good buddies all decide to go grab some brunch in town and walk around take in the sites. We had heard that there is a tour boat which for about 15 francs one could take and go visit the island that Alexander Dumas wrote his classic story "The Count of Monte Cristo" about. Then somewhere else in town was the hotel that Mr. Dumas stayed while writing a couple more of his books. We discussed trying to get all of this in as we rode the liberty launch into town.
It was still pretty early in the morning by the time we put feet down on the solid ground again. We stopped over at the little food tent that the mess cooks had set up, grab a bottle of water between the two of us and grab some fresh fruit. Walked out the security compound and headed into town. Because it was a typical summer day in the south of France we decided to find an open air restaurant to grab a bite to eat at.
Walking along the main street at the water front, we just taking it all in. I happen across a simple convenience store and stopped in real quick to grab a pack of chewing gum and grab see if I could grab the a newspaper that was written in English. I had known that in a variety of places the "Times of London" and the "New York Times" were sold overseas. I got lucky and had actually found a copy of both the "New York Times" and the "Times of London" at this convenience store along with a pack of gum. After walking out of there we found the little restaurant to grab brunch at. It was primarily outside and gave a pretty good view of the harbor and the beaches.
We sat down and ordered up some grub, both of my friends are devouring the sports page from the NYT because they are baseball nuts. I was sitting there reading the sports page from the "Times of London" when I came across a section talking about the starting grid for the Monaco Grand Prix. After skimming the grid and then reading a couple of article about the race for that weekend, I realized that I wanted to go. Over lunch I finally conned both of my buddies into wanting to go. I used the classic, "Since we are already this close...." and "May not get another chance on the government dime...." debates. After about 2 hours of talking, I finally won them over.
So after seeing a few of the sights we wanted to in town, we walked around and found a European version of Ticketmaster and tried to get tickets for the race, only to find out that they had sold out weeks ago. Then all of us did the collective thought at the same second and shouted "MWR! They got to have bought some tickets". So we went back to fleet landing and just happen to run across the Fun Boss. The Fun Boss is a civilian who is brought on board a ship to help organize tours, trips, and other fun things to keep sailors entertained while out to sea. So we cornered the Fun Boss and asked what if they had scored or could score us some tickets to the race. The Fun Boss answered up that nope, there was to be no tickets for USS Oldboat to send anyone to the race. All of us were pretty well bummed out.
We started to walk away from Fleet Landing, looking for someplace to go and drown our sorrows. As we walked along the harbor front again, we noticed that a number of the shops that were opened were starting to bring everything inside. A couple comments about that and wondering why, when my friend Jason looked at his watched.
"Well guys it is only 1730. Lets go and find some nice restaurant that is squid free or close to squid free.", he said.
All of us agreed. So we staggered back down around the harbor front and at a turn we walked up an alleyway. Found just a few streets back a nice little restaurant that again had a nice view of the harbor, a nice jazz band playing, and outdoor seating. We sat around talking about how bummed we were about not going to race and what we were all going to do the next day. All of us were lucky in that we didn't draw duty until the final day in port.
The more we talked about how cool it would of been to seen a race, the more we got annoyed. That was until a gentleman a couple tables across from us got up and walked over. He came over and said that he couldn't help but overheard our conversation. He then mentioned that he was a member of the garage crew for BMW.
He invited us to join him and a couple other members of his crew at a few tables over from ours. We had already eaten and were just enjoying some beers, so we picked up and sat in. Greetings and intros all the way around, he introduced himself as Steve. He was an ex-pat American, was in the US Army as a tanker stationed with a unit in Germany. He got out after Desert Storm and pinged around in the European racing circuits. Finally got picked up by BMW just as they were starting their Formula 1 racing career. He did the basic garage things to a car or to tweak an engine or body before it goes on a practice run or the night before the big race. He then mentioned that he could get us pit passes if we wanted them. All he wanted was a Zippo and a command ballcap from USS Oldboat. It seemed that his father was on Oldboat when she was younger and he just wanted some memorabilia. We said deal and agreed on where to meet him over at Monaco, he then said nuts to that and told us to give him a call and he would send a company car to pick us up.
The next with our gear in tow, we made the phone call and had a chance to be behind pit row watching the Monaco Grand Prix. It was awesome and the only thing that I wish I had remember to have done was brought my camera to have gotten some photos. After the race all 3 of us went off with Steve and his crew to a nice restaurant in a casino and enjoy dinner on the companies dime. Even though all of the teams cars did not finish the race, it was still cool to be there and watch the race.




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