After only 6 hours (over two day researching) I found the almost perfect solution via Geneva and onto Nice. Monsieur John was not impressed. "Why spend more time away when we need only one night", was the question posed. My retort was simple and curt, "trust me!"
A few days later, with our hand luggage and plethora of reserve and emergency components, we began our intrepid journey to the land of luxury via Luton airport. Following a short fuel stop at Pret' we were soon en route, whizzing our way to Geneva on the red eye flight. On time we landed and disembarked without a hitch. Soon we were in the arrivals area and it was my honour to introduce Monsieur John to the pleasure that is Martel. Those fabulous petite sandwich au thon, poulet et fromage. But, alas, Monsieur John was having none of it. At approximately 09:30 in the morning his mandatory travel diet demanded a rich chocolate eclair - bon chance!
We were soon on the express train taking us from the airport to Cornavin, the main station in Geneva and just a few minutes walk from my cousins apartment. As we alighted, carrying our precious Esprit de Vitesse Razor cargo, I noticed a more than usually busy station and then I thought, we had walked into the set of the latest Star Wars film, seeing replicas of Darth Vadar all about us. But the worldly Monsieur John knew better. Hmm, said he guess there must be a football match today. He was, of course, absolutely correct. We had arrived in Geneva, not only on cup final day, but as we were to discover very soon, Ascension Day, meaning all the shops were closed. This we found out as my cousins lovely wife text me requesting we bring some bread home with us. Thus we had to take care to avoid both the trams and the fans.
We arrived safely at the apartment, made the various introductions and presented the meager bread I had purchased. Once our luggage was dropped we turned to the task of a photo shoot opportunity on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). I confess to knowing Geneva quite well so I was promoted to tour guide thus we wandered down from the apartment past the Mandarin Oriental hotel and toward the lake eventually ending up on Bains des Paquis for what turned out to be an interesting photo shoot and afternoon.
Once we had explored our new little environment we decided to shoot still and moving images at the far end of the Jetee de Paquis close to the light house. We began on the rocks taking preparatory shots when a father of a young family enquired as to our purpose. I naturally tried to retort in my basic french to which he replied, "you're not from Watford are you?" After managing to control our laughter we agreed to let the father have pictures of our fabulous Esprit de Vitesse Razor, to which he promptly handed me his camera and continued eating.
You will of course see the results of our effort at Bains des Paquis, and like it or not we were happy with the results save for one major omission, of which the more travelled amongst you will have already pondered. We were missing the obvious. No picture of le Jet d'Eau, the fountain, Geneva's most famous landmark. But naturally, on the day we arrived it was turned off. We consoled ourselves with a pleasant lunch where we were located enjoying a tasty Greek Salad and Plat du Jour, in the middle of a lake.
Later we pressed on around to the other side of the lake for additional photos from the lower shore line and by sneaking onto a private jetty some shots using the ferry boat as a back drop. Naturally I paid for my nefarious activity by receiving a nose burning headache inducing sun burn. Unlike my fellow protagonist I had not protected myself and was now suffering as we slowly made our way back to the apartment for what was to be a delicious dinner of merguez (a spicy mutton sausage typically served in North Africa) and salads. Monsieur John looked a little unsure of this savoury dish, but one bite and he was convinced.
Following this delicious repast and a pleasant chat with my dear cousin we departed to our individual sleeping places for our sumptuous 4.5 hour sleep, waking again at 04:00 in time to get to the airport for the early flight. Efficiently we completed the human tasks before departing for the airport via the train station. Here I made a little faux pas, leading us to transit Swiss customs and security before they sent us back to exit via French security and customs. However unaffected by this we had time to enjoy a coffee and croissant before boarding the flight to our final destination. This was a short flight, over very quickly.
From Nice airport we took a taxi to Gare Nice Ville, where we took time to enjoy un jus d'orange frais and croissant (well he had a chocolate eclair of course). Being prebooked we collected our train tickets and within 25 minutes had passed through Eze, Beaulieu and Villefranche to arrive in Monte Carlo station, a truly modern elegant station with a rabbit warren of tunnels leading all over the city. Being brave and considering the confusion that leads up to the Monaco Grand Prix we opted to walk from the upper exit that overlooks Port Hercule to our first destination which was Place du Casino. Once there we easily located our first appointment, being located in the beautiful temporary structures now based in the centre of Parc Place du Casino. The staff at Czarina then pointed us in the direction of their new shop located on Avenue Princess Grace, where we were to meet the lovely Tamar and present our unique products and services.
After spending our time with our potential new agent we adjourned in the direction of Le Meridien Beach Plaza, the event home of Amber Lounge. Following a 20 minute walk we arrived and entered this exciting location. I moved towards the desk and was immediately asked if there to collect tickets. I replied positively and gave both my name and that of my esteemed colleague. Blank faces looked back at us. It was then I suggested the tickets may be reserved under the name of JP Razors. Suddenly faces lit up with welcoming smiles. Ah, JP Rasoir, ils sont arrives.
A small dance of gratitude and platitudes ensued whilst we were introduced to various members of the staff and shown around the place, given a secure place to store our possessions. Very cool thought I, and at that moment a nasty realisation occurred to me as my face glowed red (even more) as I realised I had ripped the entire width of my linen trousers. This issue resolved we went to position and install the Esprit de Vitesse razor into its allotted place within the auction.
A swift tactical manoeuvre ensued whereby I was able to acquire three safety pins and make an immediate but temporary repair. The harmonious balance of life restored we departed for a little light lunch. Unsure of where to eat we did as any self respecting Englishman would, we went to the nearest Irish Pub, McCarthy's, where Monsieur John contacted his good friend Mr Paul Oz, yes that Paul Oz, joining us for a light lunch of pizza, hamburger and chips, all of which I must say was jolly delicious.
We slowly meandered down toward Port Hercule in the direction of the floating Red Bull Energy Station. To my utter amazement Monsieur John made a few well placed calls and voila we were guests of Red Bull, rubbing shoulders with Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and the all powerful Christian Horner. It was at this time our Twitter friend known as ETC found us, introduced himself and joined us for a while, regaling us with stories of how he became associated with the team. Paul soon departed to prepare for what was to be a long day for him, and soon after we did likewise. Although we struggled to find transport to get us back to Amber Lounge we eventually arrived in time to deposit the Razor in pride of place, but sadly to find our mirror laid out on a table and not as agreed hanging on the wall.
Once changed into our glad rags and looking more respectable we started to mingle and meet other guests including Mr wonderful, who had supplied us with the diamond lacquer dust, so precious it is only used by the world's most exclusive car maker (and us). Following a few polite conversations and some filming of our gorgeous Esprit de Vitesse we were ushered to our seats around the pool to enjoy the fashion show first, followed by the live auction. Both were enjoyable experiences, particularly the elegant models almost wearing bathing suits. After a short intermission we were led to our allotted dining table, sharing with five other guests. Two were French ladies from Paris, upset that no-one else was from Paris and that no-one involved in the classic art market they soon disappeared, and yes we did eat their food and it was even more delicious than our own.
Naturally Monsieur John, Paul Oz and I shared it with our other table guests, who, as it turned out all worked for the gentleman at the table. Listening to his stories I began to detect the faint odour of m-de-t. Not knowing Paul Oz too well I was happy to spend a very pleasant time in his company. After desert we adjourned to the night club and our allotted settees supplied with copious amounts of champagne for the remainder of the evening. Naturally from this point onward the evening degenerated into a very cool wild party for which I am a liberty to disclose no more.
At around 3 am we decided it was time to take a late night/early morning stroll around the port. En route we met a young lady who virtually demanded our Amber Lounge passes, for which we naturally politely declined. Wandering around on such a pleasant and balmy night reminded me why I like this place so much. Viewing the super duper yachts paid for by someone's tax effective planning, and wow, they really are super.
Returning to the party a little later it was soon time to make the calm journey by taxi up to the station to catch the early train to Nice. This is when it started. "Please Monsieur le Concierge, can we have a taxi for the station?". Mais oui monsieur, it will be here in three hours, perhaps Monsieur would care to walk?". Suffering from sciatica the entire time and already having been awake for 24 hours I did relish the thought of walking to the station, let alone the thought of missing the train and perhaps the knock-on effect of missing the plane. We arrived at the station about 3 minutes after the departure of our train. On the positive side we got to speak and sit with a very attractive lady from Hong Kong, who then assured us that we would be better off getting off the train at the station past Nice Ville as it was next to the airport.
Having taken her advice, against my better judgement, as we were now running late, we alighted the train and followed the crowd towards the station. as we got near the perimeter of the airport we saw that the signs had led us to an area enclosed with a wire fence. Therefore escape from stalag 13 ensued with people of all ages and shapes traversing a gap created in the security fence. Finally we crossed the main road and entered the terminal. Here we were told it was the wrong terminal. Time was getting dangerously short as we exited the building to see the transit bus leaving the stop.
Monsieur John, without care for life or limb, stepped into the path of the oncoming bus and instructed the driver to stop and allow us to board which she promptly did. Our happiness at progressing was short lived as we realised the bus was stopping numerous times en route to terminal 2. Eventually we arrived, through security and rushing towards embarkation and the staff saying we were too late, but my persistent friend performed yet more magic and soon we were sitting in our seats, albeit a little flustered, in the aeronautical direction of Switzerland.
Arriving in Geneva, for me at least, was the same as arriving home. We were soon back in Martel for what had become our ceremonial snackette before boarding the train for the short journey into town and on to my cousins apartment. Once calmly ensconced there we opted not to relax and sleep but to have a guided tour led by my cousin. This was interesting and refreshing as you will see this time the Jet d'Eau was fully functioning, and how. We even paid an up close visit to see its remorseless power.
A little while later Monsieur John eyes lit up as we entered a favourite Lebanese Shawarma restaurant, which had doubled in size since my last visit, but lost none of the taste of its delicious meats and savouries. Both thoroughly fed and watered we were whisked to the airport ready for the final leg of our journey back to good old Blighty. Being blessed with offspring Monsieur John departed Switzerland having acquired most of the county's national reserve of chocolate.