FLASHBACK: MIDNIGHT SAILING FROM MONTE CARLO

Getting in the sailing mood...

Getting in the sailing mood…

It was one of those nights you never forget; a sensuous, sultry late spring evening in the south of France. I had just arrived after a testy, two hour flight, and yet I already felt as if I were a million miles from reality.

After the chaos and angst of leaving Nice Airport, it was a short, pain free train journey along the coast to Monaco.The setting sun glimmered on the bays and yacht havens of the Cote D’Azur as we trundled past.  As always in Monte Carlo, catching a taxi from the station was an art form; one I had yet to master. But it wasn’t so far to walk; not with wheeled luggage, anyway. And the knowledge that an old friend was waiting down in the harbour made me grin like an idiot.

All that already seems like a distant dream, something from another place and time, as I stand on the upper decks of the Silver Wind and gaze out at the backlit mass of Monte Carlo. Boarding the ship again was like walking into an oasis of calm, cool gentility. Balm for the soul. Hand luggage taken, champagne offered. Gratefully accepted. Better already.

There was time for a quick dinner in the suite, with the balcony door left open, and the warm evening air carrying over the smell of hibiscus and jasmine from somewhere not far away.  In the background, Michael Buble’s rich, wonderful voice fills the ether like a subtle, slowly gathering storm. Shower. Change of clothes. The whole world takes on a different, kinder stance.

Midnight lights of Monte Carlo

Midnight lights of Monte Carlo

Now it’s close to midnight, and all the passengers are up on the decks around the main pool in anticipation of our leave taking. Stewards circulate with deft, unobtrusive grace, delivering champagne, cocktails and canapes to passengers who last ate all of an hour ago.

There’s a subtle, wonderful buzz as people meet for the first time. And there’s more than the odd happy reunion, too. One of the great things about cruising on something as highly styled as Silversea is the small number of people that the ship carries. It becomes like a little, private club; one where members might go two or three years without seeing each other. Yet, when they do, the friendships just take up again exactly where they last left off. I never cease to wonder at it.

And oh, my word, we are off…..

Subtly, unobtrusively, the Silver Wind steals effortlessly out, into the ink black bay of Monaco, threading her way through a flock of tethered, brilliantly lit yachts with a sure, easy grace. From a small balcony just above the pool, a solitary saxophone player floods the air with deep, rich soul. On one of the yachts, I can see a couple in bathrobes, tapping their fingers to the sound.

And the champagne comes around again. It would be rude to say no; because if ever there truly was a moment worthy of the good stuff, then this is it.

And we're off.....

And we’re off…..

I muse idly that our ship must look beautiful from the shore at this moment; as proud and perfectly graceful as a swan, wrapped in the brilliant plumage of her own lights and music. A small fantasy island, heading out into the darkened Mediterranean, trailing soft, sultry music behind her like a fabulous perfume.

It’s spring in the south of France, the living is easy, and another amazing Silversea adventure is under way. Let’s see what’s out there…..

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