My trip to the International TV Festival of Monte Carlo has come and gone. The six days I spent away from my two little ones was full of international publicity, an awesome half-day at the beach, a day trip to the medieval city of Eze, and a lot of dressing up and looking fancy, something that I don’t tend to excel in without a LOT of help and support.
Monte Carlo is a beautiful seaside port city, but what I will say stands out about it is that it was extremely expensive. It’s kind of a town built for high-rollers, and I don’t just mean the gambling type. Everything is expensive from the bottles of water ($8 for 8 oz anyone!?) to the kind of shops. The stores lining the streets are mostly Rodeo Drive-type prices and clientele. I cannot emphasize enough how expensive everything was. And I know I’m super frugal, but even the more spendthrift of my friends would be astonished by how much money you need to have to simply eat three meals a day (and a snack) and buy a trinket or two for your mom.
With all due respect to Monaco (and the Prince–who I got to shake hands with!), I could imagine going to a lot of other places many times before I would feel a desire to return to Monte Carlo. I would go to Israel and sit on the beach in Tel Aviv every summer if I could, for example, and I would return to the streets of Jerusalem again and again year in and year out (and God willing I will). Israel never gets old. Monte Carlo on the other hand, is varying shades of same: yachts, tanned wealthy skinny people, and tons and tons of butter and cheese in everything that makes vegans seriously wonder if this is the trip they are going to starve to death on.
One day when I walked out the back entrance of our hotel (the paparazzi routinely stationed themselves outside of the front door so I learned to be clever about exiting when not “camera ready”), I looked up and saw a giant white villa with a large gold Magen David (Jewish star) on it. It felt like a sign of support! In French, the sign said “Synagogue.” I wanted to cry. The Jews were there, and I was there, too, impossibly, it might seem: three of my four grandparents were immigrants to the US and here I am standing on the streets of Monte Carlo just 60 years after the Holocaust. And I’m not alone.
Turned out the building was functional, albeit only on Friday nights and Saturday mornings for services, and I was flying home Friday morning. It seems about 1,000 Jews live in Monte Carlo, many ex-pat Brits who have retired to the shores of Monaco for a life in the sun. So bizarre and so cool.
Coming Home and Leaving Again
Coming home to my boys was very emotional, and they articulated missing me much more than I thought they would. Fred nursed pretty soon after I got home, if briefly, and both boys were glued to me pretty much all weekend. Our family is in New York this week for two talks I am giving: one at The Jewish Center in Manhattan Tuesday night (sold out!) and the other in West Hartford, Connecticut for the Hebrew High School of New England. It’s hectic to only be home two days before packing up again, but I’m glad we are all on this trip together.
And after a week of surviving mostly on bread, olive tapenade, French fries, and alcohol as my calorie intake (oh, to be vegan in France), I look forward to eating as much awesome vegan food in New York as possible (Café Blossom, see you soon!).
Bon voyage wherever your travels take you, and if you ever make it to Monte Carlo, visit the Synagogue and let them know that a certain American actress took great comfort in knowing that as I maneuvered among the wealthy and the impossibly thin and the manicured and beautiful, I stood out, but knew that I was not alone.