Tuesday, 13th November 2007 – Macau, Day 3
After a bit of a lie in (we took a sleeping pill each and didn’t wake up till after 10 – the second night of the trip is always the one where the time difference does your brain in, we find), we got up eventually, got ourselves together enough to go out. The plan was to meet Glyn, who’d been texting us from quite early and wondering why he didn’t get any answers, at the paddock and then wander over to look at the latest wonder of Macau, the massive shiny new Venetian, which only opened a couple of months back.
As it turned out, however, the best laid plans and all that… Getting up late meant a shift to Plan B, so met Glyn for lunch at the Pousada’s splendid restaurant, where they were having a Pacific food promotion week.
This meant a chef specially flown in from New Zealand to teach the students. The mussels were amazing, and the salad bar too good to describe. We drank a bottle of Vinho Verde, and eventually, after deciding we couldn’t eat any more, we made our way to the paddock to collect our accreditation, reserve a desk, a locker and a four-bar adaptor, and then have a bit of a wander before getting the shuttle bus to the Venetian.
We ended up spending a couple of hours in the pit lane, chatting first to James Jakes and Nico Hülkenberg about the track – James knew the place, Nico didn’t but they both declared it impressive – and then at great length to Oliver Jarvis about Japan, teeth (his very swollen face bearing testimony to the wisdom tooth extraction he’d undergone that had taken hours – the tooth came out in bits, with part of the root having hooked round his jaw, and the dentist couldn’t give him any more anaesthetic before the job was completed) and all sorts of other nonsense. Anthony “Boyo” Hieatt wandered over but went away again when he realized what we were talking about. He’s already been emailed the gory details and he’s more than a bit squeamish. We stopped off at Carlin to talk to Sam Bird, Niall Breen and Brendon Hartley (very geeky looking kid, far too tall to be a racing driver), the on to Raikkonen Robertson Racing for a catch up with Bruno Senna (who is as lovely and daft as ever), and to let Stephen Jelley know we’d book a table for dinner with him and his parents the following day. His dad had said he thought Stephen might not be able to make it because of the drivers’ briefing at 19.00 that day, but Stephen thought otherwise.
Anyway, the upshot of all this pointless hanging around gossiping about nothing in particular was that it was 4.30 and too late to go the Venetian if we were going to get changed and dressed for dinner that evening. We opted to get a cab back to the hotel instead, which was when we discovered that in the last 12 months the traffic congestion (and pollution) has increased exponentially, and that you could get a cab, it just wasn’t going anywhere in much of a hurry. Apart from late at night the 11 MOP cab fare is no longer likely – or indeed physically possible. We got ready early and picked Glyn up from the Rio before going on to the Venetian for a wander about, and a boggle at the canal on the second floor and the singing gondoliers, and the sheer expensive tackiness of it all.
That said, apparently it has 3000 suites (no mere rooms here) and with two weeks of opening 1,000,000 people had been through the doors. It’s amazingly huge, though God knows where all those people are coming from (well, mainland China, but even so).
Having managed to unlose ourselves without tying a ball of string to the door we came in at, we stopped off at the Bar Florian in the centre of the gaming area, where we drank cheap but good cocktails, then retreated out of the front door to find a cab over to Coloane island and dinner at the splendid Espaco Lisboa on Coloane. We sat on the tiny balcony at one of the handful of tables out there, and were entertained by the passers-by below and the traffic incident that broke out when some idiot parked on the roundabout in the centre of the village and blocked it, and both the salt cod croquettes and the bacalhau com natas (more salt cod, this time baked in a cream sauce) were superb and we drank and relaxed till late before getting a cab back to the mainland bit of Macau.