Need more royal wedding buzz? Visit Monaco.

monaco harborCome April 30, legions of devoted Royal Wedding Watchers will suffer the disease known as RWW, or Royal Wedding Withdrawal*.

Never fear, RWW sufferers – help has arrived, in the form of one of the world’s richest countries, Monaco. On July 1 2011, the principality will celebrate the nuptials of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II and elegant South African Olympic swimmer Miss Charlene Wittstock. Okay, so it’s not *quite* the same. He’s the son of Grace Kelley and Prince Rainier III, but the once devoted bachelor prince is in his 50s and has two illegitmate children, neither of whom can inherit the title as per Monaco’s inheritance laws. At present, Prince Albert’s sister, Princess Caroline, is the heir presumptive to the title.

Still. It’s a ROYAL. WEDDING.

On July 1, 2011, the civil wedding ceremony will take place in the Throne Room of the Prince’s Palace. Later that evening, a large concert will be offered by the newly-wedded couple at the Port for all residents and visitors. On July 2, 2011, the religious wedding ceremony will take place in the Main Courtyard of the Prince’s Palace.

To be celebrated by Monseigneur Bernard Barsi, Archbishop of Monaco, more than 3,500 invited guests will witness the wedding on giant screens in the vicinity of the Palace and screens will also be set up at prime locations throughout the Principality to enable residents and visitors to watch the proceedings.

The couple will take a special procession route in a Lexus luxury hybrid vehicle, underscoring Prince Albert’s commitment to environmental conservation, to the Church of Sainte Devote where the bride will lay down her bouquet. The official dinner and a gala ball will be held at the Salle Garnier and the Terraces of the Casino later that evening followed by fireworks for all of Monaco to enjoy.

[Flickr via davharuk]Never visited Monaco? Here are a few things to do:

Royal Houses Exhibition at Grimaldi Forum
This summer the Grimaldi Forum will showcase important pieces from four centuries of historic European monarchies with The Magnificence and Grandeur of Royal Houses in Europe exhibition. Open July 11 through September 11, 2011, 600-plus artifacts will provide visitors with a unique glimpse into the imperial homes and lives of Europe’s most powerful and respected leaders and couples.

Musical Legends Headline Sporting Summer Music Festival
This year’s Monte-Carlo Sporting Summer Music Festival, from July 8 through August 27 at Salle des Etoiles, offers, yet again, a list of legendary musicians as key performers. Janet Jackson will open the festival on July 8 and 9, Stevie Wonder will return after his acclaimed performance last year and Sting will perform on July 25.

New National Museum
Monaco’s recently opened Nouveau Musee National de Monaco (NMNM) is located in two venues – the stunning Villa Paloma and Villa Sauber. The newly re-designed venues focus on modern contemporary works of art and will feature two exhibitions annually that will spotlight the cultural, historic and artistic virtues of Monaco.

Spectacular Dining
In addition to the five restaurants that boast a combined eight Michelin stars, fine food connoisseurs will appreciate the Principality’s many new culinary offerings including a transformed Le Vistamar at the Hotel Hermitage, which recently re-opened its doors under the direction of Chef Joel Garault. The Horizon at The Fairmont Monte Carlo has proposed a new menu featuring a “chic and ethical” concept, demonstrating Executive Chef Maryan Gandon’s commitment to sustainable development and the planet. YOSHI at the Metropole Monte-Carlo – Chef Joel Robuchon’s only Japanese inspired eatery – recently received a Michelin star.

Relax and Rejuvenate
Monaco has a distinct advantage: a combination of climate, sunshine and abundant natural resources drawn directly from the Mediterranean Sea. This summer the Monte-Carlo Beach Spa will re-open, highlighting its sleek makeover and unique location, nestled in the pool area overlooking the sea.

Monte-Carlo Casino and Opera House

Among one of the world’s most famous cultural landmarks, the Monte-Carlo Casino and Opera House continues to be a “must-see” attraction in Monaco. Travelers from around the world can try their hand at the Casino’s gaming tables and witness operatic performances in the Salle Garnier, where 45 world premieres have been held and Matisse and Picasso designed sets and costumes in the not-so-distant past.

*This fake disease was made up by the author, whose only claim to medical knowledge is that her father is a doctor.

Luggage: A brief history

Luggage Louis VuittonLuggage, often referred to as “baggage” or “suitcases” is a term coined in 1596, from lug (v.) “to drag;” so, lit. “what has to be lugged about” (or, in Johnson’s definition, “any thing of more bulk than value”). In 20c., the usual word for “baggage belonging to passengers.”

For more than six hundred years, people have used traveling cases, steamer trunks valises, portmanteaus, briefcases, weekenders and the now ubiquitous rolling case to get their goods from point A to point B.

As lover of history, I’ve always been fascinated by luggage – many homes in my native DC have strange small “bedrooms,” (which can’t be referred to as such because they lack windows and closets) that were once housing for the owner’s trunks. I took a steamer trunk to college, only to find that it didn’t even come close to fitting in my shoebox of a dorm room. My greatest desire? A vintage Louis Vuitton case – and an appropriate wardrobe (and private jet ) to carry it.

So for this edition of “The Way We Traveled,” check out this brief timeline of luggage factoids:

1153 – The first wheeled luggage appears in Palestine and was used to carry weaponry and equipment.

1851 – Queen Victoria awards Prince Albert three gold medals for his Travelling Carry-All Omni-Conveyance, Bewheele.

1854 – Louis Vuitton as we know it was born, initially specializing in luggage.

1910 – Samsonite launches.

1970 – Briggs & Riley introduces modern “wheeled” luggage, offering four wheels and a rope tow.

1972 – U.S. Luggage patents wheeled luggage.

1989 – A Northwest Airlines pilot becomes the first person to carry wheeled luggage

1994 – Don Ku was granted a patent for wheeled suitcase with a collapsible towing handle.

2006 – A ban on liquids over 3 oz. in carry-on luggage is announced.

Late 2000s – Airlines begin charging bag fees for checked luggage on domestic flights.

2013 – The date when the proposed ban on liquids in carry on luggage will be reversed in the EU.

*This article was updated to reflect additional information about wheeled luggage on March 2, 2011.

Five reasons to visit Monaco next year

Surrounded by France, except for a stretch along the Mediterranean, Monaco is a destination for the wealthy, as well as those with a penchant for auto racing or roulette. The only other ostensible reason to visit this tiny principality is curiosity — especially for Americans, it’s hard to believe that a plot of land that small could actually be its own country! Well, good things tend to come in small packages, and Monaco is no different. Monaco stands on its own, warranting a visit that’s more than an add-on to a vacation in France.

Need a reason? I have five for you, all at least a tad off-beat.

1. You can walk the entire country end-to-end
So, it’s not a journey worthy of a Jules Verne story, or for that matter, Michael Palin. But, it’s still pretty cool to brag that you’ve walked an entire country … in only one day. Monaco is only 0.76 square miles, so you’ll even be able to stop for lunch and a spin of the wheel at Casino de Monte-Carlo.

2. The Prince is everywhere
Every business establishment has a portrait of the country’s ruler, Prince Albert II, displayed prominently. It’s like experiencing a touch of North Korea in Europe: creepy but not scary.

3. The changing of the guard is … ummmm … unique
I had visions of Arlington National Cemetery while waiting for the changing of the guard in Monaco: proud, disciplined, military personnel flawlessly executing tightly scripted movements. Nope. Some were a tad tubby to bee soldiers. A few had trouble staying in step. Rifles were propped at varying angles, though fortunately all on right shoulders. It was comical. I offered to help, but Prince A. still hasn’t responded to my open letter.

4. You could be set for life
There’s always a shot that you could find fortune at the casinos. Win big, and you won’t have to worry about working again (hey, stretch out that vacation a bit!). Since the house always wins in the end, you’ll probably want to have a backup plan. I suggest love. Try to score a future as a mistress or boy-toy: Monaco is committed to equal opportunity. The hours are great, as is the compensation. But, the work can suck from time to time.

5. Nerds are welcomed desired
Actuaries and risk geeks should hit Monaco during the annual Rendez-Vous conference for the reinsurance industry. Even if you aren’t part of the official festivities, this event is one of the country’s biggest draws, beat only by the Grand Prix in terms of cash brought in. Everyone loves the risk crowd, so drop your slide rule, and get busy!

Oh, and you can do all the usual stuff, too. Tour the palace, hit the beach and try to sneak onto a rich guy’s yacht — it’s all in good fun. Just make sure you can outrun the local army if you try this last one. It’s not hard, though, and you’re never more than a few miles from the border.

[Photo by Salvatore.Freni via Flickr]

New York for sale, $35 million

It’s not as cheap as seashells, but New York is on the block for a new low price! Put up $35 million (though I’m sure there’s room to negotiate), and you could own the city free and clear. You can start smoking indoors and decide whether alternate side parking should have a future. And, snow removal will never be a concern again!

Did I mention this is New York, Dubai?

A group of 300 manmade islands has been based on real locations around the world. Grouped together, they form a living map off the coast of Dubai, inviting the wealthy to claim their territory. So far, the likes of David Beckham, Angelina Jolie (and Brad Pitt) and Rod Stewart have expressed interest. So has Michael Jackson, but I don’t think he realizes that he can’t actually set up his own laws there. Prince Albert of Monaco is said to be interested, possibly because buying one of these islands would triple the size of his country. Click to get a sense of who’s already spent some cash.

The $10 billion project began in 2003 by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum along with Nakheel, one of the biggest real estate developers in the world. Their new “map” was completed two weeks ago. Already, Ireland, Shanghai, France and Siberia have been purchased. Along with New York, Chad, Mongolia and Saudi Arabia are open … but only if you have $20 million on hand.

Sorry Dubai, the money’s in my other coat. Maybe next time.

[Via NY Post]

[Thanks, Ron @ De La Concha, for the tip]

[Photo by Brian Sayler]