Ferraris, Yachts, Nouveau Riche and an Aquarium
Monaco Travel Blog› entry 35 of 44 › view all entries
July 14th, 2008 – by: kat_mac27
Backing up a bit, we took the train along the cote d'Azur, past idyllic little seaside towns, and found ourselves in the giant underground gare Monaco. It's basically a big tunnel, at one end is Monaco and the other is Monte Carlo. We emerged onto busy little streets and immediately hit a souvenir market. Katrin and her mum Sharon are a bit obsessed with souvenirs, they have already filled an extra suitcase! I bought my dad a Monaco F1 shirt but couldn't find anything for mother dearest (she is very anti-tackysouvenirgifts).
Hopping on a random bus took us up the hillside to the older part of town surrounding the palace. We had a great time exploring the shops and boutiques including a quaint old toyshop, and I even found some pretty little notebooks for mum. We stopped for a quick bite, I had a mediocre croque monsieur and was very temped by some local beers. But I haven't been 18 long enough to not feel guilty drinking in front of a friends' parent.
The Palace looked nice but 12E entry was a bit beyond me so we enjoyed the views instead, after another shopping fix we wandered down along the road past the Monaco Cathedral. Possibly (and fittingly) the smallest Cathedral in the world. It held the tombstones of all Monaco's royal family, with the exception of Grace Kelly. We came across the Aquarium by chance actually, and decided to enter purely to get out of the rain. It's very well done, there are even English signs to educate the wayward tourist. We stayed untill closing and then spent a few minutes perusing the expensive gift shop.
Walking down the hill, we passed very beautiful public gardens and admired the view over the Port. Man is it a view, not necessarily the ocean, lovely though it is, the real eye catcher is what is docked in the port. Boats. Big boats. Boats that looked as though my whole house would comfortably fit inside the hull. And these are the privately owned ones, not a commercial cruise ship in sight. I readily admit now that I sinned that day: I coveted thy neighbours' possessions in a very vocal and envious way.
At the base of the hill was a Sideshow Alley type area, very touristy of course, but kind of cool in a Coney Island kind of way. There were rides and skill testers and even a place where you could pay to take a Ferrari for a joyride. Only 85E/ hour. We walked around the harbour and up to the headland where the infamous Monte Carlo casino resides.
The casino is grand and showy and rich in a very very obvious Donald Trump-esque way. You understand why this is where the rich and idle come to play. The huge displays of wealth and excess were slightly daunting but at the same time you can't look away. There were th old and rich and the young and rich but the common denominator was money. Monaco and Monte Carlo are fun places to visit and hey the tax cuts are great. But it could become a serious drag to live in such a pretentious world. (And I'm not just saying that because I'm NOT one of them!!!)
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