Tuesday May 28, 2019
Today we will visit our fourth country of the trip. It will just be for the day. We leave the guesthouse a little before 0800. We plan on catching either the 0825 or 0840 bus to Monaco. We make good time on our walk and the 0825 bus is waiting at the stop. We board, buy our tickets, and find a seat. The bus is nice in that the stops come up digitally and display the next stop so there is no guessing on our part. As we leave Nice, we start to climb and the views out to sea are great. I manage to take one or two in between the bushes, walls, and fences that line the road. Then we just sit back and enjoy the ride.
We enter Monaco and then get off at the Place d’Armes stop. We check out a map and start our walk towards the Royal Palace. As is the case with all castles and palaces here, the walk is uphill. Along the walk, we get views of the modern city and also pass a statue of Prince Ranier III. We go through a gate built into the walls and arrive at the Place du Palais or the Palace Square.
There is a statue of a monk who was none other than Francois Grimaldi, a renegade Italian, who snuck in as a monk, and captured Monaco in 1297. He started the Grimaldi dynasty that still rules the principality today. Monaco is now the longest lasting dynasty in Europe. The palace does not open until 1000 so we have some time to check out the gift shop and the viewpoints which look out over the city. One can walk from border to border in about an hour making Monaco one of the smallest countries in the world, albeit a very rich one.
We watch the palace guard march back and forth in front of the official entrance. More for show with the long rifle, I wonder what weapon is in the small guard shack. While Carol is using the facilities, I make a new friend in the gardens. Opening time rolls around and we enter the palace. No photos but I manage to get a few.
The royalty still lives here in a different wing. We tour the part of the palace that Princess Grace Kelly toured when she met Prince Ranier III. There is a special exhibit which tells the story of how the event happened and the reason they met. She tragically died in a car crash in 1982 and Prince Ranier III died in 2005. Their son is the current Prince of Monaco.
The tour through the rest of the palace is made more interesting by the included audio guide. One room is known as the Duke of York room because in the 1600’s, the Duke of York took ill while traveling, came here for care, and died in this room. The last room has paintings of previous princes and a portrait of the royal family when Princess Grace was alive.
We exit back into the palace square and stroll along the cliff sides to the Cathedral of Monaco. We pass a sign of an old friend, the Via Alpina, which is the hiking trail we did part of on our first trip to Switzerland. It either ends or begins in Monaco on its several country journey the other end or beginning being in Slovenia. The cathedral was built in 1878 and is where centuries of Grimaldi’s are buried. Princess Grace and Prince Ranier were married here in 1956.
Behind the altar are the tombs of the royal family lies including Princess Grace and next to her Prince Ranier III. We leave the cathedral and there is a photo outside of the wedding ceremony. From there we walk the gardens which are scattered along the hilly cliffside and enjoy both the plants and the water views. We have a snack by a statue of a sea captain steering his ship. After our snack, we continue our walk high above the sea.
I get to experience a yellow submarine where I come across an octopus’s garden. There are a couple of songs there somewhere. We come to a point which is made up of Fort Antoine and start a long series of steps to descend down to sea level.
The views along the way are great. We can see the harbor front we have to walk around, the green roof of the famous casino, and some very large private boats. We make it to sea level and walk into a cacophony of detours. The Famous Monaco Gran Prix ended two days ago and the country is busy tearing down the barriers and grandstands that lined the race route. It is hard to imagine that they travel close to 200 miles per hour along the very curvy route. Finally reaching the other side of the waterfront, we begin a climb upwards to the Monte Carlo Casino.
When we get there, a car which we think may have won the race is parked in front. Feeling James Bondish, I jump in and take it for a spin around the country. It handles nicely and then I suddenly snap out of my delusional fantasy scene right before the cops nab me. The park directly across from the casino has an interesting mirrored sphere which gives some cool pictures of the casino.
We head to the back of the building and then walk along another cliffside garden path above the sea. They sure did a nice job building wonderful walking paths and gardens for the rich to stroll along. Us peasant folks are allowed to enjoy them too. Carol gets a hand along this path and we also see some interesting construction below. There are ships with construction equipment on them and they are filling in the sea and building more land. Monaco is a growing country. There is already an area called Fontvielle that was built under the last Princes reign with its own harbor area and luxury apartments with lush tree lined roof patios. This seems to be the next area to be claimed from the sea. It is cool to watch the work being done. Finishing our walk, the visit to Monaco is done for us. We find the bus stop and luckily get a seat as it fills up fast. At the next stop which is where we got off this morning, everyone that gets on has to stand for the whole trip. Back in Nice, we stop for a small pizza to get rid of our hunger until dinner time.
This evening we opt for the very French meal of fish and chips with beer. The Fat Mermaid satisfies this craving. Carol gets a local IPA and I have a Corsican beer. Her IPA says on the bottle that you are on the French Riviera, the sky is blue, the sun is shining. Let yourself be seduced by the coolness of a Blue Coast beer. The fish and chips are very good and mine comes with what looks like a side of avocado. This is why you do not judge things on their looks as it turns out to be the English version of avocado, the mushy pea. After dinner, we do a short digestive walk along the beach before returning to our room for the evening.
Hancy Guesthouse 88.65E
RT Bus to Monaco 6E Cash
Monaco Royal Palace 16E
Pizza at Tartine 6E Cash
Ice Cream Cones from Market 2.27E Cash
Dinner at the Fat Mermaid 43E
Walked 9.5 Miles