A visit to Monaco
May 8, 2015
|Friday, May 8th. (VE day. Victory in Europe is a National Holiday in France, also our youngest son’s birthday)
I think we took the long way around to the train station. We traveled over 4,000 paces getting there. There were 3 people ahead of us at the ticket window and they were all traveling a lot farther than us. As we waited, patiently, Bill was getting concerned that we would miss the train. I went out to one of the machines that sold “billets” but wasn’t able to understand how to get any.
There was a group of policemen chatting beside me so I asked if anyone spoke English and one volunteered. He was very helpful in guiding us through the process of purchasing return tickets and even escorting us toward the platform we needed to be on to catch the right train.
We knew we had to get off in Nice and change trains but how. A lovely young female conductor informed us she was de-boarding in Nice and she would watch for and guide us to where we needed to be. (All this in halting English and French mind you) See, no reason to panic. It is easy to get around!!
We had time to wander out onto the streets of Nice and take some pictures and most important find a Tourist Information Booth. She kindly gave us some maps of Monaco and some ideas of getting around. Very helpful info.
On the train platform we met a couple from Tacoma and one from Seattle. The later having a part time home in Nice and were on their way to a market just inside the Italian border. They were agast that I should suggest driving instead of taking the train. Gas prices, parking, traffic compared to an inexpensive train ride, not a tough decision.
On seeing Monaco we compared it to seeing Vegas for the first time. Extravagant, Glitsy, Glamorous, Opulent and any other words that describe being slightly over the top. Also, it is built into a mountain side. I knew it was going to be a challenge exploring.
Actually, they have over the years increased its size by 1/3 by landfills and it still remains smaller than New York’s Central Park. It is the world’s second smallest country, only the Vatican is smaller. Present day population consists of 7,500 Monegasque citizens out of a total population of 32,000 and 107 nationalities are represented.
Its history is also quite extraordinary.
Monaco has been in the Grimaldi family since its acquisition in 1297 from the Genoese. In spite of bitter family feuds the Grimaldi’s still rule as the world’s oldest monarchy.
The Casino was built by Charles 111 in 1856 in an effort to save himself from bankruptcy. It was so successful that by 1870 he was able to abolish taxation for his people, provided they didn’t gamble!!
Monte Carlo was preparing for a big race the next day of Formula 1 Electric cars. Admission was FREE. The place was a zoo. Grandstands were all around the harbour and up and through the streets. I can’t imagine what the crowds of people would be like the next day because the city was full of wandering folks the day before. Talk about congestion!!
We elected to take a hop on, hop off bus tour with audio guide. This was a brilliant idea on our part. The bus driver knew which streets were still open and we were able to get an overall view of the country without straining our Quads, Hamstrings or Gluteus Maximuses.
The pictures describe this country far better than I could.
We caught a very busy non-stop train back to Antibes full of commuters. The trip was around 45 minutes.
“Over hill and dale”, we meandered back to our camping “pitch”, exhausted again and not for the first time, wondering if we were indeed out of our ever loving minds.
Saturday found us giving the RV a good inside scrub and airing and washing the bedding. The manager was quite ambivalent when I told him that the dryer didn’t seem to be getting hot after a 3 E. drying cycle and my sheets were still wet. “Hum, needs another cycle” he says – “6E to dry sheets” I exclaimed, he shrugged his shoulders with a “C’est la vive” and pointed to the sun. So we sat in our little yard with our sheets billowing out around us.