My husband and I had suspected that the reason the breakfast buffet at our hotel had been more crowded on the fourth and fifth days of are trip was because it was Easter weekend. When we went down on the sixth day of our trip our suspicions were confirmed because there were significantly fewer people, which made sense since it was a Monday.
After we showered and dressed for the day we were ready to go. However, I had a sneaking suspicion that it might be a good idea to take our passports with us since we were leaving France and going to Monaco for the day. My husband didn’t think we needed to take them but something in me thought it was probably the smarter thing to do. We decided to check with the clerk at the front desk of our hotel and get their opinion. The woman made it very clear that she thought we should absolutely take our passports with us and that our California driver’s licenses wouldn’t be enough, so we headed back up to our room to get our passports out of the safe of our hotel. I was glad that we asked but I have to admit that I was a little nervous carrying around our passports all day. I probably checked about a hundred times to make sure they were securely in my bag.
Once we collected our passports we began walking to the train station to get our train to Monaco . We had always planned on being very flexible with our trip and as a result we didn’t buy our train tickets in advance. Since it’s just regional train and we were going on a weekday there was no worry that we wouldn’t get a ticket. However, there was a little bit of an issue when we got to the train station. We had just missed a train that would have taken us to Monaco by about twenty minutes and we were in a dead time. There were lots of trains headed west of Nice but for some reason there weren’t any trains that would take us east to Monaco for over an hour.
This was a little annoying but a product of us being more relaxed and playing things by ear. We bought two tickets for the next train and waited and waited and waited.
I think the wait was more annoying for me than for my husband because of the data situation with my phone. If the data on my phone had been working I could have occupied myself with Facebook or something else, like he did. Instead all I could do was check out the train schedule for our return from Monaco that night and look at the schedule for the next day when we would be crossing over into Italy. I also walked around a little bit and checked out out the little store at the train station. It wasn’t agony but I did find myself wishing I had brought a book or a magazine…Oh, well.
Finally it was time to catch our train.
We decided to buy a coke and a water from the store at the train station. Considering the amount of time we had to wait we should have done this earlier because by the time we got on the train there were no more seats left on the side of the train that would have the great ocean views on our way to Monaco.
Despite the fact that we were on the other side of the train we still we able to catch glimpses of the ocean on the short twenty five minute train ride to Monaco.
When we got off the train in Monaco we had absolutely no idea of which direction to go. We kind of bumbled around and decided to take the escalator up to the top of the train station to exit there.
As we got our first view of Monaco we were a little overwhelmed. It was utterly insane to see just how compact the country was.
I had seen pictures but to see how the hill and buildings went straight up from the ocean was a sight to behold.
Once again the fact that the data on my husband’s phone work saved us. We knew where we wanted to go and in the second smallest country in the world it really wasn’t an issue of not having enough time it was an issue of working our way through their labyrinth of streets.
We slowly made our way down from where we had exited the train station. Before too long we began to see signs pointing us towards our first stop, the prince’s palace. It was kind of funny that after making our way down a hill we were going to have to make our way back up a hill to see the palace.
But before we did that we went hog wild buying souvenirs. Having learned over the years not to count on being able to buy something later on we decided to buy anything and everything we might be interested in at the first shop we went to. At one point I was left holding all of my husband’s stuff while he tried on a t-shirt.
But to be totally honest I did the same thing to him.
After buying our souvenirs we began to make our way up to the prince’s palace.
There were some truly spectacular views of the Eastern half of Monaco along the way.
When we reached the top of the hill and saw the palace I was truly torn.
I wanted to go inside and take the tour and I think if it had been our first trip to Europe we would have. However, there were many other things we wanted to do in our one day in Monaco so we decided just to see the palace form the outside.
Once we were done taking pictures around the palace we strolled around the hill that the palace is on.
There were lots of other things to see. There were great views of the Marina.
There was a beautiful park.
There were spectacular views of the ocean.
And, of course, it was just amazing to look at this country from above.
Having made our way around the hill that that palace is on we headed back down and headed to our next stop. Along the way we saw the tiniest gas station we had ever seen.
Our next destination was the Princess Grace Rose Garden.
Although the roses weren’t truly in bloom there were some that were alive. We had suspected this but we kind of felt like we would regret it if we didn’t check it out. The Rose Garden was also a great place to stop and have a snack. Although as we were leaving my husband that saw a sign that said no eating in the Rose Garden, so I guess we broke the law in Monaco…oops.
The Rose Garden is on the western side of Monaco and our next destination was all the way over on the eastern side. So technically our next destination was on the other side of the country! But since the country is so small it really was just healthy walk to…Monte Carlo and the Casino!
As we made our way across the country (I love how dramatic that sounds) we continued to be amazed by what a marvel of urban planning Monaco is. We spotted tunnels coming in and out of absurd places. Like the tunnel that went under the hill where the prince’s palace is.
There was also a crazy intersection that had highways emerging from tunnels and the going into round about only to have another part of the round about go under a building where people live.
Our walk over to Monte Carlo took us down to the Marina in the center of the country. This is also where the famous auto race runs every year. I had to get a picture with the statue with the race car driver and the race car.
Just a view minutes after taking a picture with the race care statue we were stopped by the police. They asked us why we were there and wanted to see our passports. I was so relieved that I had listened to my inner voice about the the passports earlier in the day.
After we our run in with the police we finished crossing the Marina and we found we had to climb a hill to get up to the Casino.
There was yet another crazy road running underneath an office building.
When we arrived at the Casino there were a lot of other tourists taking pictures. We joined in and got pictures on the outside.
I wanted to go into the Casino and gamble a little bit. I decided to allow myself to loose up to 20 Euros. The second we walked inside we could feel the money. We were immediately directed to the coat check since we weren’t allowed to take our bags into the casino. So we checked our jackets and bags and headed for the casino itself. Then came the deal breaker. I turns out there is a cover charge of 10 Euros just to enter the casino. My husband didn’t really have any interest in going into the Casino but he would have done it to let me have my moment. However, I just didn’t feel right spending half of my gambling money just go go into the casino. And besides we both felt intimidated with just how rich it felt. So we back out and got our stuff from coat check. We ended up tipping about 5 Euros for the two minutes our stuff was in there.
Thankfully I noticed another Casino. As it turns out this is the “poor” Casino that doesn’t charge you to go in. This was the one for me! However, this one was also going to force us to check our bags and jackets. Since my husband wasn’t interested in gambling he volunteered to wait outside while I gambled for a few minutes. I walked around for a couple minutes deciding which machine to play. I finally settled on a regular slot machine that had multiple lines of play. I put in my 20 Euro bill. Since my husband was waiting outside I was only going to give myself ten minutes to gamble. I placed the maximum bet and the machine spun into action. When the slot machine stopped this first turn I won a jackpot! I wasn’t a big jackpot but when I calculated the total I found that after one play I was up 4 Euros. Part of me figured I should go ahead and play a couple more turns since I would be playing on house money. But another part of me thought that I was incredibly lucky to win on my first play and if I stepped away I could spend the rest of my life saying that I gambled in Monte Carlo and won. I thought that was a better story so I walked away. I think it was the right decision because although it was it was only four Euros I can say that I gambled in Monte Carlo and won!
After I excited the Casino my husband and I walked around and took some more pictures.
As luck would have it that was the only point in our entire trip in which the data on my phone was working but it wasn’t on my husband’s phone. I was kind of amused with his frustration since I had been living with it the vast majority of the time.
Having seen all the stuff that was on our list we decided to head back to the train station so we could return to Nice and have dinner there. As we headed back we saw the tiniest car either one of us had ever seen.
It made a Smart Car look like an SUV. We saw that they squeezed a movie theater under a road we were walking on.
We also took some pictures in front of a cute little church.
When we reached the train station I used my winnings from the Casino to buy myself a cup of coffee and a bottle of water.
Back in Nice we took the trolley to a square called Plaza Garibaldi and looked for a place to eat dinner. For the first time on the trip I had reached the point of utter exhaustion and I was really cold. We found a restaurant we liked but the hostess was kind of rude and claimed she couldn’t sit us inside. Since I was cold and my husband’s allergies would act up if we had to sit near smokers we looked for somewhere else. We found a place that sat us inside, thankfully. I had a risotto dish with fish.
I had miss translated the menu and was surprised to see a fish with my risotto because I thought it came is sausage. My dish wasn’t bad but I was kind of kicking myself because I probably would have ordered the duck dish if I had understood what the risotto came with. My husband had Spaghetti Carbonara and was much happier with his dish.
After dinner we took a night bus back to our hotel. I was so tired and the wait for the night bus seemed to take forever in the cold but finally it came. When we got back to our hotel room we were dismayed to find that the air conditioner was on. This was awful since I was already so cold. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to sleep but thankfully I warmed up and ended up sleeping quite well.