Europe 7: Monaco!

Our last stop on the French Riviera was Monaco!  Specifically, Monte Carlo!  (Which happens to be like the only city in Monaco, sooooo…..basically we saw the whole country, right?)

Immediately after we got off the 30-minute train ride from Cannes, we were awed by the view out the station window:

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Knowing only “take a left after you exit the train station” (thanks wonderful front desk man at Hotel Univers in Nice!), we took a left and headed down multiple segments of twisty-turny stairs to get to the harbor.

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My mom and I climbed SO many cool staircases during the trip!  We realized toward the end, in Vienna, I think, that it would have been fun to take pictures of every staircase we climbed, to make a big photo collage when we got home.   I think we still have enough pictures of stairs to do so, but to have pictures of EVERY stair case would've been very cool!
My mom and I climbed SO many cool staircases during the trip! We realized toward the end, in Vienna, I think, that it would have been fun to take pictures of every staircase we climbed, to make a big photo collage when we got home. I think we still have enough pictures of stairs to do so, but to have pictures of EVERY stair case would’ve been very cool!

The harbor was filled with yachts on yachts on yachts!  Not to mention, we realized as we were coming down the stairs, that the famous Monaco Grand Prix must be very soon– all of the spectator seating was being set up, along with the sponsor banners along the course.

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I give MAJOR props to each and every one of the guys who races the Grand Prix!  The roads in Monaco are INSANE.  They are very steep, skinny, and curvy!  Watching the normal cars drive around had my heart beating fast, so I truly cannot fathom drivers going around some of the turns we saw, at breakneck speeds.  Being a runner, I’m a pretty experienced jaywalker.  (I mean, who wants to stand on a corner jogging in place when you can dart safely across?)  However, in Monaco, jaywalker was a bit too much of an adrenaline rush.  Cars seemed to be flying past, coming out of nowhere.  It was scary!

After looking at the harbor a bit, my mom and I, of course, headed off to see the Monte Carlo Casino!  At one point, we thought we had found it, and took pictures in “front” of it….before realizing we were at the back.  Whoops!

Walking above the harbo, along the Grand Prix course.
Walking above the harbo, along the Grand Prix course.
Another sponsor banner on the course!
Another sponsor banner on the course!
"Hey look!  I think that must be the casino because it's extra pretty."
“Hey look! I think that must be the casino because it’s extra pretty.”
The roof of Prince Rainier's forum.  I have no idea what his "forum" actually is, but I thought the roof was pretty dang cool.
The roof of Prince Rainier’s forum. I have no idea what his “forum” actually is, but I thought the roof was pretty dang cool.
In "front" of the Monte Carlo!  Oops.  We were wondering why it didn't seem busy...
In “front” of the Monte Carlo! Oops. We were wondering why it didn’t seem busy…
After we took these pictures, some dudes were waving to us from their balcony on the third floor.  We should've gone up and hung out with them-- next time!
After we took these pictures, some dudes were waving to us from their balcony on the third floor. We should’ve gone up and hung out with them– next time!
Pretty detail
Pretty detail
Ah-ha!  Now we found the front :)
Ah-ha! Now we found the front 🙂
Casino square, directly in front of the Monte Carlo
Casino square, directly in front of the Monte Carlo– notice the spectator bleachers again 🙂
More of the front of the Monte Carlo.  There were incredible cars everywhere!
More of the front of the Monte Carlo. There were incredible cars everywhere!
Paris Casion, next to the Monte Carlo
Paris Casion, next to the Monte Carlo
The fancy shopping street
The fancy shopping street

After strolling the streets a bit, we headed back down to the harbor because I wanted to scope out the Grand Prix finish up-close-and-personal style.  After climbing through the bleacher set-up area, in places I probably wasn’t supposed to be in, I captured the perfect shot:

That's me chilling under the finish line!!  I had to dart out there between cars zipping by and it was kind of scary....but worth it.  I mean, if I had gotten hit by a car underneath the finish of the Monaco Grand Prix...well, let's just say there are worse, more boring ways to head to Heaven.
That’s me chilling under the finish line!! I had to dart out there between cars zipping by and it was kind of scary….but worth it. I mean, if I had gotten hit by a car underneath the finish of the Monaco Grand Prix…well, let’s just say there are worse, more boring ways to head to Heaven.

Finally, we headed back up the gazillion stairs to the train station and on our way back to Nice, to swoop our bags.  Then it was off to Italy!  We were a bit bummed that we didn’t have time to visit the royal palace but hey– it’s a rough life trying to fit in Cannes AND Monaco in the same day! 😉

Monaco was very cool, and I enjoyed it, but I think my mom found it cooler than I did.  I thought the views & casino square were pretty, but I couldn’t figure out what there was to do in Monte Carlo.  I literally didn’t see a single restaurant and the most affordable store I saw was probably….Burberry?  Monte Carlo just seemed like a place where rich people go to see & be seen.  All of the streets we saw seemed quite residential so….I guess people just live there and gamble?  Maybe have their servants go to Nice and get them food & bring it back?  Who knows.  I do feel cool for having seen Monaco & been seen in Monaco, but it would’t be #1 on my list of places to head back to.  It’s still an easy, fun trip though, if you’re in the area!

And now, before my next post, when we get to Italy, I wanted to share some of the pictures I took while we were traveling between Monaco & Nice that evening.  I wanted to capture as many last few photos of the Riviera as I could!

Oops--first, a look inside the Monte Carlo train station, which is built inside of a mountain.
Oh wait oops–first, a look inside the Monte Carlo train station, which is built inside of a mountain.
Villefranch-sur-Mer, the only sandy beach east of Nice, in the Riviera.
Villefranch-sur-Mer, the only sandy beach east of Nice, in the Riviera.

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It was so cool how close the train was to the water!
It was so cool how close the train was to the water!
I see Italy!!
I see Italy!!

Crazy how beautiful they are, despite being shot from inside the train, huh?

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