Monaco: Where the Billionaires Hang - South of France Spectacular Day 2

August 5, 2012

So this is the heat everyone had been warning us about. For weeks, Mom and I had been looking at the weather. 80 degrees and sunny. We figured we couldn't fail. The weather would be glorious. And it is. But it is hot. Sweat bib kind of hot. We all are just flat out sticky. But if everyone is sticky, then it isn't so bad. Right??

We both slept ok last night. I think each of us had a time when we woke up for a while. Mom had it worse than me. She said she was up for two hours. The good news is that after the day like we had today, we would sleep hard tonight.

Breakfast was on the patio of the hotel. It was a normal buffet breakfast for a hotel. At least there was a selection of cheeses. The porridge was good. And Mom and I have decided to steal a thing of Nutella each day. Sure, we could buy a big tub on Nutella, but smaller travel-sized Nutella is perfect when you need a small amount of Nutella. Only because we have both learned we can't have an open jar of Nutella at home.

We were told to be outside at 830am to meet our group. Today, we were going for a walking tour of Monaco with an added stop at the State Apartments. Tragedy struck early as we sat on the ledge across the street from the hotel. Someone had written something on the ledge. I didn't realize it was something that was still wet. Like lipstick. So, I sat near enough to get a smudge on my pants that was really noticeable. There wasn't enough time to go up and change (especially considering I only have a few pair of pants that have to stay in circulation), so I became the girl with the painted ass. I did see a woman who had spilled coffee on her khaki's, so I wasn't alone, but still...not a great start.

The bus came to get us on time. Most of the participants came from the Hotel Majestic, where we had dinner last night. Our guide told us that we should be happy with our hotel. It didn't seem as "grande" as the Majestic, but our rooms were much better. Bigger. With the toilet in the bathroom. Apparently, the toilet was not in the bathroom, but elsewhere. I didn't ask where "elsewhere" would be.

My painted ass got on the bus as we drove about an hour to Monaco. The drive was lovey and the guide was very good. She was a smidge difficult to understand at times, but we figured most of it out.

The first stop in Monaco was near the Musee Oceanagraphic. We parked the bus and figured out how to get out to Monaco-ville. There are five areas in Monaco. Monaco-ville is just one of them. We walked through a lovely garden area and saw where Princesses Stephanie and Caroline live. After a bit, we ended up at the State Apartments to see where all of royalty boogies down.

The State Apartments was very much like a toned down version of Versailles. Even down to the listening device we used. It makes me wonder about how royalty lived both back in the day and how this building is used now. There was an interesting painting in one of the rooms. After seeing tons of paintings that are hundred of years old, there was a painting of Princess Grace, Prince Ranier and the kids. The picture was painted in 1981 and it is soooooooo dated. It made me wonder if someone posed for a painting in 1736, would they look back on it in 1752 and shudder about how the fashions looked?? Or is that just a 21st Century thing??

After the tour, we were around for the Changing of the Guards at the palace. It was a much more subdued scene than at Buckingham Palace. But it was still pretty cool to see. I forget that Monaco is a whole different country (a Principality) . We had a young kid slide through the line to stand in front of us. Poor kid was probably 10 and had fabulous BO. Even the lady beside us who spoke no English made an "Oh my god this smells" face.

Once the Guards had changed, we had time to walk the streets of Monaco-ville. It wasn't that hard to get around. You turn one corner, then another and you're either at the Cathedral or the Museum. We did end up at the Cathedral, because as I've said in the past...I may hate religion, but I dig architecture of churches. This church had the tomb of Princess Grace and Prince Ranier. The tombs are easy to find because they are the only one with flowers. Grace had more flowers than Ranier, but that's to be expected.

We had been given a stipend for lunch. 40€ each. We ended up using 20€ at a little sandwich place. So really...we netted out pretty good there. We wandered around for a bit, then ended up waiting for the rest of the group at a giant baby. No, seriously. There was a statue of a giant baby. And it was a fantastic meeting place. It was also very fun to walk around saying, "Bebe" as that's how our guide pronounced it.

Back in the bus we went. This time to Monte Carlo. We were told we had to go into the casino (Meh. It was really tiny). We had wanted to go across the street to Cafe du Paris, where apparently we needed to drink champagne and people watch. If we didn't go into the casino, we might have had time. But we walked by it. That had to be something. We also made our way into a Japanese Garden that Princess Grace wanted to build (she planted the first tree). Again, meh. As Mom said, "Japanese Gardens are a bit boring.". True that.

I think I slept a bit on the bus ride back to the hotel. By the time we got back, I needed a nosh. We had another bonus for the trip...a dollar amount we could charge to the roof for food and drink. Nice stuff. So we got a cheese plate and two champagne drinks. One French Bellini. One Raspberry Fizz. Glorious. I think that'll be our treat every night. After we got back to the room, Mom tried to get the sticky off of her. I decided it would be wise to take a nap. Dinner was next and we had to go back with people again.

We had a dine around meal this evening. For the trip we are known as Baltimore. The Baltimore people (along with DC, Houston and Dallas) ended up at L'Auberge Provencale. It was the oldest restaurant in Cannes. The meal started out lovely as they handed us a glass of a Rose Champagne. Dude. I don't know what that was, but I'm finding me some Rose Champagne when I get home. The wine was flowing and the meal was served. The food itself...it was lovely. It wasn't a masterpiece. Maybe I am a bit jaded from being in Chicago. But this was similar to staying in Paris earlier this year (though we didn't prepare as well as we could have for that food experience). Granted, it was one meal. But still. Interesting. I could have had another glass (or two) of wine, but I had Mom's glaring eyes watching me. It's not that she was outwardly judging, but I'm sure inwardly there was plenty of judging.

The walk back to the hotel was long and we were tired from the day. We were really tired from the day. Hopefully we will sleep well tonight (can't imagine we wouldn't) and we'll be able to hit the road with a vengeance. Tomorrow, we go to a winery. Judgement be damned...it's drinking time!!

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