Catching the bus to Monaco was almost a highlight in itself!
It takes roughly 45mins from Nice, and hugs the coastline the whole trip, allowing us to really see how the other half live. Stunning cliffside residences, peering over in to the ocean, with gigantic swimming pools and winding driveways to reach the mansions. Such spectacular views and homes, that it almost seemed a little unrealistic – like something straight from a Hollywood movie.
Unfortunately for us, on arrival to Monaco, we were greeted with terrible weather.
Torrential sideways rain, strong wind, and the temperature plummeted. We also made the mistake of hopping off the bus far too early, which meant walking through the pouring rain in order to find Place du Casino, home of the infamous Monte Carlo casino. Sadly, when we eventually arrived – we looked a little like drowned rats.
It made it difficult to photograph the beautiful structures and take in the stunning beauty of the casino, while standing under a tiny umbrella being thrashed about in the wind.
We weren’t going to let some rain stop us, as we were on a tight schedule, and knew we wouldn’t be able to return another day – so we continued on. Thankfully the wind and rain eased a little, and we could carry on walking around admiring the beautiful buildings and scenery throughout Avenue de Monte-Carlo, Avenue Princess Grace and down to the Grimaldi Forum.
Deciding we needed to take a break from fighting with the weather, we took shelter in a gorgeous wine bar meets charcuterie on Avenue Saint Laurent. The waiter didn’t speak much English and Ryan didn’t know enough French to be able to order without some help, but thankfully we ended up with a beautiful platter of local cuisine.
Our mains were perfectly cooked beef with wonderfully fluffy mashed potato – all matched with a delicious bottle of red, perfect for the type of weather we were experiencing outside. We also discovered that it was actually their first day of service – they had only just opened, so we were very lucky to stumble upon it! Once we were finished we walked out to see that blue skies and sunshine had returned!
It was then time to head in to the Monte Carlo Casino!
This is the part we were most excited about. Walking in, we were asked to hand over our cameras, so unfortunately there won’t be any photos taken from inside the casino itself. It was such a vast building with such opulence throughout. It was such an incredible sight, although filled with tourists, all placing something in the pokie machines which were strewn about the main foyer.
We had already decided that we would be paying the extra money to enter the rear of the casino where the real gambling was taking place over the blackjack, roulette and poker tables. And we were certainly glad we did! We wandered up to the bar to order a cocktail each, and then starting overlooking the tables. Needless to say we were a little out of league, which meant we weren’t able to gamble anything. But it was still such an experience to be in their watching people lose insane amounts of money.
There certainly were some interesting types gambling away in the casino. There was a young French guy by himself (he wouldn’t have been any older than us) playing 2 tables at once, and quite clearly spending his parents money.
We had a silent older Russian lady, again playing by herself – and as far as we could tell, the only person in the room who was consistently winning. This didn’t seem to faze her at all. She would just keep placing her winning chips in her handbag, and continue on as if she hadn’t just won a significant amount of Euros.
We watched a husband and wife play for at least half an hour. She kept pulling out 500Euro notes from her handbag (Hermes Birkin, mind you) and placing them on the table. Every now and then she would open the bag again to display thick wads of notes, and place more and more on the table. We watched them continually lose, and at one point the husband was so angry he grabbed one of the rakes the croupier uses to pull in all the chips and snapped it in half. We were astounded, but the staff continued on like nothing had happened. I guess that is what happens when you have money! I think the half an hour we sat and watched them they easily would have lost 20,000Euros. I bet they were cursing that silent Russian lady for taking all of their money!
Now, it is here we enter the car section of the blog – just for Ryan! We all know his deep love for all things cars (I honestly think he loves them more than me) so this section is just for him. I asked him to write about his favourite cars we saw:
No Bugatti Veyron’s which was sad. We did see an Aston Martin One-77 in the traffic which was awesome.
There was a traffic jam of an Aston Martin DBS, a few Rolls Royce Phantoms, a couple of Ferrari California’s and some Bentleys. Porches were a bit cheap for this company.
Monaco is such a strange place. Such decadence, yet Ryan and I couldn’t quite get past the Gold Coast vibe about it.
Amongst the old beautiful buildings were things obviously built in the 70’s and 80’s that haven’t really stood the test of time. It has such a high density as well, that at times it felt a little claustrophobic, being surrounded by all of the buildings. It has an area of 1.98 km2 (0.76 sq mi), and a population of 36,371, making Monaco the second smallest, and the most densely populated country in the world.
One thing they do have, very well dressed and stylish policeman – Check this guy out!
Of course Prince Albert II of Monaco has his own private collection that you can wander in an look around.
This isn’t a museum, just his own private car collection. It has so many types of vehicles, from the 1900’s right through to now. F1 cars, Fire Trucks, Army Vehicles, you name it – he has it in his private collection.
From there we walked up to see the breathtaking views over Monaco and see the grandeur of Albert II of Monaco’s Palace and Cathedral.