Saturday, October 29, 2011


The hills of Monaco are built up with ugly highrise apartment buildings.
The road to Monaco is a  spectacular drive along the coast with steep cliffs on one side and steep drops to the sea, on the other.  After parking the car and taking the elevator to the sunshine, Bill asked me what I thought. "This has to be one of the ugliest cities I've ever seen!"  Monaco looks like a crazy person was in charge of the building permit department.  The hills are a jumble of big, ugly highrises piled one on top of the other. No interesting architecture, not continuity of design, just ugly.  Fortunately, we were by the harbor which is very nice and full of beautiful yachts.
The setting is spectacular, but unfortunately, they let building happen with what looks like no prior planning.

We saw more expensive cars per square meter than anywhere else we have ever visited. 

The Grimaldi's palace overlooks it all.  It's good to be King, ok, Prince.
Walking to the casino, we came across an area called the star.  It's a garden built on top of a hotel, facing the sea.   The plants are beautiful and well maintained, but since this is one of the riches countries in the world, all 2 square kilometers of it, that is to be expected.  If you are a resident of Monaco, you pay no taxes on anything, but the majority of people who live here are not official residents. 
The Casino at Monte Carlo is quite a lovely building surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Adam and Eve in the garden in Monte Carlo.

The Casino reflected in an art piece entitled, Sky Disc.  This is the view of the back of the disc, the front focuses on the sky and is not rippled.
If you don't want to gamble ( and they charge you 10 euro to enter the gambling part of the casino!), then you can go window shopping.  They have all the big buck names.  We especially enjoyed Cartier's windows.
A Cartier watch with a few diamonds and rubies thrown in for good measure.  I don't know why Bill wouldn't buy this for me, after all, rubies are my birthstone.

After walking all around and up, Monaco is built in a bowl, so there is a lot of up, we decided to sit down and enjoy a cold brew.  The Cafe de Paris had a wonderful undershade area on the front where we found a table and ordered two tall ones.  We did not ask the price, deciding it would be the only time we would visit Monaco.  The beer was tasty and very cold.  Relaxing in the shade was very refreshing.  When the bill came it was 13 euro each for the drinks.  We enjoyed it very much.
This necklace also had a matching ring and earrings.  We did not ask the prices of these, either.

Beautiful gardens with fountains surround the casino area.

With a boat this size, you could bring all your family and friends.  This is just the outdoor area, wonder what the inside looks like?
Leaving Monaco, the road went over the mountain via switchbacks; extremely sharp, steep switchbacks. There was one so sharp, I couldn't turn the wheels with one hand, but I also needed to shift the gears at the same time.  That was an interesting sensation.  I would have felt like I was in a James Bond movie, except our little deisel Opal was not an Aston Martin!

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