-the world as I see it
The release of Iron Man 3 just reminded me about my trip to Monaco and the backlog of blog posts about my vacation in the south-east of France during Christmas. If you’ve watched the second movie in the trilogy, perhaps you will remember Tony Stark getting whiplashed during the Grand Prix in Monaco. If that doesn’t ring a bell, I guess you were too busy focusing on Gwyneth Paltrow 😉 Monaco is a hilly,scenic little country nestled between France and the Mediterranean sea. It is probably one of the very few places in the south of Europe where you can find a relatively good number of English speakers. Given that Monaco can be reached in just 45 minutes from Nice for just a euro, my friend and I hopped on to the bus no. 1oo and decided to spend half a day there. Accommodation in Monaco can work out to be really expensive, so if you’re on a shoestring budget, it’s better to base yourself in Nice or a village close by and plan a day trip to Monaco.
Morning joggers in velvet tracksuits, fancy breeds of dogs (wearing more jewellery than I’ll ever have in my entire lifetime), cabin cruisers and luxury yachts docked at the port and the sound of the revved up engines of supercars whizzing past – wow, this place should have been named ‘Moneyco’ instead, I thought to myself as I strolled along the coastline.
Visible from all around the city, is the fortification on a hill, which encloses the palace of the Prince of Monaco. The construction style of the palace is a mixture of different architectural periods. The palace was home to Grace Kelly until her death in the 1980s. Make sure you time your visit such that you get to see the guard changing ceremony that takes place everyday at 11:55 am.
While some people envy the inhabitants of Monaco for the luxurious lives that they lead, some others envy them because of the geographical features and natural beauty of the land and the awesome climate that the Monegasques enjoy year round.
Personally, I didn’t like Monaco all that much, as the South of France has better locales and I am not a casino person. Fortunately my friend and I have similar tastes, so we decided to head on to Eze. We boarded the bus no 100, and got out at Eze, paying just a euro again. The little village of Eze is located high up in the mountains and is an hour’s trek from the bus stop. Most people take a bus to the centre of the village and prefer to come back on foot or even take the bus again. My friend and I chose to hike up to the top and it was a good decision, although we regretted it initially. The steep climb got us huffing and puffing within ten minutes and we had to make a few pit-stops along the way, but the spectacular views more than made up for the sore muscles.
With its narrow alleys and walkways, overhead arches, decorative street lamps, cobbled paths and rubble masonry buildings, some of which have statuettes on their corners, Eze makes a charming medieval French village.
The number of inhabitants in the village is sparse and it is more of a tourist destination now, consisting mostly of of hotels, shops, restaurants and cafes. Perched at the top of the village is the church of Notre Dame whose clock-tower defines the skyline of Eze.
The trek back to the bus stop took about 45 minutes and was almost effortless compared to the journey upwards.
I was a little tired but what the heck, I had been to two countries in one day 😀