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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Villefranche - Nice, Monoco, and Monte Carlo

I have not forgotten to wrap up the honeymoon trip. I just got consumed (like everything else for two weeks) by the vaccination reaction. I got rather a bit less than the minimum done during those two weeks, so this just had to wait. And now, back to our adventure!

The port of Villefranche is beautiful. It's deep and surrounded on three sides. We had to tender in again, but it was much shorter and easier than it was in La Spezia. We went on a tour that took us to Nice, Monaco, and Monte Carlo (which is part of Monaco, but whatever).

Nice was utterly charming. We wandered with the guide amongst the narrow lanes of the old city. There was a pasta market with fresh pasta right near a butcher shop and across from a gelato shop. This is the charming little European city I could spend days and days enjoying.

There was an antiques market open for the day where the farmers market usually is on Mondays, so we enjoyed strolling through and looking at the various trinkets and treasures. Some of it was just your average flea market, but some of it was stuff you just wouldn't see in the U.S. Our friends Kevin and Carrie got a set of plates. We split up and wandered down to the sea side to walk along the water for a bit, then headed back into the old section to grab a sandwich before heading off to another country.

Now, Monaco is another country in the sense that a local prince said it was a long time ago and somehow this stuck. It's tiny. It's also insanely wealthy because one prince of Monoco decided to try building a casino. It worked. Really well. So well that there are no income taxes nor sales taxes in Monaco. The wealthy love to live in Monaco. Even better is to be a citizen. I will never be that person, so I felt really out of place in Monaco. It was lovely, but not really a place I need to visit again.

Grace Kelly married the prince of Monaco back when she was a movie star. She had two children and everyone was happy, but she died tragically in a car crash in Monaco where her daughter may or may not have been driving, or she may have had a stroke while driving the twisty, treacherous roads there. We went to the church where they married and where she is buried.

Next we headed up to the palace and wandered around there for a bit.

We reboarded the bus and headed towards Monte Carlo, home of the annual Grand Prix race and the big casino. The streets are closed for a week or so to allow the prequalifications and the race. The prequals are the interesting part because that's at full speed. The final race, there's no passing, so whoever did best in the prequals usually wins because they're in the pole position.

We headed up (and I do mean UP) to the casino through a mall. The main casino has a 10 euro charge to enter for one day, but this is largely to discourage tourists. A week-long pass is 16 euro and the season pass is just 54 euro. The casino had a roundabout ringed with every sort of luxury car you can imagine (though not the only one I'd want - a Tesla). Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Ferrari were all represented.

Erik opted to go in the casino. I opted to go to the Cafe de Paris for gelato. Gelato was lovely. Erik didn't gamble, but enjoyed watching one blackjack player throw down huge sums of money and do pretty well. Other players started better on him rather than their own cards. High stakes gambling at its best. Meanwhile, I enjoyed my gelato and read my email on my iPhone while sitting in a beautiful park. It was a moment of paradise, watching ducklings play in the water.

Back on the bus we headed towards our beloved ship. It was going to be hard to leave.

We enjoyed another lovely dinner with friends, then went to Disco Night at the Rockin Bar D. Disco night was awesome. There was hustle and line dancing for Erik and I. Every few songs they'd dress one of the guests up as a famous 70's icon, and Dave grabbed Erik and said, "You come with me, and you get the camera ready." Erik handed me the camera and he came out a few minutes later in full John Travolta white suit and pompadour.

We made it to bed, thoroughly exhausted again, and not nearly ready for our last day at sea.


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