I recently read a quote somewhere that said travel is the one thing you can spend money on that only makes you richer.
Hmmmm. Well, that and possibly gambling in Monte Carlo. But that’s definitely not guaranteed. I wouldn’t know though because we never actually made it to the Casino de Monte-Carlo while docked in Monaco, the 2nd port of call on our recent cruise. Instead we took a side trip to Eze (which I’ll share in another post) and then spent the afternoon wandering around Monaco-Ville on our own.
In contrast to our first port of call in rainy Genoa, we woke up to a lovely sunrise and blue skies on day two. This was the view from our stateroom balcony.
For those of you not familiar, Monaco is 2nd smallest country in the world. The only one smaller is the Vatican, which apparently technically qualifies as its own ‘country’. Monaco encompasses a mere .78 square miles although it has been growing recently as they continue to reclaim land from the sea. It is bordered on three sides by France and by the Mediterranean on the 4th side. I suppose France would frown on them trying to expand on those other three sides, so the sea it is.
Monaco also has the world’s lowest poverty rate, highest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita, and most expensive real estate. Accordingly Monaco also has one of the largest police forces per capita in the world, and thus an incredibly low crime rate. And trust me, it shows. By the way, I say ‘accordingly’ not because Monaco has expensive things to protect, but because a large police force is expensive to maintain and Monaco can afford to do that.
There was such a difference between Genoa and Monaco. Genoa was dark, moody, gritty, and I’ll admit just a little intimidating, not to mention overcast and rainy. In contrast, Monaco was bright, clean, very welcoming and sunny. Yes, it’s possible that the weather had something to do with it, but I think it was more than that too.
Our ship was docked in Port Hercules, which is an incredibly convenient location.
I took that photo from Le Rocher (the rock) or Monaco-Ville. Monaco-Ville is the historic district of Monaco that contains the Prince’s Palace, the Oceanographic Museum, St Martin Gardens and the Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate where Grace Kelly is buried.
As you can see, we were the only ship docked that day. When I was originally posting about this trip I mentioned that we were going in the off-season because it’s cheaper and less crowded. The trade off is less predictable weather. Our plan definitely paid off here. It was a beautiful sunny day with temps in the 60’s, and there were no crowds anywhere. Mr. Q and I practically felt as though we had the entire place to ourselves most of the time.
From the dock there is a series of elevators, walking paths and escalators that take you to the top of Le Rocher. How cool is that? They made it incredibly simple to just hop off the ship and start exploring Monaco.
Here is part of the path that takes you there.
And here’s the view looking over that little wall.
The people staying in this place must have an amazing view of the sea …
And aren’t those aqua shutters to die for?
Although we didn’t take the time to go inside, the Oceanographic Museum looks amazing from the outside.
It’s a gorgeous building that is built right into the side of the cliff.
This is one of those moments where I wish I had a drone. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. But since I don’t have a drone, I borrowed this next photo from the web so I could just show you how amazing this place is.
Once we made it to the top we wandered around in Jardin de Saint-Martin a bit.
Next we took a look at the Prince’s Palace.
We missed seeing the changing of the guard, which takes place every day at noon.
We walked around the cathedral, but didn’t go inside there either. It was such a lovely afternoon and we didn’t want to waste any of it indoors.
And I have one last lovely building in Monaco-Ville to share with you today, the Palais de Justice.
Tourists aren’t allowed inside this one though, so I don’t have to feel bad about only having seen the outside.
After a very pleasant afternoon wandering around on Le Rocher, we made our way back to our ship where once again we enjoyed the view from our balcony as we sailed away.
We’d been sailing back out to sea for about 30 minutes when the strangest thing happened. Our ship turned around and went back!
I’m fairly sure this has never happened on any cruise I’ve ever been on. Had our captain forgotten something back on the dock?
The captain made an announcement at that point, there was a medical emergency of some kind on board and we were turning around to meet an ambulance boat that would off-load the person and take them to a hospital.
So we said goodbye to Monaco once again, but this time feeling a little bit sad for whomever it was that had a medical emergency only two days into our itinerary. That being said, it is nice to know that if you ever have a serious medical issue on board a cruise ship, they are willing to turn that ship around for you!
Be sure to check back next Wednesday for the third installment in my Adriatic Explorer series!