I have never been in a city which I could not follow my route on the map. After arriving to Monaco-Monte Carlo station via train from Nice, I dropped by tourist information inside the station. The lady there just gave me the map and recommended me to visit only Monaco – Old Town and the Casino area. I got the map and went out the station. I knew where I wanted to go but I could not find out which way to follow. I was on the bridge and was looking at the roads. One moment, I felt as if I had been in one of Escher‘s works called Relativity while I was going down and up by using public lifts and stairs.
Anyway… After I got lost for a while and met with people who got lost too (which is natural), I decided to follow the road that cars used. I arrived to the port where there were many expensive yachts. I decided to go to Old Town first. I shopped from the fruit market which was at the beginning of the road to the Old Town. I bought delicious cherries. Each cherries were bigger than the height of 1 euro.
Monaco-Ville (the Old Town) is located on the top of a hill. The Palais Princier, Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Oceanographic Museum and old town are located here. There is a panoramic view of the port from the top. The view of the city is very strange, there are many many houses on the narrow and steep piedmont of Mont Agel. It looks like to Istanbul in this sense, there are a lot of ups and downs. The only and most important difference between these cities is the level of income for sure. While I was walking through the hills, I thought if a person can drive in Monaco, he/she can drive car any where in the world.
The city/country makes you feel that they loved Grace Kelly so much. In almost every corner, there are signs which show the memory of Princess Kelly in that particular place. I like the Grace Kelly portrait at the port the most.
After the nice tour around the old city, I wanted to cool myself because of the noon time and very hot nice summer weather. I went down from the Old City to the port side. When I turned right (not to the port side), I saw diving platforms since there are not many shores formed along the coast in Monaco. I walked for a while I found a nice small beach with very tiny stones. There were a couple and a family with a Golden Retriever dog. It was really a good timing for swimming. I put my things away and jumped into the cool sea. I guess it is one of the best seasides I have ever had a chance to swim (the other is Praia Preta – Black Beach in Ilha Grande/ Brazil). I could see many fish very close to coast during my swim with my goggles. The nice thing was that there is also a shower in this small cute beach.
It was very funny that I watched Madagascar characters were swimming in Monaco shores (since Monaco is their first place where they arrive in Europe in the animation) shortly after my vacation. There are very nice Monaco scenes from Casino to steep streets and hilly view behind the city in Madagascar 3. I did not know this before I watched it. This was a nice surprise for a Monaco and Madagascar lover!
The next step was to see the famous Casino and Cafe de Paris. I took the photos of a wedding again after Ljubljana on my way. I like the architecture of the Casino very much. Cafe de Paris is a great place with its menu and atmosphere. I guess you should drink something at least when you are in Monaco. I chilled out for a while in Cafe de Paris and took a bus to the station. I wanted to take photos of the Monaco – Monte Carlo station with its fascinating lighting. As always, I lay down on the ground to take the photo (number 5 in the photoset). Four old nice British guys wondered what I was trying to do. After they saw the results, they were amazed with the photo I had just taken. I joined them on the train to Nice. The train was very crowded on the way back. I thought we would have been packed in sardines but the journey was easy with chatting with old funny British guys. I mentioned about the quiz shows (Pointless and Eggheads) that I like to watch on BBC (because I did not get Turkish cables and I only have Dutch channels and BBC on my TV). They were also watching the Eggheads. We even talked about the contestants in the show.
With a great pleasure of my visit to Monaco, I turned back to the hotel and left it for a nice evening in Nice :)
- Duration: One day is enough for sightseeing and swimming in Monaco.
- Transportation: I arrived to Monaco from Nice Train Station. It takes 15 minutes by train. The return ticket is around 12€. If you are based in Nice, it is very close and cheap to go to Monaco and Cannes from Nice. (The return plane ticket costed 100€ from Amsterdam to Nice. The airport bus is 5€ to Nice center. You can use that ticket for whole day transportation with buses and trams in Nice.)
- Accommodation: I stayed at Ibis Hotel in Nice next to the station. The location is very convenient if you would like to visit places around Nice. This hotel is good for last minute bookings because it offers fixed prices. Moreover, if you book it for 3 nights, it gives you 30% discount which is very good. I shared the hotel with my friend and we stayed cheaper than staying in a hostel. Three nights’ fee from Friday to Monday was 100€ per person. Nice is very expensive in high season.
- Eat & Drink: Just chill out in Old Town and Cafe de Paris.
(Visne Kiraz June 2012)