I have to say that my only regret of our entire Mediterranean Cruise has to do with Monte Carlo. Reading about the ultra-wealthy city, it did not seem like a place with much to see or explore. As a result, we did not get off of the ship until 9am , despite anchoring at 6. In hindsight, I wish we would have disembarked earlier. We ended up falling in love with the beauty and tranquility of this tiny treasure.
Once tendering ashore, we oohed and aahed as we passed dozens of beautiful yachts. From the ship, they didn't look so big compared to the Ruby Princess. However, once we were standing next to them we realized how large some of them were. As we ventured through the harbor area, we spied the Palace atop the hill, our first destination. Beginning our trek up the steps built into the mountain, we were transported away to a whole different world. The views were beautiful, with greenery, the harbor and the buildings of Monaco creating a beautiful scene.
Right when we thought it couldn't get any better, we stepped through an archway of the old hill fortress and the Palace square unfolded before us. The buildings are painted muted colors, and adorned with delicate carvings. Combine that with the stone and brick walkways, and we felt like we had stepped into the elegance of the old world. Not too many people had made it up the hill yet, so there was still a tranquility that had been missing from many of our busy destinations. Truly, the heart of Monte Carlo felt like a place to linger and just soak up the ambiance for hours.
But, alas, we did not have the time to do so, as the last tender was leaving at 1:30. So, we browsed a bit before strolling down to the Jardin Exotique, where we were again floored by the beautiful view of the coastline and flower-adorned balconies. Absolutely breathtaking! As we enjoyed the views from the cliffs, we strolled and came upon the National Cathedral. A pure white facade, the whole scene was striking, as it contrasts so well with its surroundings. We went inside, and were refreshed by the comparative simplicity of it. (By this point, we had seen MANY churches, with varying degrees of lavishness).
Down the hill, we walked across the harbor and sought to make our way up to the Casino. We headed in the approximate direction, keeping our eyes focused on the hill. Just when we began to wonder if we needed to pursue another route, we came upon the underground entrance to the elevator which carries people up to the unbelievable scene above. Stepping off the elevator, we felt like we were in Hawaii, surrounded by beautiful flowers, palm trees and a soft breeze. We made our way over to the Casino, and marveled at the scene before us. The Casino and Hotel de Paris are both beautiful buildings, adorned with sculptures and glorious accents. In between them lies a park and fountain, filled with both beautiful color and people soaking up the atmosphere. Fancy cars were parked all around, a plethora of Maseratis and Ferraris to be seen.
Feeling like Cinderella trying to beat the clock, we bid farewell to the Casino and made our way back to the harbor. As we headed back to ship, I cast my last glances at the surprisingly lovely city of Monte Carlo. I'd love to go back some day, taking my time to stroll the gardens, tour the palace, and explore the museum. Not to mention just soak up that lovely view...
Lisa is the travel loving, animal adoring, Mickey Mouse hugging owner of Dreams Delivered Travel.