Around the World in 32 days: Country Number Seven
Home to the rich, the famous, and the famously rich, Monaco is the worlds second smallest country. Surrounded by France on one side and the Mediterranean on the other, it has the highest Human Development Index in the world. You can feel the wealth around you as you walk through the city. Exotic sports cars and luxury sedans sit casually on the side of the road while towering cliff-side villas surround –and look down- on you. Massive luxury yachts blanket the harbor, cartoonish big and intimidating. Having only most of a day in Monte Carlo, I decided against having my own imaginary yachts sailed over its birth in Boston. Perhaps if I had more time…
Monaco is beautiful in the same way San Marino was, but it doesn’t have the same touristy feel to it. It’s a real working city, even if the job is more white collar than blue. Sculptures line the perfectly manicured lawns and streets, and there wasn’t an errant scrap of trash to be found. Don’t speak French? Don’t worry; everyone here seems to speak at least two other languages so you’re probably going to be ok.
My station in life prevented me from partaking in some of the extravagant hobbies Monaco is known for (yacht racing, gambling in the high roller area of a casino, having your servants fight to the death to remain in your employ) so I spent the day eating gelato and wondering how I could sneak my way onto one of the yachts. If you are short on time, cheap buses loop the city, but it’s easy enough to walk around. Public elevators and escalators mitigate all the steep hills and winding paths. It’s a beautiful, rich seaside town that maybe feels just a little sterile. It’s almost a little too perfect, but maybe that only bothers me because it caters to dilettantes at the top of a social ladder I can’t even see from the rung I’m standing on.
Oh well, the gelato still tastes great from the cheap seats.
I’m finishing this post up on the train to Paris, sitting next to a cute girl with five face piercing (a little much for me, and I like piercing) and across from a well-meaning Chinese women who has force fed me two oranges and a banana. I don’t know the words for ‘I’m not hungry’ in Chinese. All I know is xie-xie, which must mean please feed me in addition to thank you. People are fun.
How I got there: The train from Milan to Ventimiglia cost 60 Euros. Everyone has to change trains here and boards the train for Monaco, which only has one train station. Tickets to Monaco cannot be bought at the automated machines, only from the Italian rail ticket desk. It cost 4.5 Euros and takes just 15 minutes.
Where I stayed: Appart’hotel Odalys Les Haut de la Principaute –Beausoleil. Affordable (as Monaco goes) and nice apartment style hotel about 15 minute stroll from the station.
What I did: Ate Gelato whilst lusting after yachts