Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 4 - Monte Carlo: Two countries in one afternoon

After our whirlwind touring of Barcelona, it was nice to have a relaxing morning on the ship.  We docked in Monte Carlo, Monaco, around 11am, and Carolina, Roisin and Sara went ashore to see how the rich people live.  Apparently, a one bedroom apartment in Monte Carlo will run you about $30,000 per square metre. Rent for a small one bedroom was about $4,000 per month. Most of those who work in Monte Carlo live in France where living is more affordable.

I hopped on an excursion to Eze, France – a medieval village up in the mountains on the Moyenne Corniche between Nice and Monaco.  On the bus ride there, I got to see some of Monte Carlo through the bus window and, as we climbed the hills overlooking the harbour, some great views of the city from above.   





The village of Eze was built high up in the side of the mountains, overlooking the sea, for protection against pirates.  Its maze of narrow, twisting streets offered further protection.
Today it is a beautiful, quiet, charming and peaceful village, full of shops offering wares from local artisans and cafés with delectable dishes. From up high, it offers beautiful views of the sea and the landscape below.

Looking down over the rooftops of the village of Eze, and the sea below.








A shop that seems to have been carved out of the rock.




Within its twisting lanes, colourful and fragrant flowers stand out against the grey stone of the buildings.  It was a picturesque and peaceful way to spend an afternoon -- felt like I was in another time.


  

  
It was also an easy place for me to communicate in since French is the language of the village.  Actually, Barcelona wasn’t too hard either as Catalan, the language of the area, has a lot of similarities to French and most of the people we encountered in the shops and restaurants had some English. But, in Eze I enjoyed the opportunity to have conversations with the locals.
After wandering through Eze, we had a quick tour of Parfumerie Fragonard, which opened in 1926.  I was tempted to buy the fragrance designed for and named after Princess Grace.  Not only was the scent wonderful, but it sparkled on your skin too! Ooh la la!
Inside the Parfumerie Fragonard

Essential oils are stored in dark glass bottles and kept from exposure to natural light to preserve their essences,

Back on the ship we met up on deck for a soak in the hot tub and to share our stories of the day.  C, R and S had a great afternoon in Monte Carlo – wandering in the old part of the town, doing some shopping and having what sounded like a very elegant lunch in a French café.

Soaking in the hot tub as we pull away from the shores of Monte Carlo

Dinner on the ship is fabulous. We chose the traditional dining option.  It’s a two-hour, four course affair. They keep feeding us like this and I may need to buy new clothes!
The four of us dine at the 8:30 sitting in the Botticelli Dining Room. We have the same table at the back of dining room and the same waiters each night. The service is great – after two nights they already know our preferences.
Tonight I started with seared duck appetizer, followed by a salad, steak and veggies, and a cheese plate to finish off.  



Roisin & Sara were laughing so much at dinner, I couldn't get a still shot!



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