Well, here we are in Monte Carlo, the main province of Monaco. Just a brief history lesson before we start. Monaco is on the very southern end of France and is about the same size as Central Park. It is called a principality and has been ruled by a royal family for 700 years. The most recent and well loved are Prince Renier and Princess Grace (the movie star Grace Kelly) who have both passed on. Princess Grace turned Monaco from a struggling principality to a world-renowned tourist destination but a country well-respected by the world. Sadly she died in a car accident about 28 years ago (the car may have been driven by her 16 year old daughter…nobody knows) and the Prince and their three children had to carry on without her. Prince Renier died about three years ago and now their only son Albert has taken the reigns and seems to have stabilized after a difficult transition.
Monaco is famous for the Grand Prix in May (which runs through the streets of Monaco) and the Master’s Tennis Tournament in April.
Because there are no taxes, this is a huge haven for those with large fortunes including several tennis stars who live here. It is all built on a steep hillside that runs down into the Mediterranean and it is simply gorgeous! This is the view from our hotel balcony:
And out the other window:
As you can guess, this is the land of boats and the yachts!
The Palace is on a giant rock mountain overlooking Monaco:
Of course the first place dad wanted to go was to see the Prince Renier’s car collection. Here are a few shots of these truly incredible cars:
Kevan would love this one!
and dad LOVED this one:
I myself liked this one:
The next day we visited the Cathedral and the Palace, which closed to the public last October.
On top of that mountain they also had a really nice museum and aquarium;
This little girl is 150 million years old and below you’ll see an enormous octipus from long ago.
The aquarium had fish and coral i’ve never seen:
The fish below was about 1/8th of an inch thick and about 14 inches long:
Last night we had a delightful meeting with a brand new YPO Chapter in Monaco. We were their first education event! With only eighteen people, we had a delightful discussion and a dinner to die for afterward. I don’t even want to think about how much that dinner cost! The prices are astronomical!
This was our dessert, which came to us as a round sphere about the size of a baseball. They then poured hot chocolate over it and this was the result:
The next day was definitely the highlight for Dad as he got to play at the courts where they hold the Monte Carlo Master’s Tournament matches which is a run up to the French Open. Nadal has won here for the past five years! Not only is it historic, but the scenic background is fantastic!
One of the great YPO guys lent dad his tennis clothes and shoes so he would have to look disgraceful on such prestigious courts. Here he is serving on centre court:
The cabanas in the background rent out for the day for 5000 euros (about $8000 dollars) for the basic ones and go up from there!
One of the gracious YPOers lent his car today to take a spin up into the mountains. It was truly an amazing drive. It reminded us a lot of Cinco Terra in Italy where houses literally hang on the side of the mountains and look as though they could plunge into the Mediterranean at any moment!
We were starving by the time we arrived at our destination and of course, true to European tradition, restaurants were all closed until dinner (it was 3:00). We stopped at a lovely small hotel where they said they could give us a “snack” but not lunch. We quickly ordered a club sandwich and a salmon sandwich and waited a LONG time to be served. While we were waiting I said to dad, “whatever they charge us for these sandwiches it’s going to worth it!”
Well they weren’t too great but we were served like royalty. Imagine our surprise when they brought the bill and we realized that we were going to pay 40 euros (about 65-70 dollars for the club sandwich but only about $35 for the salmon sandwich (literally little slices of smoked salmon on heavily buttered slices of white toast)! You can imagine dad’s face:
He was so flustered that he forgot to ask for a box to take the leftovers, which would taste really good right now!
We considered seeing Avatar again tonight which has just reached the cinemas here but we reconsidered when we realized it would be in french and we can imagine that the tickets might be about the same price as a Broadway show!
We are devastated watching the earthquake disaster in Haiti. It is absolutely tragic and the difficulties just keep getting worse! Poor poor people!
Tomorrow we are off to Nice, Paris and finally Ammon, Jordon. Another fascinating chapter in our journey! It’s Josh’s birthday so we’re hoping to get him on skype!