Monte Carlo, Monaco

I loved the Swiss Alps and imagined myself living in one of the cute cottages in green pasture next to a stream.  And when I went to Ko Samet, an island in Thailand an hour and a half away from the mainland, I thought how lovely it would be to retire and live like a queen in the bungalows over the water and own a restaurant.  I could have a personal masseuse and get thai massages everyday and have my own chef and a housekeeper.  When others have asked me where my favorite place is that I have beent to, I didn’t quite know what to say until my very recent trip to Monte Carlo.

Though Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, ranging about 1.24 miles, it is full of glitz and sparkles…beautiful mega-million dollar yachts or what I call, “floating mansions,” high-end shopping galore, spotless streets, pristine homes on the cliffs, world’s famous casino, upscale Hotel de Paris, beautiful Lamborghini and the Grand Prix auto race…if I was in love, I would have married the Prince of Monaco in a heartbeat, just like Grace Kelly did.

The Rock next to the Royal Palace one of the best view of the city.  Changing of the guards ceremony takes place everyday at 1155AM.

To get around, you can take a red trolley that stops in the major tourist spots.  Or walking is doable if you are moderately active.  Check out the Cathedral where Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier got married and is now entombed.  Entrance to Hotel de Paris is only for guests but you can actually enter the lobby at Hotel Armitage, so relax and soak in the decor.

Entering the casino in Monte Carlo felt like I was entering a palace.  The impeccable interior design and gold ceilings dropped my jaws.   There is no photography allowed inside and you must adhere to a very strict dress code, men in tuxedos or nice suits and ties, women in cocktail dresses and have a valid passport.  The entrance fee is 10 Euros per person.  Visual images of James Bond’s 007 Casino Royale, the Golden Eye and Never Say Never Again came to mind and I was eager to watch the re-runs as soon as I get back to the states.  What I found interesting is that the residents of Monaco or Monegasques are forbidden to enter the casino.  To me, it’s almost like saying the locals in Las Vegas can’t enter any of the casinos on the strip, either.

Next door is Cafe de Paris. This is the perfect spot to people watch and sip coffee or eat a sandwich though it will cost you an arm and a leg.  For example, a club sandwich is over $25.  The casino inside Cafe De Paris has no cover nor dress codes, so now is your perfect opportunity to play some poker and take home poker chips as a souvenir.

 

Monaco has money and I mean lots of money.  Lunch that costs about $1500 for a 9-course meal per person will do  absolutely no damage at all.   Unemployment is unheard of.  In fact, Monaco’s residents enjoy a high standard of living, making the most per capita income and highest level of car ownership in the world.  Tourism as well as banking are the top industries.  Some of the wealthiest in Europe store their money in the financial institutions in Monaco.

Monaco will always be treasured in my heart as a sparkling diamond in the Mediterranean Sea.

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