Friday, December 21, 2012

Another Day Another Country

A few years ago I decided that keeping up with my age in the number of countries I have been to was a reasonable goal. This would mean trying to get to one new country every year. This sounded simple enough but since being back to work I have not done to well at keeping up with this goal. I did not visit a new country in 2011 and as 2012 was coming to a close I have not made it to a new country. The idea was not really to check a country off a list but rather to keep me going to new places. I am a bit ashamed to admit it but honestly visiting Monaco was as much about checking off a country off as any other reason. I got a couple of days off for Christmas and with cheap flights it was a good chance to visit somewhere new.

Monaco is the 2nd smallest country in the world and just a little bit larger than Vatican City. I think of Monte Carlo and the French Riviera as a place for the rich, famous and beautiful people. It is not a place that I expected to blend in well.

I only spent one day in Monte Carlo and did not do a lot other just walk around the city but with all the hills it did wear me out. My first stop was St Charles Church where I found the blue ceiling impressive and liked the way the picture turned out.

I than went by the grand casino and debated if I wanted to throw some money away on the spin of a wheel but in the end was happy with just enjoyed the exterior and the view out over the Mediterranean.

This is a view of the casino with the Christmas decorations in front of it. I always seem to have preconceived ideas about a place and with the exceptions of a few places none of them have Christmas decorations in front of them. I just found all of the Christmas stuff in the south of France and Monaco really out of place but I guess that is the whole point of traveling to experience it for yourself and debunk all my messed up ideas about what a place is and I did a lot of that on this trip.

While setting behind the casino there was a man playing fetch with his dog. The man was in a suit and tie and the dog was on a rope. If the man threw the ball to far for the rope he would have to run along after the dog trying to get close enough to the ball avoiding the dog the sudden shock of reaching the end of the rope. I don't know why I found this such a funny site but really enjoyed watching the scene but never thought of taking a picture until after they were gone.

From the casino I walked down to the harbor and through the Christmas market that lined the harbor and then up the long climb to the palace.

I had planned on taking a tour of the palace but it did not appear to be open and later I read that it is only open when the royal family is not in residence. I just wondered around this part of the city stopping into the cathedral and just enjoying the views of the coast line with the cliffs that appear to be shooting up from the water trying to reach the sky but with a building in every place possible.

I had a good day in Monaco maybe because I did not really expect to like this city/country and even though I do not expect to return it did not fit my preconceived notions and learned something by checking this country off my list.

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