06.01.2013 - 06.01.2013 15 °C
We woke up bright and early today, as we had to finish cleaning the apartment before we left. It was a lot of scampering around, but we finished early and were able to leave without delay. It took us about two and a half hours to get to Monaco, and we had to pay at about four toll booths, as the alternative route was over an hour and a half longer. Navigating the streets once we go to Monaco turned out to be a little stressful (our GPS can be a bit unreliable at times). However, it was worth it.
Monaco is quite the country, though it doesn't feel like much more than a city. We spent some time walking through a couple gardens and down by the harbour, and got the feel of how prosperous this place is. Translation: lots of yachts. One even had a helicopter parked on it. There was a sort of holiday fair on nearby, too, with elaborate, tacky decorations that included animatronic reindeer and elves. Walking further, we saw the palace were the Prince of Monaco lived, complete with guard marching back and forth, back and forth, with an expression as stiff as his uniform.
Of course, we couldn't visit Monaco without taking a peek at the world famous Monte Cristo casino and hotel. It would be like visiting Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. Or going to the movies and not getting popcorn. It just doesn't work that way. Outside the buildings there were fountains and tropical-looking plants, as well as a large assortment of flashy cars. Most of them were worth more than the cost of our entire trip. My dad went around pretending to own various Porches and Ferraris, while I learned the different emblems and the brands they represented. "Dad, what's that one?" "A Mercedes-Benz." "And the one with the circles?" "An Audi." "What about the white one over there?" "... that's a Mazda." And so on and so forth. We also spotted a couple of itsy-bitsy Fiat 500s, which looked more like toys than road-worthy automobiles.
We wrapped up our visit, taking a last little stroll up and down the streets as we made our way to the parkade. We spotted a Canadian console, which was unexpected but kind of nice to see, like a little bit of home. Then we parted ways with Monaco. Next stop, Menton, which would be our last night in France for a while. We pulled up at Hotel Lemon (not as bad as it sounds: apparently Menton and lemons go way back, and in a good way), ready to unpack and get to know our surroundings in the few hours before it got dark. Unfortunately, we had what you might call an "unpleasant altercation" right after we parked. I had unwittingly left my door open, consequently blocking the sidewalk. So, when a passerby approached, my dad naturally told me to close it. Only the passerby seemed to think my dad was talking to him. In English. Which he didn't seem to like so much. And informed my dad thusly. Abby and I weren't sure if he was quite "all there". Understandably, it put a bit of a damper on my dad's mood. We still managed to enjoy our brief tour, though. We didn't even get lost, really. And we enjoyed a beautiful sunset by the beach, along with many of the locals. We'll be headed to Lucca, Italy tomorrow. I'll have to leave French behind and start working on my Italian. Arrivederci!