When we were planning our trip to Italy, I really wanted to visit some of the famous and beautiful, touristy towns of the Italian Riviera. We chose to stay in Loano because it was in between two of the towns/countries I wanted to visit. I had always wanted to visit Monaco with its extravagant style and all the millionaire yachts and Portofino was to be on the list too. I first heard of Portifino when Wayne Rooney married there and I fell in love with the photos I had seen. First I will take you on a fascinating journey to Monaco.
The journey there was very easy, although the satellite navigation system didn’t seem to work too well near Monaco. Once we drove off the motorway the ascending road became narrower and very curvy. There are several viewing places to stop and take in the breathtaking scenery. Once we had driven up to the top of the road to Monaco, we passed border control, where several men in uniform stood by the side of the road. I was amazed at how small Monaco was, considering the amount of money it has. I had imagined it to be bigger. We parked in a multi storey car park and walked into the centre of Monaco. It was quite breathtaking, this small sovereign country set in a bay with cliffs as its backdrop. Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse and we decided to purchase a couple of umbrellas on the way to Monaco castle, to see the changing of the guards.
Being so compact, Monaco is very easy to navigate and we had no problems finding the places we wanted to visit. My mother in law said the changing of the guard at The Prince’s Palace was a must see. To get to the palace we walked up a long, steep narrow pathway right to the top. It was such a fantastic view of Monaco, it was well worth the walk up to the top. Lotta loved the ascent with plenty of new smells and a few places to stop and relieve herself. She wasn’t however very pleased to see all the people also waiting to watch the changing of the guard. We waited patiently in the ‘Place de Palais’ with anticipation admiring the view of the yachts below and the stationary canons that once guarded the palace. At five minutes to twelve the action started. If you have seen the changing guard of Buckingham palace, this is of no comparison, but never the less a must see if you are visiting the country.
The palace village is very quaint with its own narrow pedestrianized streets and touristy shops and cafes. The architecture is beautiful with vibrant colours, I particularly liked the mirrored windows of some of the palace buildings in the courtyard. Lotta seemed to enjoy the spectacular views from the top as well. From here we walked through the quaint little streets and made our way down to the main city. We walked through the harbour to see the spectacular yachts on show. I knew the yachts were big but some of them were so ridiculously huge, they had another smaller yacht inside them! I was in awe of what I saw but at the same time quite sickened to see such absurd riches when we have so much poverty and hunger in the world.
Next on the agenda was the famous ‘Casino Monte Carlo’ that once featured in the 1995 James Bond movie ‘Golden Eye’ with Pierce Brosnan. We made our way through the harbour up to the Casino, walking through the tunnel where the formula 1 drivers have a chance to over take and up the steep windy hill to the casino. Walking the track you can fully appreciate the skill of the formula 1 drivers who have to navigate their way through a pretty treacherous track. Once there you are greeted with the most expensive and extravagant cars imaginable from Porsches to Mercedes to Lamborghinis, you can see them all parked in and around the casino. In the centre is a huge mirror centered in a park with a grassy area. Here you can find a hotel and restaurants and cafes but be sure to take enough money with you or your credit card!
We had a fantastic day out, luckily we chose a day where it was a little bit cooler otherwise I think it would have been too hot for Lotta. Dogs are very welcome in Monaco although some of the gardens, dogs are prohibited. Would I go back? At the time I said no but I may be tempted back again someday and visit the casino and some of the museums. If I won the lottery I would definitely visit with my yacht!
Josie & Lotta