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Monaco - A travel report by Hugh
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Monaco,  Monaco - flag Monaco
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horourke's travel reports

The Fourth Dimension

  6 votes
We arrived by train. Much reading and expectation had prepared us for the taxi stand with the telephone number on the ramp to the car-park within the railway station complex. From there on the story unfolded rapidly and surprisingly.

The Courts
The Courts
Emerging from the chrysalis of the tunneled railway entrance to Monaco, the height of everything makes an unforgettable impact. Twenty story towers are normal with elevators linking the various levels of this less than square mile (1.6km squared) independent Nation. "The adage You can fly but this chrysalis has to go" is a phrase that comes to mind. The extraordinary impact of material wealth concentrated here in this regulatory welcoming haven is balanced by the environmental gems of the Institut Oceanographique and the Exotic Gardens.

The aquarium within the institute is almost a dimension in itself. This a long established and vibrant display of interesting and immensly colourful sea creatures

The visit is not all plain sailing for the arthritically challenged, with the cave in the Exotic Gardens facilitated by the most taciturn and un-energetic guide we have experienced in our aggregate of fourteen countries and fifty locations.

This is a country well organized to receive tourists and confident in its ability to attract.

Prices are generally reasonable on a day trip except for soft drinks for which you must pay roughly twice the price of other places along the Riviera coast.

A few hours can be filled very completely with a variety of Palace, Museum, aquarium and street train experiences.

The harbor holds ocean-going yachts, beneath the exotic gardens a limestone cave holds stalactites tens of thousands of years in formation. On every level of the meaning of dimension, this city and state stretches the mind.

Favourite spots:
the royal palace
the royal palace
The three awesome locations for us were the Museum of Prince Albert, the Institut Oceanographique and the Exotic Gardens.

In the museum we saw original letters written by Oliver Cromwell and Cardinal Richelieu as well as a communication making reference to a Femme Morganatique.

One wall is covered by a diagramatic representation of the Grimaldi dynasty family tree. We were a little disappointed that our Princess of Irish ancestry - Princess Grace , Mother of the incumbent Monarch, while faithfully represented by the Kelly coat of arms is a little played down in the orchestration of the centuries old history of this somewhat independent principality which may revert to French rule in the absence of a male heir to the throne.

Displays in the aquarium of the Institut Oceanographique must be seen to know their impact which is delivered by martinet attention to detail and scientific analysis. The Exotic Gardens are described below

What's really great:
Exotic Gardens
Exotic Gardens
The taxi service from the railway station to the Royal Palace worked perfectly. We came to the Riviera to see in particular this country where the fairy tale of a commoner actress (albeit the daughter of a millionaire family in an era when a million dollars was a lot of money) Grace Kelly, won the heart of and married the prince who became ruler of this land was realized.

The prospect of Arthritically, exploring outside an unfamiliar railway station was for us daunting and therefore we avoided it. From the web we knew that a phone call from the taxi rank was a good way of reaching the palace. Despite our awfully bad French speaking ability, a friendly and reasonably priced ( ten euros) taxi arrived within six minutes of our call.

On our ascent through more than four dimensions (buildings and cliffs and seven centuries of royal rule) we saw a public bus labeled for "Exotic Gardens"

Our friendly taxi driver explained the destination of this bus route which we took later in the day

modern buildings seen from the palace
modern buildings seen from the palace
Everywhere you go and everywhere you look there is a sight. The royal palace, the courts building, the cathedral and the aquarium are each spectacular.
The Prince has a policy of encouraging arts in many way and on our visit Damien Hirst works were the focus of attention. You need to have a specific interest in the artist to appreciate his work fully!!

Marine Institute
Marine Institute
Before we traveled from Ireland we did a little web search of hotels in Monaco. The impression we formed was that the costs were outside our ability to pay even before the IMF had to be called together with the friendly United Kingdom to assist our nation. We therefore set up our base across the Italian border in Sanremo and cannot comment on how you might fare for overnight accommodation in Monaco.

near and far
near and far
Advertised excursions to "Monaco by Night from Sanremo where we had our hotel did not operate because of insufficient demand. This is a consideration when visiting popular tourist areas in off peak times. We would take this into consideration more fully in future holiday plans

Opposite Palace - our restaurant visible beneath arch
Opposite Palace - our restaurant visible beneath arch
During daylight hours there is much coming and going of tourists particularly near the Courts / Cathedral buildings and outside the Institut Oceanographique. The atmosphere is very pleasant and lively. The street train which gives a fairly comprehensive tour of the city starts from and returns to here

surprising colours
surprising colours
Just off the palace square we found an excellent place for lunch. It was welcoming with excellent food, reasonable prices and seating alfresco in what was evidently once a cloister. The one jarring note was the price of canned chilled lemon tea. Had we been more vigilant in reading the menu we could have avoided this surprise. There must be a special tax on such items in Monaco as the price was more than twice the norm in cafes along the Italian Riviera.

Other recommendations:
sport stadium
sport stadium
In the square before the aquarium you can board the street train that will bring you on a comprehensive tour of the city,
The casino is a curiosity more notable for its reputation than architecture.
The Exotic gardens are magnificent. A public bus service (one of a total of two routes in the country) will bring you safely from the palace square to the welcoming entrance to this cactus paradise. The extra attraction of the cave tour within the gardens is to be judiciously approached. If you are young, agile and French speaking - GO FOR IT. otherwise sit and meditate and catch the bus home in due time.

Published on Tuesday November 23th, 2010

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Sun, Aug 07 2011 - 04:49 AM rating by farnaz

Few days ago watchin Albert & charline's wedding,i bacem interested in monacco.what a lovely place and what a nice report of the place in here!

Sat, Dec 04 2010 - 12:38 PM rating by mistybleu

I would just love to go to Monaco, just for a long weekend. Thanks for publishing such an interesting report.

Thu, Nov 25 2010 - 10:22 AM rating by bootlegga

Great report - it makes me want to go to Monaco.

Tue, Nov 23 2010 - 07:20 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Excellent report!
You give good advice about places to visit.

Tue, Nov 23 2010 - 07:11 PM rating by murrayskinner

This is a great report. Well done with lot's of information. think Monaco might be out of my price bracket and a little busy than where I just posted a report from. Have a look!

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