In my last post, M1626 – Peach Elba, I described my all to brief visit to the lovely Italian island of Elba. Early the next morning we sailed into our fourth country in as many days, albeit a tiny one – the Principality of Monaco.
Monaco has an area of just 2.02 square kilometres making it the second smallest country in the world, after the Vatican City, and it’s population of 37,800 makes it the most densely populated country. It is of course famous for being the playground of the rich and famous, with it’s Monte Carlo Casino, a harbour full of luxury yachts and it’s streets being used for perhaps the most iconic Formula 1 race of the season.
This was my first visit to Monaco, and I was intrigued to find out just what it was like, and also to see for real some of the iconic parts for the Formula 1 circuit.
We approached the Principality early in the morning – it was yet another lovely bright clear sunny day, and all the buildings crammed so closely together looked amazing in the wonderful light, especially the Casino:
We very slowly and carefully reversed into our berth alongside the harbour wall. This was as well as these beautiful but rather expensive looking numbers were moored up behind us:
The ship’s shore tour I had selected in Monaco did not leave until early afternoon, so I had the morning free to go ashore and explore with my trusty camera. Leaving the ship I needed to walk around the harbour, passing underneath the Royal Palace:
My planned walk was slightly thrown by the unexpected discovery of a large funfair blocking off a lot of the quayside (for F1 fans in the swimming pool area), so I ended up walking the F1 circuit in the reverse direction. On my way around I came across several sculptures of former F1 cars:
Having walked through the tunnel under the hotel, I emerged to find a sculpture which immediately brought back memories of a similar but larger one I had seen thousands of miles away in Punta Del Este, Uruguay. A quick bit of research online back on the ship later confirmed that they are indeed by the same artist. The one on the left is the one in Monaco, the one on the right in Uruguay:
By now the temperature was rising, so I was delighted to unexpectedly find myself in the Jardin Japonais – a municipal park in the form of a stylised Japanese garden. It provided an oasis of peace and coolness in the heat and bustle of the Principality:
Leaving the park, I walked past Rolls Royce, Ferrari and Bentley showrooms all next to each other on my way back to pick up the F1 circuit. I couldn’t decide which make and model to go for, so decided to leave it for now 😉
After climbing the steep hill that the cars descend, near the hairpin bend I decided to leave the circuit, and climb some steps which would take me up to see the Casino building at close hand:
Having walked around three sides of the Casino building I found myself in the Casino Square, where the use of spherical mirrors caught my eye:
The nearby Theatre was also an impressive building:
As I left the Casino Square, I was surprised and amused to spot a Smart car parked amongst the expected Rolls Royces and other expensive numbers:
I walked down the hill that the F1 cars climb up to reach the Casino, I passed some rooftop gardens, where a bloom and a sculpture caught my eye, as well as an impressive hotel building high above the road:
At the bottom of the hill I noticed this small church, but did not have time to investigate it as I needed to hurry back to the ship for lunch ahead of my afternoon tour
For F1 fans, here are some pictures of the track that I took (shown in the normal direction of travel). Walking the track, I was very aware that the bends were much sharper and particularly the inclines were much steeper than I had realised from the television pictures:
My walkabout had been very enjoyable, and it was an eye-opener to see all the large and expensive yachting the harbour, and all the good looking and stylish people walking about. It was clear you needed to be a winner in life to live there, possibly on it’s Formula 1 circuit.
The ship’s tour I took from Monaco that afternoon will be the subject of my next post.