9 Hours: Monte Carlo, Eze, Nice, & VillefrancheAuthor: PenelopeCorelli (More Trip Reviews by PenelopeCorelli)
Date of Trip: July 2009
Continuation of our Mediterranean cruise: Wednesday, July 8: Monte Carlo, Monaco
We went on deck to watch the scenery along the Cote d' Azur. Got tender tickets & got off the ship about noon. The tender holds 80 (the sign says 120). Many passengers were still in line to turn in their passports -- which we did earlier at breakfast.
Got off the tender after a bumpy ride and got directions from the tourist office nearby & another map (which wasn't particularly useful.) Walked to the Bateau Bus and took a boat across the harbor (€1 each). We could have walked all the way around the harbor, but it's a long walk. We looked for the elevators, but didn't find them (we didn't have the map with us that showed exactly where they were.) We walked uphill quite a way, asked directions several times, and then found the bus stop, where we waited for the #112 bus to Eze & Nice (€1 each). By then we were hot and dripping from the walking up and down hills and stairs. Thankfully the bus had A/C, so we were able to cool down. We stopped at Eze, a medieval French village that's a nice tourist area with cafes & shops. We got a map of the town at the tourist office (there are also public bathrooms there). Walked uphill -- of course! -- to the church. Lovely views. BTW, halfway up the hill is a defibrillator! We have a photo of it.
We sat at a cafe and had two ham & cheese crepes & a Grand Marnier crepe (€6.50 each), water (free), and 3 "boules" of ice cream. (Total = €30).
They had Internet access, so we sent an email, using our phone (World Phone Nokia E71x -- ATT), which we bought for the trip. It was the most useful purchase we made, not because of the ability to read & send emails, which we rarely did, but because in it we had downloaded bus schedules, itineraries, & walking tours -- everything we needed to get around was on this phone. How different is travel today from what it was just a few years ago! We made sure to charge it daily at night, and had an extra fully charged battery with us. The charger could use either electrical current, as did the camera charger, but it was essential to have an adapter, and sometimes we used the converter. Some of the 220 plugs in the land hotels were deeply inset, so only the converter attachment would fit it.
We then walked around the picturesque narrow streets with shops, ironwork, bougainvillea, and arches. The stone streets had brick paths in the center. The stone was quite slippery; the brick wasn't -- but there were steps where there was no brick, and passing other tourists in the narrow streets made walking in the center not always possible.
Took the bus from there on to Nice (€1 each again) because it did not stop at Villefranche. A noisy, crowded city, from what we could see, but there was a whole area of shops. We met a nice Canadian tourist who used to live in Nice, and he directed us to a fabric store, where I purchased 2 meters of Provençal fabric at €9.50/meter & a sachet of lavender. Lots of items sold on the streets using the distinctive fabrics, selling for higher prices. Found a jewelry store with some lovely earrings & jewelry. Bought 3 pair of earrings and a ring - €33 total.
Nice is nice to shop -- very reasonable prices on lots of popular items. People living in the nearby towns shop here, especially those living in Monte Carlo!
We walked to the bus stop and got the #100 bus to Villefranche (€1). A woman on the bus helped us find our stop. It was a very restful area after frenzied Nice. A whole different feel to it. Walked around the streets and stopped at a cafe for a lemonade soda & iced coffees. Tried to use the WiFi, but it didn't work.
Found Rue Obscure in the old section of the town and trod the ancient walkways. It was very interesting, like an underground city. From there we walked to the train station.
There we had a problem with tickets, because the machine only took coins or credit cards, no € bills. We didn't have enough coins for the three of us, and the credit cards didn't work in the machines, for some reason. A security guard was working there who helped us with the machine. Since it wasn't going to get us the tickets, he got the train agent on the train to let us on -- and we then paid her with € bills. Whew!
After arriving back at Monte Carlo, we walked through a park with lots of flying bird statues and decorated hawk statues. We walked toward the casino, looking to stop at the famous Cafe de Paris -- and there it was, with lots of tables and chairs outside. We sat down and took a few photos. No one had come by yet to take our order, so Jim thought that since we had photos, why not leave and save the money -- as we didn't really want anything in particular. I said I wanted a coaster -- a favorite souvenir of the place, so we found one yet "unbussed" table, and I removed a couple of the unsoiled paper coasters! Probably saved $50!
Since we were still on the hill, we tried to find a way down to the lower street level. We walked through the hotel, but there was no exit from the basement level. We finally found a stairway down from the outside parking lot. We had a long way back to the Bateau Bus. But when we arrived, we found we had missed the 7:45pm bus by five minutes -- and it was the last boat of the day. So we had to walk around the harbor. We got on the tender and had a smooth return ride to the ship. One well-dressed couple and their family (he had been to the Casino) had spent over $100 at the Cafe de Paris for wine and sodas. (It must have been an expensive wine!) I checked on the website, and prices don't appear to be exorbitantly high, but as we didn't get anything, we don't really know.
The day was a wonderfully busy one, but the hours of walking and the heat left us totally exhausted.
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