Saturday, November 30, 2013

Monte Carlo...the Town the Grimaldi Family Built and Grace Kelly Made Famous

Sailing from Livorno, Italy, our ship arrived in Monte Carlo the next day in stunningly warm and summer-like weather on the last day of October.  As we approached the French Riviera, the tiny Principality of Monaco with 32,000 citizens was packed into 473 acres (7/10 of a mile) of mostly high rise apartments climbing up from the sea.  This is the smallest nation in the world and has been ruled by the Grimaldi Family since the 13th century.  It became a famous place when the adored American actress, Grace Kelly, wed Prince Ranier of Monaco in 1956.  After their story book wedding, Prince Ranier was responsible for restoring the glamor and attraction of the lack-luster gambling haven when he abolished all taxes creating a premier tax haven for the world's wealthiest citizens.

Approaching Monaco on October 31, 2013 

The Casino of Monte Carlo as viewed from the sea
Bob, me, and Sharon
We were docked by 6:45AM and would have 10 hours to explore the area.  Ron and I, along with our friends, Sharon and Bob, decided to purchase a ticket on the Hop On Hop Off Tourist Bus for a cost of 18 euro each.  We sat up on the open upper deck and took in the sites of this luxurous little town.

A lot of expensive yachts were in the harbor
Prince's Palace
We got off at the Prince's Palace at old Monaco Ville or Le Rocher.  Sharon walked down to the Cathedral while Ron, Bob and I enjoyed the beautiful view from a cafe high above the sea and the Port of Fontvielle.  Monaco built this port and neighborhood of Fontvielle by reclaiming land from the sea.


Beautiful MonacoVille houses and streets

The Cathedral of St. Nicholas where Princess Grace is buried

We watched the pagentry of the Changing of the Guards at the Prince's Palace

These guards are all very tall, at least 6'6" each, I think

The Palace they are guarding

Gardens above Fontvielle

Beautiful location above the sea

...and Ron waiting for our Hop On Bus to continue our tour

This is the view of the newer city of Monte Carlo from Le Rocher

There is our ship among all the yachts
The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco


...are everywhere

Outdoor Market

Cars are small in Europe
 We next got off at the old Monte Carlo Casino.  We had lunch at the Cafe Paris where Ron enjoyed fresh oysters on the half shell and I had French onion soup, then we all did a bit of gambling.  Ron beat the House at the Casino of Mone Carlo playing Black Jack, taking home 50 euro!

The famous Cafe de Paris

The famous Hotel de Paris where rooms start at 540 euro per night

The Casino at Monte Carlo

We headed back to our ship, ready to set sail at 6PM for our next port of call: Marseille, France
Our ship, the MS Ryndam, docked at the harbor of Monte Carlo
That evening, to celebrate Halloween, a lot of the crew were dressed up in costume.  It was "Fomal Night" for dining and the dining stewards greeted you with their hillbilly and vampire teeth.  Our favorite piano bar performer, Jamm the Piano Man, was barely dressed in a bedsheet for a toga.

Jamsheed Master
Jamm is a truly talented pianist, composer and singer who plays over 3000 songs by ear.  We spent many a night on board listening to his wonderful repertoire.

Here he is playing New York, New York on a previous Holland America cruise:

Ron and I very much enjoyed our evening in the Piano Bar listening to all the wonderful music.

Jamm the Piano Man

Next stop: Marseille, France.

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