Living the High Life for a Couple of Days

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Feb 20, 2014

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Flag of Monaco  ,
Saturday, June 11, 2011

The last couple of days has been excessive, overindulgent, exorbitant...and fantastic fun with lasting memories. I got up early on my first full day so I could utilise my free access into the Monte Carlo Spa and Fitness Club. Had a swim in the heated pool that overlooks the main Monaco Harbour, then the steam room and I lasted nearly 10 minutes in the 95C sauna! I've done longer in previous saunas, but this was all before 10 am and I am not a morning person for anything, especially exercise and being cooked in an oven. Had a fantastic breakfast on the hotel roof overlooking the bay. 38 euro for breaky which is insane, but everything u could ever hope for was available in the buffet and having not eaten much fruit in the last 5 weeks, I lapped it up. Fantastic service too. Then I hopped on the free shuttle service down to the Monte Carlo Beach Club where I had another freebie (all this free stuff is because I am staying at a ridiculously expensive hotel – I did not realise all this stuff was free when I booked, so it really was a surprise bonus). The beach club is normally...wait for it...65 euro entry on a weekday, 80 on a weekend – for just 1 day!! that’s $88 aussie to use a pool and maybe swim in the ocean (1 euro = $1.35 Aus)! Beautiful spot tho, and obviously very exclusive. The photos say it all, so I won’t describe it too much. Oh and as I’m leaving, this amazing Rolls Royce pulls up. Simply incredible place. And then there is me, getting on the free shuttle...hahaha.

I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story of my day. I bought a few souvenirs, including a really awesome lighter that is shaped like a casino gaming chip. I then got a text from Tish saying they had checked in and were ready to meet! Yay.

They met at my palace, I mean, hotel and we strolled around to the key touristy places that I had been avoiding because I knew I would go there with Tish and Kieran. Their hotel is just below mine. It was really great to see some familiar faces and the 1st time I have been overseas with friends (apart from Bali which was mostly family). And to not eat dinner alone! I’m so happy that we were able to meet up, and at such an awesome place. Got ripped off something cruel at their hotel bar (7 euro for a coke to go with Kieran’s 15 euro jack daniels! And my 250ml beer was 12 euro).  

The next day, I caught a bus to the shopping district and then met T&K at the Palace to watch the changing of the guard which occurs at 1155 every morning. Not a massive spectacle like the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, but everything in Monaco is on a micro scale, but still impressive. Walked the streets of the Old Town and had a look thru the Cathedral where Princess Grace got married and is buried. Really nice gothic style cathedral and in very good condition. Then we toured the State Rooms of the Palace for 8 euro. Again, much smaller compared to other European Palaces, but still decorated with gold trimming and amazing ceiling paintings. No photos allowed, but I found it all quite interesting  as u have an electronic audio guide as u tour that gives the history and description. They are setting up for Prince Alberts' wedding, which is 1-2 July, so lots of tradesman setting up floorboards etc in the Palace courtyard. I hadn’t done the Palace or Cathedral tour on my previous trip in 2009, so it was great to do it this time.

T&K had driven their hired Mercedes to the Palace, so we jumped in that and went for a spin up the coast and then up the mountains to view down on the coast. The panoramas are amazing, and I felt very fortunate to not only have friends with me, but ones with a car! And Kieran as a driver who is brave enough to take on the roads. I shut my eyes a few times thinking we were either going to get side-swiped by a bus/truck or cascade over the edge of the cliff. Mum – u would’ve vomited for sure.

We ate a 'casual’ dinner before getting ready for a night out on the Monaco town. I had free entry to the main Monte Carlo casino (normally is 10 euro). Several rooms were open inside the casino that were not open on my previous visit, so it was good to have a look about and admire the ceilings and decorations (no photos permitted). Drinks are insanely priced – 25 euro for 1 scotch and coke. But on a gambling side I actually was up after playing roulette. So that was good. We visited another casino and wrapped up the night about 2 am. Good fun!

In between all this, I had been thinking about how to get from Monaco back to Nice in time for my 1030 flight to Athens. The hotel advised to leave 3 hrs before departure if catching the train. That would leave me with only a few hrs sleep and then from the train stn u have to bus to the airport – painful. So I enquired about getting a chauffeur driver to take me to the Nice airport (40 min journey). BUT, to my amazing surprise, a helicopter to the airport is cheaper and only 7 minutes! So, in a moment of reckless splurge (but somewhat sensible decision making aided by Tish’s encouragement), I paid the 110 euro to get a chopper to the airport. Boy was I glad when I could sleep in a bit and then have a driver pick me up from the front of the hotel at 835am to go to the heliport. The ride was smooth, great views of the coast, with 5 other people, luggage checked-in by the helicopter company and I reckon less than 5 minutes in the air. I have been in a helicopter once before at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, but it was a complete blur because I was so busy taking photos. This time, even tho it was much shorter, I could soak it in. The minor throbbing of my head from the night before went away for those few minutes as I lived the high-life.

And that brings me to now. I wrote most of this on the plane to Athens and now finishing it off in the hotel because a thunderstorm is currently thrashing Athens. I hope it eases soon so I can finish exploring. Man, I have not been blessed with good weather this trip like I was in Oct 2009, but I’ll make use of this time to connect to the free hotel wireless internet and check a few my bank balance! I’ll update the Greece blog in a day or two dependent on internet availability and time as I progress thru the TopDeck tour. But all good so far. I’m sharing a room with 2 other Australian blokes. Good people, total group of 16. I hope and pray for good weather on the islands! Au revoir. 
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Kaz on

Wow...Oh my.... by reading & seeing this I can hear how much fun you've had :) Sounds like an amazing few days. Beautiful hotel. I would've loved the Mercedes spin up the coast and the helicopter ride...nice! Good on ya & why not when you can :) Hope your tour is just as much fun xo

globalchild on

you, my cousin, are living the dream of every teenage girl ever. So many pretty things! The buildings looks wonderful. <3

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