Thursday, May 12, 2016

Saturday, Sunday - April 9-10, 2016 – Monte Carlo, Monaco–70s

Distance from Le Seyne Sur Mer, France to Monte Carlo, Monaco: 115 Nautical Miles

Pilot Distance: 198 Miles

Total Voyage: 4,904 Nautical Miles; 5,639 Statute Miles

Like many recent itineraries, Crystal Symphony will spend a day in Monte Carlo before completing this cruise.  I am just going to include some of the sights of this interesting area.

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Sunrise in Monte Carlo

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Getting the City Ready for the Monaco Grand Prix

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Expensive Real Estate in Monaco

The plaque signifying the tragic car accident that killed Princess Grace is not actually located at the crash site.

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Roadside Memorial to Grace Kelly

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The Hilltop City of Eze

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Nice (France) Harbor

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Elton John Lives on the Top of the Hill in Nice

The Palace of Monaco sits on a hill overlooking the Bay of Monaco.  Locals calls the location “The Rock”.  The Rock contains a number of interesting buildings and attractions.

The Oceanography Museum contains an iconic object (right out of a Beatle’s tune).

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Jacques Cousteau’s Yellow Submarine

The St. Nicholas Cathedral of Monaco contains the graves of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.

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Prince Rainier Tomb

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Princess Grace Tomb

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The Palace

A monument, installed in 1914, from Monaco’s foreign residents to Prince Albert I on the occasion of the 25th year of his reign, sits on a patio with a great view of the Monaco Harbor.

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Monaco Harbor from the Rock

From the Symphony’s Open Deck, you can also see just about all of Monaco.

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Croc Cam – Monaco

After dinner, we went out on the warm open deck – perfect for some evening pictures of Monaco and the harbor.

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Showtime tonight was a variety show involving “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago” (almost all the ships do this number).

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We went to the Avenue Saloon to hear Mark Farris’ farewell session – we requested “Hallelujah” but Mark got so involved with the audience that he didn’t get to the song.  Maybe next time.

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Disembarkation Day

The dreariness of yesterday has given way to a wonderful sunny and bright day today.  I took the opportunity to take some final pictures of the beautiful country of Monaco.

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Panoramic Shot of Monaco and the Harbor

Ellen and I had breakfast together for the first time on this cruise.  The first and last breakfasts were equally delicious and it was not as crowded as I thought it might be.  We have a late exit time so we don’t have to rush.  There is no walk-off on Crystal at this port.  There is also no Passport Control here, as well, so disembarkation is pretty smooth.

Our plan today is to take the train from Monaco to Nice, where we are going to spend a few days.  We were told that the walk from the ship to the nearest train station was short – only about 10 minutes.  Turns out that the walk was a bit longer and involved some stairs (not easy when you are pulling three heavy wheelies).  While most of the pier area was pretty blah, there was one interesting bar called “Grab the Bull By the Horns” complete with a ceramic bull.

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We were a bit whipped when we got to the train station – fortunately then had escalators to get us to the correct level to catch our train.  The fair was an incredible 3 Euros per person.  Working together to decipher the schedules (and getting a little help from a local), we made our way to the tracks and caught our train to Nice.  We could not make out what the electronic station announcer was saying but we knew when we heard Nice-Centre Ville, it would be time to get off.

The train ride was short – 25 or so minutes – and we were in Nice, the Capitol of the French Riviera.  I did notice something very interesting on the sidewalk next to the tracks.  Now that’s a good idea (below).

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Not the Tracks of My Tears

At the last minute, I changed our reservations from the Mercure Hotel-Notre Dame to the Ibis Styles Hotel on Avenue Durante (to get the credit toward a free night).  We stopped in the Tourist office at the Train Station to get directions – the street was right there and the walk to the hotel took just about 10 minutes (and was downhill). 

The Hotel was just renovated last July and was in super spiffy condition.  It had a quirky, playful, décor and the staff was very young and super friendly.  Everyone spoke perfect English. 

Our room, 416, was very quiet even though there were families with small children on either side of us.  Don’t understand how that worked out.  We had a comfortable bed, a spacious bathroom, a HUGE shower, and an effective and quiet air conditioner.  Bottled water is supplied by the hotel.  It was a terrific deal.

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Room 416


Indoor Dining Area


Outdoor Dining Area

The change in hotels turned out to be a good call since the Ibis Styles Hotel is an easy walk to anywhere in Nice.  Since it was early in the day, we headed out to see the town and the beach area.  We were fueled by sweet rolls we found in the lobby.  That would have to do until dinner.

Our first stop was “La Place Massena”, the main square in the city.  Named after a military leader, the square is the jump point for nearby parks and monuments.  It also has a train running right along the main street.

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Place Messina


Statue of Andre Messina (1869)


Multiple Water Fountains

The centerpiece of Place Messina is the 23 foot tall statue of Apollo in the “Fontaine du Soleil".  Apollo, wearing a funky crown of four horses, is surrounded by five bronze statues representing Earth, Mars, Mercury, Venus and Saturn.  A center of controversy when first installed (too much Apollo for the locals) in 1956, the statue has undergone corrective surgery a few times and then finally removed from the fountain.  He was restored to his spot in 2011. 

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Apollo and the Fountain du Soleil

We spotted a Subway near the fountain (for future reference).  Looking away from the statue, you can see the Mediterranean Sea.

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The Rusty Monument “Gracing” the Beach Area

It was a warm enough day that people were out at the beach.  There is little sand – mostly pebbles – but residents have figured out how to deal with the beach.  The blue of the sky and the sea were almost the same shade. 

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The Beautiful Beach at Nice

There are benches further up the beach but we sat on the end of the promenade overhanging the sand and surf.

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Ellen Looks Comfy

In the mid to late 1800s, Nice was very popular with the English.  The English visitors decided to build a wide walkway along the beachfront – to see the water and sand and still enjoy ease of strolling.  It became the “Promenade des Anglais”.

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The Famed Promenade des Anglais

From the beach, we headed back toward the statue of Apollo.  Along the way, we came across a prairie like garden area.

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A building adjacent to the garden had the most amazing mural on the wall facing the promenade.  It was so real that I climbed to the side of the building to make sure the windows were actually painted.  They were.  Check out the masterpiece below. 

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As we made our way to Place Messina, we came across another fountain.  This one emitted steam and was quite spectacular.

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We were now on the lookout for a place for dinner so we turned onto the pedestrian walkway.  This street, which ran from Place Messina to our street, was filled primarily with Pizza restaurants.  Marguerite Pizzas ran about 9 Euros.  The problem was not the price but the smokers.  We wanted to eat outside and people watch but the only place without smokers was inside the restaurants.  We kept looking.

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Pedestrian Walkway – In Search of Dinner

Not being able to find a suitable place on the Walkway, we continued into a different neighborhood – mostly Middle Eastern.  We settled on sharing a falafel plate at the Istanbul Falafel Restaurant.  The food was not what we were used to but it was OK – the biggest expense, as it is in all restaurants, is the drinks (3-4 Euros).  It’s that or the water so the choice was easy.


Having Falafel in Nice

Then it was back to the hotel to wind down – quite a day in Nice.

We are hoping that the room will be quiet.

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