October 2022: Visiting every country wasn’t always my goal but over the years I realized it is suddenly possible and I am actually within reach of accomplishing something I never thought possible. So, this quest has brought me to countries like Monaco that I never really had an interest in visiting before. Don’t get me wrong I believe that every country is interesting in its own way, but I have always put most of my effort into the more adventurous places like Africa, Asia and South America. But now here I am only 10 or so countries away from my goal of 193 and this brought me to Monaco. 

About Monaco

Monaco is a constitutional monarch with a prince at its helm that is tucked away in France and sits on the Mediterranean Sea on the French Riviera. it is the 2nd smallest country aside from the Vatican and it is known as one of the wealthiest countries with the highest number of millionaires per capita.  Almost everyone drives a Mercedes or Porshe. It is known for its luxury, glitz and glamour but what a lot of people don’t realize is that it actually has a pretty wild mountain range behind it with good hiking opportunities. It is because of these mountains that Monaco was isolated from nearby bigger city Nice and was a relatively undeveloped outpost in the 1800’s until a proper road could be built. Now days Monaco is wealthy and because it has a 0 percent income tax, it is used as a tax haven by many of Europe’s wealthy.

Map of Monaco

To get to Monaco, we flew direct from Barcelona Spain to Nice, France. my plan was to visit Monaco on a day trip and then fly to Sicily in the evening and spend a few days exploring Sicily, a place which had more appeal to me. When we landed in Nice, we left out luggage at a left luggage office at the airport and conveniently at the same office we purchased bus tickets to go to Monaco, approx. 30-40 minutes away. The bus is by far the cheapest way to visit Monaco. The drive along the rigged mountainous coastline through a few tunnels was beautiful and we passed small coastline villages that looked interesting to explore. Entering Monaco was a traffic jam due to the high percentage of Monaco residents that commute to France to work.  Monaco it was a lot busier and bigger of a city than I expected.

Monaco

We decided to get off the bus at what is maybe Monaco’s most famous attraction, the world-famous Monte Carlo casino. Since most of the restaurants were not open yet, we ate at the ultra-expensive cafe across the street from the casino. Monaco is one of the most expensive countries and this is no lie. Prices were steep and our little snack at the cafe easily cost over a 100 Euro. 

Paula and her mom at the cafe

Monte Carlo

Lucky for us the Euro was on par with the dollar for the first time in ages. The Monte Carlo Casino is the post card image of opulence and the rich and famous. It is well known in James Bond Movies and Oceans 11 with Brad Bitt and George Cloonie. Even though I was dressed in my usual travel attire and looked more ready to begin a hike in the mountains than enter the Monte Carlo casino, we decided to visit the casino anyways. I figured I would be denied entry but shockingly I wasn’t, and we were allowed to walk inside and have a peek. The game room was cordoned off and this was the area that had a dress code and had an entrance fee, so we opted not to go to the game room.

 The game room is where the big action is. Even though it isn’t very large, there are tables where players commonly play 150,000-dollar minimum hands. As we sat at the cafe across the street from the Monte Carlo, I watched as one Lamborghini and Porshe after another pulled up to the Monte Carlo. I wondered if they would allow me to park my rusty 20-year-old beat up For Ranger in the front.

Monte Carlo Casino

Monte Carlo Interior-bar area closed off only vailable for special events

Monte Carlo statue that greets you at the entrance

Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo and Mountain Backdrop

I enjoyed the coastal walk outside of the Monte Carlo the best with views of the sweeping mountains and harbor along with the 100-million-dollar yachts parked in the harbor. 

Yachts in the harbor

Monaco Wildlife

 After visiting for the day, we headed back to the Nice airport and caught our flight to Sicily. If I had more time in Monaco, I definitely would have ventured into the hiking trails of the coastal mountains behind the city.

14 + 13 =

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