Monday, June 30, 2008

Friend in Nice

Day 111
After another cold shower I was definitely wide awake and ready to go. I was headed to Monaco, a country the size of Central Park. The train wasn't air conditioned and there was no first class. This is simply not the way I travel.

Some girls at the hostel had given me a map so I didn't need to find the tourist office and was able to hit the ground running. I headed straight up to the Prince's Palace, but it wasn't opened yet. I had about 45 minutes to kill so I grabbed a cappuccino. This didn't quite fill the time though, so I went to the Cathedral instead.

This cathedral is where American actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainer in 1956. Outside of the cathedral were pictures of their wedding. In fact, all over Monaco were pictures of Grace Kelly in the same spot, it was kinda cool. Princess Grace was killed in a car accident in 1982, Prince Rainer died in 2005. They are buried besides each other and about 32 other generations of Grimaldi princes.

Once I was back at the palace I was delighted to find out that a free audio guide came with the ticket. I just wasn't allowed to take pictures. More impressive than the stately rooms was the crash course in Monegasque history. In the 15th century the Grimaldi family took control of Monaco. The title of prince was not used until 1612. The palace, which began as a fortress, is still occupied by the royal family. The 15 or so rooms that I was able to see were decorated with various period themes in mind. They had an interesting feel because the artwork was both French and Italian and therefore in rather conflicting styles. Monaco is basically protected by France under the Treaty of Peron, in fact, even the police are French citizens. One of the many portraits was of Prince Rainer, Princess Grace and their three children circa 1981.

Next to the palace and included in the ticket was a small history museum and a display on Napoleonic stuff. Why it was here, I don't know. They had wall paper from the jail cell Louis XVI was kept in before his death as well as several of Napoleon's hats. The history bit wasn't very interesting. I just had a lot of metals from various orders and wooden figures. Not sure why.

Still wanting to know more about Monaco's history I headed to the Monaco Story movie. I was the only person there at that time so they couldn't run it, however I was able to ask a few of the questions that I was most interested in. Basically Monaco was neutral during WWII and only pulled in due to their relationship with France. No on from Monaco fought, however some bombs were dropped on the town.

There wasn't really anything else I was interested in other than checking out the Monte Carlo Casino, the source of Monaco's wealth. I was way under dressed and really sweaty so I couldn't get it, but I could admire it from the outside. It was quite a building.

At this point I had to get back to Nice so that I would be on time to meet Lauren to go swimming. Unfortunately, she had not known that she would have classes in the afternoons. However, she snuck away to let me know so that we could push back our plans.

With my free afternoon I went to the supermarket and spent some more time at the Internet cafe. For whatever reason I was having an awful time getting the pictures off the memory card from paragliding. The people at the Internet cafe were really nice and it took all three of us to figure out the problem. By the time I left the pictures were ready to go.

At 6pm it was still warm and light out and I was definitely ready for a dip in the Mediterranean. Lauren met me at the corner and we walked about 20 minutes to the beach. We spent about an hour or so floating and chatting. Some nearby Spanish boys kept taking each others trunks off. Suddenly Lauren screamed and told me that something had bit her. Right away we started moving towards the shore. Lauren was much faster than me and I trailed behind. Once we were on the rocks (no sand here) we could tell that she had been stung by a jelly fish. I didn't even know they had those here. We sat and dried off for a while. Neither of us really felt like getting back in the water. When it started getting cold we headed back. Before we parted ways we made plans to meet up for Friday night. It was really nice to have a friend in Nice!

After washing away the salt water in my first hot shower in days I spent a bit of time planning a future leg of the trip before calling it a night.

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