Monday, August 22, 2011

Monaco

We were so excited to arrive in Monaco on Friday, the 29th of July, as we had booked a hotel for 5 nights. We were going to be in one place for 5 nights! After 2 weeks of, at the most, 2 consecutive days anywhere, we were excited to leave our bags unpacked for awhile.

Of course it was also perfect weather, the best since we'd arrived in France almost 2 weeks ago. Out came the shorts and swimsuits. We hit the beach:


Beautiful and quiet, but more rocky than we're used to. We remedied that with some water shoes. We also picked up goggles. And bikinis for the girls.







Gaby and I had the same goggles, same water shoes, and same bikinis. Except that mine took considerably more fabric! I had brought a tankini, but actually felt more conspicious as the only women wearing some sort of one piece were probably over 70. It's been many years since my tummy has seen sunlight -- it felt good!


We swam in the hotel pool. That's Gaby, who was in there swimming laps every day.



The view from our room:



As we had done in Reims before we left, we shopped for our lunch at the local grocery store. And as in Reims, we were able to find delicious cheeses and pates to enjoy with fresh baguettes. Restaurants here have been expensive but the groceries are quite reasonable.


Picnic on the balcony.


Marc and I did some sightseeing. Lots of walking. The kids were content to stay at the hotel and we were fine with that. Every old church, every old building was starting to look the same to them.


But not to us. After shorter walks around our hotel, we took the hotel shuttle to the casino area, and walked around there. First stop was the Hotel de Paris. I had to photograph this for Gaby, as she and I had recently seen the Selena Gomez movie Monte Carlo, and many of the scenes took place in this hotel. The grand lobby:


And the no less grand exterior.


We saw a lot, and changed elevations frequently. There are so many levels. This is how the locals stay in shape!


Changing of the guard at the palace.








It's fascinating to tour Monaco, and imagine what it must have been like to build these roads, tunnels and exquisite structures. And without the modern conveniences and tools we have now. It all seems like part of the landscape, like it was always here.

We wrapped up our five days in Monaco with a football game. And found out about it quite by chance. Our hotel was right beside the stadium, and we had seen big posters advertising a Monaco football game on the Monday. We inquired about it on Sunday at our hotel, and besides information about Monday's match, the concierge told us that Marseilles was playing a friendly against Manchester United, THE Manchester United, on Tuesday. That's when we started noticing the posters everywhere for that match. They did mention that Rooney would be playing -- it was right on the poster. So we got three tickets - Marc stayed behind and caught up on work - and the kids and I set out, across the road, for the football match.

Pizza first, at the stadium's pizza restaurant.

The match didn't start til 8:45. We had decided to go for pizza at 6:30, but discovered it was closed til 7, and that we would need a reservation. They were able to guarantee us a table when we came back at 7. The fun part was, when we left our hotel, we had to get through throngs of people at the main entrance. We found out that the Marseilles team was staying at our hotel, so fans were waiting to catch a glimpse of them. We spent our 1/2 hour til 7 doing the same. The number of people increased, but the team didn't show up by the time we had to return to the pizza place. Not that we would have recognized any of them anyway. But it would have been fun to see them.

We could hear when they were departing the hotel though. The roar of the crowd was audible over at the pizza restaurant. We didn't miss them by much, but we missed them. But we'd see them on the field.


Without asking, we were sold tickets in the visitor's section, which is why it looks a bit empty.


The Marseilles supporters section. They've got nothing on Philly's Sons of Ben. Perhaps because it was a friendly, rather than a regular season match. But they were sparse and quiet.

During warm up, I'd been snap happy, getting photos of who I thought was Wayne Rooney. Turns out, he didn't play. Someone else was wearing his number. Well that just took the wind out of our sails. We were very disappointed.


But we thought we'd sit back, make the best of it and enjoy the match.




At the half, the score was tied 2-2. But Man U fell apart during the second half. With 5 minutes remaining and Marseilles up 7-2, yes 7-2, we left. As we were walking out, we heard Marseilles score another goal. The final score was 8-2. The half time show, with these kids juggling, might have been the best part!


Truthfully, even with the high scoring and absence of names, it was a fun evening. And certainly no trouble getting there!


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