When planning this time period, we chose Nice because it was geographical reasonable (between London and Venice, where we're meeting Deb, Derek and Evelyn), and it was seen as a place of rest. I figured after a month of seeing churches and historical sites in Paris, Belgium, the Netherlands and London, the kids might enjoy a few days of beach time. I think I was right. We could be doing more here, such as visiting museums and exploring every nearby town, but that was not our original intent.
Saturday we rested completely, but Sunday I insisted on a little walk up Castle Hill in Nice before hitting the beach. Without Barry here to guide us we got a little turned around and made the walk a little longer than expected. Regardless, we enjoyed our view of Nice and beyond. The advantage of a French bakery under our apartment is that I can get the kids to pick something out, then use it as bait to encourage them up 500 steps. It works on Dad too.
We were too lazy to go out for dinner, so we grabbed some pizza and stayed in and watch some tv and plan for the days ahead. The kids can still use Netflix when the internet connections are good, but the programming changes with each country. They get a little ticked when they start a tv series, only to discover it doesn't play in a new location. Maybe they can catch up in Switzerland.
We got up at 4am Monday to watch the lunar eclipse. Before heading to the beach, as planned, I opened the shutters in the bedroom to discover all we had to do was turn our heads to the foot of the bed and we had a perfect view of the moon. The clouds kept coming and going, but we had a decent view of the eclipse. I suspect we didn't see much of the red glow due to the urban lights in Nice.
Monday we decided we'd had enough of the beach and a short day trip was in order. In the best clothes I packed, black Croc sandals and a cotton dress, we boarded a west-bound train to one of the riches countries on earth: Monaco!
It's quite a spectacular city-state. It's only 2 square kilometres, and built on the end of the French Alps where they descend into the Mediterranean. It's a nightmare to navigate based on a flat map because the mountainside and tunnels are very confusing when looking at the streets - we were missing Barry again. We decided our safest bet was to hop on and off the local buses when needed.
The Grimaldi family has ruled this small Principality (on and off) since 1297, and it was nice to see the current Prince wasn't too busy to drive by us on his way into the castle. For several hours we strolled the old town and Monte Carlo casino area with thousands of other tourists. My clothes turned out to be just fine compared the them...compared to the locals was another story. Outside of the movies, I'd never seen a woman get dropped off from her chauffeured Bentley to pop into Yves St. Laurent for some new clothes. Monaco is a unique place to visit for the day, but a bit surreal.
Ted Brandon, I thought you'd appreciate the Rolex hanging in the casino lobby. It was beautiful.