16.04.2016 - 16.04.2016
Saturday April 16th Today is Monaco day!! I know when you think of Monaco, most people think Grace Kelly, James Bond movies, or maybe you just think the worlds super rich. All of those are correct, to top it off it's just a small yet beautiful country. Lucky for me it is a short thirty minute bus ride west of Ventimiglia.
Pretty much everyone I told I was hoping to go to Monaco told me take pictures of the casino and did you visit the casino? I had other reasons for wanting to go to Monaco though. One it's beautiful, and has the look of a tropical island even though it's nestled on the coast of France, two I wanted to see the Oceanographic Museum, and three I wanted to see the Prince Palace. Since Vatican City in Roma counts as it's own country, that means that Monaco is the worlds second smallest country. I want to see as many countries as I can so this was my chance to see Monaco. Though now I need to plan a trip to Nice, France so I can come spend one or two more days here.
When I got off the train it was super easy to figure out where to go because they have a wonderful you are here map in front that then shows you which way to go to get to all the top visited locations. Plus every couple of blocks while walking there are more signs telling you which way to go which makes getting lost very hard to do. As is my style I slowly made my way in the relative direction of the Palace first. I had all day so I could wonder and meander to my hearts content.
I toured the Palace, when you buy the ticket it includes an audio guide which is kinda nice. I must admit I was a little disappointed in how little of the Palace you actually get to see. No photos, videos, or cell phones are allowed in the Palace. Fine by me, that means no distractions from actually seeing what you're looking at. Don't get me wrong I like taking pictures of where I go, and things I do as visual memories, but sometimes I think people get so busy taking pictures that they don't actually see what they are looking at, and only get half the experience of where they've gone. Sometimes it's nice to just put down the camera and enjoy being in the moment.
When I left the Palace I stopped at the gift shop to buy a model Ferrari for a friend, and of course a magnet for me. Then I set off exploring headed in the direction towards the Oceanographic Museum. I gotta say I love aquariums and the fact that the basement level of this museum is a small aquarium almost became the best moment of the day for me. I'd bought a combo ticket at the Palace(Saves you money this way, and you can choose Palace and either the Oceanographic Museum or the Royal car collection.) In the aquarium I found Nemo, and sharks, and turtles( my two favorites), as well as lots of kinds of fish, a mean looking yellow eel. I also found a weird little Koosh ball looking type of jellyfish I think, that suctioned to the glass so that the waves didn't knock it around. It was a very interesting looking little creature.
Up in the museum itself there are items from cultures that live along the waters edge from all around the world. A few beautiful pieces of abalone shell that were amazing carved, some coconuts that were carved, and possibly burned to get images on them. Lots of animals skeletons, stuffed ones, pictures of some, everything you could think of to do with the ocean was somewhere in that museum.
On the roof there is a restaurant, and if you follow the turtle stickers on the ground you can find African Spurred Tortoises. There were even babies, you could pet the adults, and you cannot pet the babies. The babies if I recall where a different type of Tortoise, only the adults were African Spurred Tortoises.
To eventually exit the museum you go can go out the front door, or through the bookshop. If you go out through the bookshop you have to walk through the room with a tank to get to the bookshop. The tank has some small sharks in it that you can pet. There is an employee stationed at the tank to tell people how to properly touch the sharks. Only on their backs and sides, not the head, fins, or tails. Of course I had to stop to touch the sharks too.
This museum has one of the best book shops I've seen in a while. I like buying books about the places I go because I know I'm not going to remember all the information I've learned from each location I visit. A lot of the places I have visited on this trip in Italy though only have books in Italian. If they have a book in another language there is literally one or two books offered in French, English, Spanish, and German, and dozens in Italian. I will have to search Amazon when I get home to try and find books on most of where I've been that are in English since I couldn't find very many here.
The casino that everyone loves is on the other side of the train station and I had spent enough time wondering around this side of town that sadly if I wanted to get back to Ventimiglia before dark I needed to take a train back soon. So I did not visit the casino this visit, it had to wait till my return visit some day. It's okay though because I saw the places I really wanted to and learned a little about Monaco as well.
The train ride back to Ventimiglia was as easy as getting here had been, I'd even bought my return ticket in the morning so I just had to validate it before hoping on a train. I did a little window shopping on the way to the flat, got dinner since I can't figure out how to make the gas work right, and called it a good day.