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Friday, January 27, 2012

Trip to Monaco

I booked a tour to Monaco. One hour driving by car (Service Med-Tours). Every day at 11h55am there is the changing of the guards at the Monaco palace. I was up there at 11h30am. Suddenly I realized a lot of paparazzi with their big cameras. Changing of the guards so interesting?

Then eight guardians came, two with trumpets, one commander and the rest with guns. Guys in uniforms looking trechic like mother's dream wishing such a son for her daughter. Then four motorcycles with blue light came followed by a black Mercedes. Inside Albert II. Every motorcycle driver had about 20 medals, it must be a honour to drive and protect the prince. As they passed the castle's entrance the guardians played a short melody on the trumpet, the others saluted. After the prince was inside the guardians went off. Every time the prince enters the castle the guardians have to stand out. Hmmm, good old Grimaldi tradition. (Francois Grimaldi conquered the rock ("Rocher") on January 8, 1297). Maybe another reason? Maybe it's a warning to all working in the castle "Prince coming! Put away newspapers, stop playing cards, do busy now!" ;-)

Then I heard march-music. I long procession with priests approached, four men carried a shrine. They took their position on the square in front of the castle. As a ceremony starts the window of the palace opened and there they were standing: Albert II. and his wife. The paparazzi took their shots flattering around with tele-objectives bigger than a guitarneck. Also tourists shooted with their cameras. And som have quite big cameras as if they would have known about this event. Some proudly present their camares hanging down to their stomach like saying "look what I have". Boyz and their toyz.

After this event I went to the Museé Océanographique. Since 1910 Albert I's works are shown. Dead and living animals, bones, photos, researcher's tools and. Impressive the big whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling on 3rd floor.

Now down from the castle's rock to Monte Carlo while smoking a cigar in the streets. Thank god it is not forbidden to smoke in the streets. I absolutely pro that smoking is forbidden in cafehouses, restaurants and I always take a non-smoker hotel room (and really do not smoke there). But where should people enjoying a cigar go? I am not sure if people heating off stressfully a cigarette really enjoy that, but for cigar you need time. And life should be fun and enjoyment, not stress and pressure.

And now to something completely different: the grand casino in Monte Carlo. Great architecture inside the wellknown casino, photographing forbidden. Shoud be no problem with a mobile phone. But, hey, I don't take a phone with me. This is my holiday. 1869 Charles II. built the casino. The legend says that magnates, manufacturers in designer suit upstarted in the industrial revolution as well as innovative entrepreneurs as well as game addiction declined noble men, gambled all their money and then went over to the rock near the casino and jumped down. Well, I could not find a rock nearby the casino, there are streets and green. Maybe in former times there was this rock to commit suicide. By the way, Monte Carlo, a part of Monaco, means Charle's hill. There must be a rock anywhere nearby to throw away a ruined life. But why to look for this rock? Curiosity? Sensationalism? Historic interest?

In the casino I did not gamble, I never do. When I was in Las Vegas I did not gamble even one dollar. Gambling on the stock exchange is more exciting than in a casino. I tell you, you can make a small fortune on wallstreet (or Frankfurt) - you only have to start with a big one.

Monaco is a rocky country, second smallest (after Vatican) in the world. With autonomous police, post (colourful Monaco stamps are liked to be collected, I also have some), but no passport checkpoint on the boundary to France. And the smell of big money? Well, in the harbour between million-dollar-yachts I smelled a mixture of sea and dollars. In the shops like Cartier, Dolce&Gabbana, Armani, and many more I smelled only dollars, on the rock looking to the sea I smelled the Mediterrenean sea and near a restaurant I smelled grilled fish. The smell of Monaco is more than the smell of dollars. But suddenly I heard the crackling of banknotes. I turned around. It was a seagull fluttering up.

And the people? People are friendly, especially when they realize that I do not speak french. So obviously foreigner... And cars? I saw Ferrari, Rolls Royce as well as Peugeot. Monaco demystified? No, but as I say: Everybody stinks from feet when not washed.

The roundup: Very interesting, good to have seen it. A place I will remember...
Guards coming to greet Albert II.

Albert II. in the castle, so motorcycle escort leaves the castle

Paparazzi

Object of desire: Albert II. with wife

Changing of the guards

Aquarium in Musee Oceanographique

Skeleton of whale in Musee Oceanographique

Selfportrait on the way down from the castle's rock to the harbour

Famous Monte Carlo Casino

Rich and poor peacefully side by side

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