Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Monaco as a tourist and local

Good morning Monaco!  What a gorgeous sunrise...gonna be a great day!  Today we headed up to the top of the rock to the Oceanographic Museum and Prince's Palace to start our day.

The Oceanographic Museum opened in 1910 and was the creation of Prince Albert I of Monaco.  Prince Albert was an avid explorer and loved the ocean. Jacques Cousteau was director of the museum from 1957 to 1988.  I've been to a lot of aquariums and this is by far the most impressive I've seen.  The view at the top is also pretty amazing! While the pictures do not do it any justice, please enjoy them.


While Monaco may be a small principality, it still holds all the traditional ceremonies of larger kingdoms.  Every day at 11:55am the Changing of the Guard Ceremony takes place. We were there in off season so only needed to arrive 10 minutes before but if you go during season, make sure to arrive by 11:30 at the lastest to get a good spot.

New Guard Arrives

Old Guard Departs

Francois Grimaldi
First prince of Monaco
Dressed up as a monk and capture the Rock of Monaco on January 8, 1297
A Grimaldi has been the Prince of Monaco for over 700 years
The current Prince of Monaco is a direct descendant of Francois

After a stop at the Chocolaterie de Monaco (how could we pass it up) for a little refreshment, we headed back to the Oceanographic Museum.  One of the things we like to do when visiting a town is to take the Hop On/ Hop Off bus for one loop to get a good lay of the land...not to mention it would save us the very long and steep walk back down the Rock.  Here are a few photos from the loop.

The Hop On/ Hop Off bus took us along the Grand Prix route.  Pic on the left is through the tunnel. Pic on right is the many motorcycles buzzing through the streets of Monaco.

Little boat in the harbor
Of course we had to Google it and found out
it is owned by a Russian and worth $214 million

While there are approximately 37,000 people that live in Monaco, only about 8,800 are true Monegasque.  To be considered a Monegasque, you must be born to at least one parent that is a Monegasque -- it a bloodline.  If you've been married to a Monegasque for at least 10 years, you can petition for citizenship but if you are granted citizenship but get divorced, you lose citizenship.  Not all Monegasques are weathly and living in Monaco can be quite pricy.  For a 67 square meter (721 square feet) flat, the cost is 5,000 euro ($5,200) a month! So Prince Albert developed the 1,000 homes project to create affordable housing for Monegasques.  Here is one of the buildings...looks pretty nice from the outside.

After a fun day playing tourist, we hit the Christmas Market with the locals.  One of my favorite things in Europe during the holidays is the Christmas Markets. While Germany has the best I've seen, the ones we've visited on this trip have been nice.  

Tonight's dinner was Poelee de Noel...onions, mushrooms, chicken and spices.  It is served either on a baguette or with fries.  Julie went with the baguette and I took the frites du maison (aka home fries).  What a tasty dinner and not too filling so we could have hot chocolate (love European hot chocolate...think warm pudding) and warm wine.

We hopped on the #6 bus and headed to Monte Carlo for another look at the casino decorated for Christmas.  Trying to be good, we opted to not tempt ourselves and go inside...not to mention you have to pay just to get in to lose money!

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