Monaco (May Day)

With the goal of going to Monaco and back Ann, Robin, and I decided to meet a little earlier for breakfast. I stayed focused on the croissant, but today rather than filling them with jam I enjoyed them with cheese and ham. Delicious.

May Day is the equivalent of our Labor Day, so the streets were empty and the stores closed. It made for an easy walk to the train station. We passed a few flower vendors, so we assume flowers are a traditional part of May Day get-togethers. Don’t hold me to that. Anyway, Robin worked the ticket machine like a pro and with little effort we found the right platform. We rode on the top deck of a very comfortable car for the hour plus ride that ran right along the water. 7 Euro 50 each way. With no bus service due to the holiday, the train was filled to capacity. The empty seat next to me was taken by a woman who was beyond pulled together. She was all decked out in black and white from her boots to her jewelry to her shawl. Her hair was styled and makeup perfect. I told her she looked magnificent and must be going somewhere special for lunch. Yep, off she was to have a holiday lunch with four granddaughters, her daughter, and son-in-law at the yacht club in Monte Carlo. She and I chatted for half an hour and before I knew it she was showing me a picture of the red dress she had just bought to wear to a wedding later this month. We said good bye on the platform once we arrived.

We had made no plans for our visit unless you call flying by the seat of your pants a plan. Ann noticed an Exotic Garden (Jardin Exotique de Monaco) sign when we excited the station, so we just decided to start there. We had no idea it was located quite a hike up a hill. We persevered and really enjoyed how beautifully the 1,000 plus cacti and other succulents were arranged literally on the side of the mountain. The garden, established in 1933, has a series of bridges, steps, and archways all overlooking the principality. It’s well worth a visit.

We bumped into a young gal at an overlook in the garden who decided for no apparent reason to share with us the fact that Monaco has outdoor public elevators. She was singing our tune since we did not relish the long walk down the hill. When we left the garden we managed to find an elevator that took us down a couple levels. We exited, crossed the street, and got in another one that took us down an additional 10 levels. We not so inconspicuously followed a man in hopes he would lead us to yet another one, which he did. He got the drift we were headed to the Rock of Monaco (La Rocher de Monaco), so he took us to a final elevator that was sort of hidden and it got us to the bottom of the mountain. He walked with us two block and explained how to get to the top of the Rock. It was our day for friendly, fun strangers.

We grabbed water and warm take-away ham and cheese sandwiches and headed up the long walkway leading to the palace square. We did not have time to go in the palace, famous for continuing to house the royal family of the Principality of Monaco as it has done for the past 700 years, but we did enjoy it from the outside. We strolled around, contemplated having tea, decided to forgo the walk to Monte Carlo, decided to postpone tea, returned to the beautiful train station, and took the train back to Cannes. Tea was now back on the brain, so we walked back to the hotel and enjoyed our pick-me-up on the beach in front of the hotel. We skillfully lingered just long enough for Ann’s sweet husband Chris to come along and settle the check.

Dinner was at Fred L’ecailler, home of the largest profiteroles I have ever seen. Forget dainty little cream puffs filled with a dollop of ice cream and drizzled with chocolate; picture instead a monster meatball sized scoop of ice cream between two hamburger buns smothered in rich chocolate. Multiply that by three and add two generous mounds of whipped cream on the side! Darrell (in from Dubai) ordered these delights and ended up sharing it with three other people. Besides the great food and shockingly large profiteroles, one of the waiters, or possibly Fred himself, was dressed like Waldo of Where’s Waldo fame, stocking cap and all. His distinctive look drew lots of attention which he seemed to enjoy.

On our walk back to the hotel we passed boules courts where men were playing under the lights. We noticed that preparations had begun for the film festival: temporary structures were being constructed on the beach for starters. It’s hard to imagine how crazy it will be around here when tens of thousands of movers and shakers in the film industry descend on the city for the May 14 start of the festival.

18,924 steps and 9 flights of stairs later I called it a day. Lights out at midnight.



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