Today there was great rejoicing throughout the land, because although I have now had two outfits bite the dust in only twelve hours, there are dozens more, so I can still wear clothes, hurrah. (Trust me, despite the proximity of the ‘topless’ beach, the whole neighbourhood should be celebrating this one). Also, there is space in this hotel room to hang stuff up so it can dry, which is not always the case, so double hurrah!
(There are also two bathrooms, and a fridge and a safe… and a door right into the next hotel room. With no lock or anything. This is disturbingly like those dreams I used to have, of finding a new door somewhere in my flat, and a whole maze of other rooms behind it, jolly good, extra house for me… and some horrible Thing living in there that reckons the extra door means my flat belongs to it, and I can neither barricade it out nor find my way back, argh.
So I parked my suitcase across the door.)
Anyway, with all that sorted, we were off down the coast road, destination Monaco (if for some reason you had not guessed this part). I am sure it will never become old news to hear the sunshine was as glorious as it was tropical, the sea was as blue as the palm-trees were ubiquitous, and I was really glad we were in the car in case I spontaneously combusted from contact with a stray sunbeam. The Scots: we are practically the vampires of the world.
Nice (the Proper Nice, not the suburb/ commuter town we’re in) looked very fancy indeed, massive and ornate facades along the waterfront for miles on end. The Bossman assures me that Nice is actually very dull, but he comes here on business, I am sure there is an endless amount for the hussy with time on her hands to do! For instance, is that a ruined castle on the hill, right at the end? Yes. And then we were off through a series of tunnels cut into the very mountains, and lovely little vistas down to the sea interspersing them. Wow. I think maybe the built-up area stretches all the way into Monaco, despite an increasingly impressive number of cliffs?
Monaco itself is apparently one big cliff, and I was expecting to be mesmerised by terror of it, what with the Bossman claiming it consists of a giant switchback and the roads are so piled on top of each other that satnav can’t tell which one you’re on. This turned out to be something of a Fib, however. And the cactus gardens were very easy to find. On our second attempt. Now this is more like it! They totally are clinging to the side of a cliff, with the city spread out below (the parts of it that aren’t also clinging to the cliff, that is) and are very beautiful indeed (if you like that sort of thing. Which I do. Who could ever get tired of attempting to frame a bunch of prickly pears round an unnamed municipal building in the background, for instance? Oh look, it was a free way to kill time.)
The cactus gardens also feature… another limestone cave, woo, this one discovered by accident in the early 20th century and already on show to visitors from the 1950’s (after all the mud that had filled it up had been heaved out). And with Noon looming large like an unusually shiny albatross of doom, what better place to while it away than staggering down three hundred steps in the cool, slimy darkness (and then back up them again)?
Possibly not for those who don’t love stalactites. Or, three hundred steps of cool, slimy darkness, but I thought it was excellent. They even had a wee museum dedicated to, Stuff We Found Down There; rather a lot of human skeletons (I assume, cave-age ones, not folks who fell in later) and an entire cave-bear skeleton, complete except for the front paws. (Hmm. I have a cave-bear paw. I wonder… nah, probably not). And there was an exhibition of Mongolian stuff from the Mongolian highlands (I assume, my French not really being up to archaeological info, more the asking for a cheese toastie standard). It was quite bizarre seeing a selection of carved standing stones on the patio next to some sort of skyscraper done up in crazy paving, but that is the sort of thing that pleases me greatly.
As is the revelation that Monaco is mainly got around by use of lifts built into the hillside! We took about seven lifts down to the waterfront and found lunch in what might have been a Monacan (ooh look, spellcheck says this is a Real word) attempt at an American diner. It was dead good. Sadly, I made the mistake of ordering the pear sorbet in pear brandy, hoping the Bossman wouldn’t notice (as the designated driver, he can become understandably put out when someone else is doing All the drinking, and makes many a pointed reference to me getting refresher lessons so he can get pished instead.) People on the Continong are rather more liberal with their booze than peeps at home, however, and the thing turned up looking like the Kon Tiki adrift in an ocean of tequila. Not only was this really, really unmissable, but I was scared when I had a ciggie for an aperitif that I’d take my face off.
I attempted to sober up with a walk around the Grand Prix track. (There being no Grand Prix on at the time, the most I had to fear was mopeds). I couldn’t believe people didn’t move their boats out the way for the event (the Grand Prix, not me going for a walk), seeing as, forget being bigger than my flat, I swear some of these buggers are larger than the entire tenement; but was informed that they keep them here On Purpose just to watch the race from the decks. In fact, I was told, they probably only use the boat for that one week of the year and often don’t even take it out for a sail afterwards.
(What? I mean that would be like having your own plane, just so you could have an annual party in the hanger. I am convinced he is wrong about this, because otherwise something else is very badly wrong.)
Not having a boat, we
walked up the avenue took a bus back up the hill to the carpark. Woo, I rocked a map and my French today! (Does Monaco have a language of its own? Must investigate). Although in all likelihood, I will never return here. Sniff. And I wasn’t even allowed to go in a casino and put on one tiny bet -‘in case I promptly went bankrupt’ – I’ve never been in one, and I really want to have a go just once. Preferably at roulette, which involves no skill at all, right? And I want it to look like the sort of place James Bond goes to the sodding casino when I get in there, and if anywhere is not going to disappoint, surely it is here?
Oh well, at least I have my fond beliefs that casinos are sparkly and full of glamorous people in tuxes. I bet they are so not. But I don’t have a tux myself, come to think of it…
Anyway. From there, we got the peage home, which was very much quicker than the coast road and almost as pretty. To make up for shamelessly guzzling pear brandy in front of him when he was doing hours on hours of driving, I took the Bossman out for extravagant dinner with All the cocktails; and am now bankrupt. Ironically.
And Awww, tomorrow he is at work and I must entertain myself.