Royal playground of the rich (and a little bit of Cannes)
28.06.2011 - 28.06.2011 30 °C
Aah Cannes! City of movie festivals, red carpets and holiday spot of the rich. I feel a little excited jump in my stomach as I walk down the deck and the city of Cannes begins to unfold before me.
Cannes is a tender port which means that the harbour is too small and the water too shallow for big cruise liners to dock here. The ship docks a little way out of the harbour and you then take little shuttle boats towards the shore.
1. Yachting galore
It takes about 10 minutes to get to the port and as you come closer, you realise how small this harbour really is. I decide to walk the 15 minutes uphill to the train station. It takes me directly along the Cannes film festival route. As the film festival already took place in May, the red carpet has long been removed and all that remains is the hand prints along the route. I see the handprints of Julie Andrews, Meryl Streep and Sylvester Stallone, who's hands are really massive! I see the Claude Debussy Theatre, the ocean, Cannes boardwalk, lovely shops and beautiful French people. It does appear that the fame of Cannes is mostly based around the film festival and I am happy to wave it goodbye from my seat in the train.
3. Claude Debussy Theatre
4. Grand Auditorium of the Cannes Film Festival (steps minus the red carpet)
5. Famous handprints
The train races along the French Riviera. We pass beautiful beaches, countryside and small stations along the way. At 10.26 we arrive at Monte Carlo.
6. Monte Carlo arrival
The whole of Monaco is built on the side of the mountain. The roads are steep, but this doesn't seem to bother the Monagasque women who briskly navigate the steep streets with their very high heeled Louboutins.
7. Monte Carlo Casino Royale
I idly walk through the streets, with no specific plan in mind. I arrive at the casino without really realising it. A magnificent mirror ball grabs my attention in front of the casino complex. When I arrive at the casino it looks quite small, but there is a magnificent mirror ball in front of the casino complex. The Monte Carlo Casino is a very famous entertainment complex in Monaco, but it's residents and citizens are forbidden to enter the gaming rooms of the casino. Identity Documents are checked at the door. Apparently I am also forbidden to enter the casino. I am still standing at the entrance, admiring the architecture when a security officer comes running towards me, waving his arms and pointing at me. Sun dresses showing your knees are apparently too informal for the casino.
I browse the little shops around the casino instead and then just decide to walk further down towards the lookout point over the harbour. A billion yachts are lined up there, but this is not what catches my eye. Along the main street South African flags are flying together with the flag of Monaco. All this is in honour of the South African girl that Prince Albert will be making his princess this coming weekend.
8. Proudly South African moment
The Prince's Palace of Monaco is on the other side of the principality. The local bus stops at the entrance of Monaco-Ville as busses cannot maneuver the small old European streets of this part of Monaco. Preparations for the wedding of Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock are already underway and tours into this 800 year old palace have been cancelled for the time being. I walk around the corner towards the Cathedral. Here, silence is an absolute must and a sign of respect for this very holy place. This is something that the big tour groups have a little trouble with which infuriates the poor security guard. The cathedral is very peaceful and very beautiful. You can view the graves of Prince Rainier, the previous prince of Monaco and his wife, the famous Princess Grace. Fresh flowers are still placed on the graves as a sign of respect. Many other Grimaldi graves can also be found here.
9. The Saint Nicholas cathedral
10. The graves of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace
11. Narrow streets of Monaco-Ville
12. The palace
The people in Monaco are crazy drivers. This is most probably due to the fact that they have Grand Prix in their blood. There are a lot of small French car brands, such as Citroen, Renault and Peugeot, whizzing around the small and tight corners in Monaco. There are also those residents who drive something more eye-catching such as a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. Then there a billions of Vespas or Scooters who are everywhere and just want to kill pedestrians. The bus drivers are just as crazy and steer those big busses really fast around the corners. For such a small country, they really have a lot of drivers. They also don't have many traffic lights, but people just give way to pedestrians and other drivers, which can be very confusing. Pedestrians just start walking and the cars stop, a practice which can be a little nerve-racking, because those Vespas are out to get you. When talking to residents I just say 'Bonjour' and 'Merci' enough to keep everyone happy.
13. I've got a lovely bunch of scooters, there they are a standing in a row
14. Small cars make parallel parking easy
15. Lovely view of a lovely country
After getting a sandwich I decide to eat it on the way back to the station. The Cannes-Monaco train operates every hour and I am just in time to catch the 3pm train. The train was so full that I had to stand all the way to Nice, which is halfway between Monaco and Cannes. I also almost got crushed by a family of Spanish gingers. When I finally got a seat, I didn't dare fall asleep in fear of missing my stop and ending up somewhere in Germany. The train finally pulls into the station at about 4:20pm and as the ship only leaves at 7:30pm I still have a lof of time to walk down towards the port and see a little of Cannes. I buy a hat at a Senegalese street vendor. He gives me some discount on account of us having an African bond. I arrive back at the ship and take a little nap before dinner.
Here are some vital mistakes made by tourists. Spot the mistake.
1. Standing in front of the palace in Monaco, a boy asks his father: Dad, who lives here. Oh, Prince Rainier he replies.
2. Sitting in front of the bus, an American family climbs on and buy their tickets. They all proceed to thank the driver by saying: Grazie.
Next stop: Florence and Pisa.