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----- Principality of Monaco ---------------

The Principality of Monaco is the 2nd smallest sovereign state in the world, second only to Vatican City. Monaco has an interesting history, and has been under the ruler ship of the Grimaldi family for generations. This was my 2nd time in Monaco, and again it was an amazing visit. It is impressive with so much wealth in such a small area. When at the Monte Carlo Casino you are surrounded by Bentley's, Ferrari's, Rolls Royce and AMG Mercedes. A standard Mercedes doesn't cut it here. The AMG version is what is driven. The streets, buildings and parks are immaculately clean and well cared for. The shopping mall has crystal chandeliers and is very elegant. As a side note, it was interesting to learn that only 3% of Monaco's income is from the Casino as most people believe is the source of the majority of its wealth.

Upon exiting the bus which carried us from Nice to Monaco we were at the tourist center in front of the Monte Carlo Casino. As you walk the streets and gardens, people are dressed very well wearing their Armani , Dolce & Gabana and other high end fashion clothing. The poorly dressed people are generally the American tourists wandering around. Although for an American tourist I was fairly dressed, I looked like a bum in comparison to the Monagasts and other European nationals.

Walking from the back of the Casio I came upon the famous Buddha Bar which turns out some good music tracks. The casino in general is a great place to people watch. It is funny watching all the kids take their pictures by the exotic cars. It definitely reminded me of my childhood as I did the same. After a short stay at the Casino, we walked around the harbour to the base of "the rock" as locals call the high point where the royal palace lies. We ascended the steps and arrived at the palace where we watched the changing of the guard. I found a place to stamp my passport with a Monaco marker, but I had forgotten my passport at my hotel. I was pretty angry as I knew I wanted to bring it. Along the south side of the upper village and along the cliffs was a wonderful panoramic view of the marina and high rise condo buildings with gardens and trees on the roofs. Plus the buildings had helipads. Princess Stephanie of Monaco has the whole top level penthouse on one of the buildings overlooking the sea. Checking real estate here I was flabbergasted by how much a studio sells for; over 1 million USD for 300 square feet.

This is a wonderful place to visit and walk, but if you are not fabulously wealthy, it can be quite intimidating.

Across the street from the casino

The famous Buddha Bar - great music

Hmmm which car to choose?

Ferrari, common in Monaco

The famous Monte Carlo Casino

Beautiful gardens of Monte Carlo

Nice gull wing Mercedes

Me in front of the casino

Reflection in a large mirror ball

leading up to the casino

Under a bridge, pretty nice...

Cliffs near the palace

Helicopter pads at the condos

The Fontvieille marina

Princess Stephanie's top level condo

Fontvieille condos

Looking towards Monte Carlo

Mom with Monaco backdrop

Beautiful weather in Monaco

Looking down the cliffs

Monte Carlo gardens

Elegance & Opulance at the mall

Now this is a food court

Lunch in the food court. Nice...

Girl dressed up and rides a moped

Ascending the path to the palace

Gardens along the ascending path

Another stunning view of Monaco

Mariner statue in the gardens

View of the palace

Famous Princess Grace of Monaco

Me framed with a beautiful backdrop

Banner at the Museum

Oceanographic Museum along the sea

Close up palace view

Monaco palace guard

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