Saturday, 22 June 2013

Ventura Cruise - Monte Carlo & Eze

Guest blogger Danielle Fear, aka Cruise Miss, continues her Mediterranean voyage aboard the Ventura of P&O Cruises...

Yesterday we spent the day in good old Monaco. This was my fifth visit to Monte Carlo and, before leaving for the cruise, I had decided it would be nice to do a tour here this time and take in a little more of what this beautiful - and rich - port has to offer. During my Caribbean voyage, I booked an excursion with The Shore Excursions Group and had such a wonderful experience I decided to use them in Monaco.

After I booked the trip, I realised we would not get ashore until after the tour meeting time. I informed Shore Ex and they went to every length to alter our meeting time. Perfect! Our guide met us just yards from where the tender boats dropped us off and, by luck, it turned out we were the only people on the tour. Our guide mentioned the sights the tour took in and said we could alter it if we wished as there were just two of us, so we cut one or two bits out and custom-made it to suit us.

Our first stop was the stunning medieval town of Eze. The views were breathtaking and there were gorgeous gardens emitting the most delicious floral scents. I wish I could have bottled it - never have I smelled such fragrances from flowers. The streets were narrow and steep, it was rich in its own little history and the kind of place I love to visit during my travels. It actually reminded me of Savoca in Sicily, without the Godfather connection of course.

From here we worked our way back down into Monaco, again stopping to digest the views from above, and arrived at the Palace just in time for the changing of the guard. There were tourists everywhere and it was quite difficult to get close enough to see what was going on but the atmosphere alone was thrilling. Once the excitement calmed and the crowd dispersed, we grabbed a few pictures of the view across Monte Carlo then made our way down towards the Cathedral
I have visited some stunning churches in my time but this one is extra special. It was pristine
on the outside and, as soon as you stepped through the door, you felt so peaceful. At the back there is the tomb of Princess Grace Kelly. It was touching to see but also very sad. There were fresh flowers laid, along with a few other trinkets. Our guide had left us here to do our own thing for an hour, and, when we were ready to continue, she was there waiting.

Next came the world famous Monte Carlo Casino. To be honest, after visiting here several times already, I am more excited by the seemingly never-ending array of top-of-the-range and custom-designed Bentleys, Rolls Royce Phantoms, Ferraris and other fancy cars. It provides an amazing glimpse of how the other half live!

Our guide was wonderful, with an answer for every question. I was interested to learn more about the Prince and his family, and she told us the Prince was in the palace yesterday because the flag was flying. She told us more about Grace Kelly and her accident and then showed us the properties that belonged to her daughters, even giving us a brief outline of where they are today. From one viewpoint she mentioned we were actually in France; below us was the Principality of Monaco and just a stone’s throw to our left was Italy. She also pointed out that one particular building was an apartment complex where the rent is 120,000 euros - a month. Residents can drive their cars into custom-built elevators to take them directly to the floor on which they live. Can you imagine!

Today we are in one of my favourite countries, Italy, and It is another scorcher of a day!

More soon....