Our first port of call after Barcelona was Monte Carlo in Monaco. The country is so small it is nearly all visible at one glance, only a few miles wide and a mile or so deep, just like Munster, Indiana where I live. This is basically where the rich come to hang out when they just want to be one of the guys. Most of them, however, have vanished for the summer because Monaco, like most of the places we visited, is so awash in tourists it's hard to walk down the street, or even get to your yacht.
We chose to walk up from the dock to the Royal Palace, a trip that involved many, many, many staircases until we leveled off at the top. The city is spotless; no litter or graffiti here; everything, everywhere is freshly painted, neatly trimmed, highly polished, and very lush. This is the point at which you realize how brilliantly blue the Mediterranean is, even more so than the best photographs you've ever seen -- the color is quite remarkable. Flowers grow everywhere here, in an explosion of color across buildings, hillsides, balconies and in parks. I would say I could get used to this type of lifestyle, but I didn't see a single paper store anywhere, so it is definitely not going to work for me.
The palace lines the main square in the heart of town and is a beautiful, classic style building. Daily changing of the guard takes place just before noon; we missed it by a few minutes (it was those last few staircases that did us in) so the guard I photographed was fresh on the job and looking very buff. Other stops included the massive church where Prince Rainier and Princess Grace (Kelly) are buried; the royal crests shown here are engraved on their grave stones.
On a short train ride around town, we saw how the rich air their interesting laundry, and also where they grow those lovely Hermes scarves and handbags (oops, my bad).
Chicago had life size cow sculptures all over town in the 90's; Cincinnat had flying pigs,. Monaco has giant birds, including one on the palace balcony and others in various public spaces.
Monte Carlo is one of those places that makes for a nice day visit, although I don't think I will be going back again anytime soon. Too many other adventures await!