06 June 2013

Villefranche : Nice and Monaco

3 June 2013

After relaxing yesterday, today was practically work!  Our Port Adventure into Nice met at 7:30am, so we were up at 6:30, thanks to early morning room service breakfast.  Villefranche does not have a place where cruise ships can dock, so we had to take tender boats from the ship to shore.  Once ashore, we were met by a guide who led us to a queue of busses waiting to take each group on their adventures.  We got a bit of a late start because of some trouble with one of the tenders, so our time in Nice was cut a bit short.  Luckily, T and I had visited Nice on our honeymoon, so this wasn’t too much of a disappointment.  Also, in place of the flower show and market that is usually in the central area, Monday is antique market day in Nice!  We used our hour of free time to peruse the market’s wares.  Ranging from old, but still functioning sewing machines and typewriters to furniture to clothing, the market was a feast for the eyes.  We took lots of photos, but only bought a few decorative wooden buttons.  Before boarding the bus, we decided to buy one of our favourite foods in France, a mini baguette sandwich slathered in butter, this time with salami and cornichon pickles!

Next up was Monaco, the second smallest country in the world (after Vatican City).  The first stop was the rock of Monaco, where we were supposed to visit a cathedral, but we ditched our group in favour of shopping.  We found ourselves another ginormous sandwich, this time on a long ciabatta roll with brie, cheddar and tomatoes.  We were searching for our favourite chocolate shop, Jeff de Bruges, but discovered that there was not a branch in Monaco.  Instead, we stopped in at the Chocolatier ofMonaco which is also a tea house.   We enjoyed cups of tea and bought some to bring home.  Afterwards, as we headed back to the bus, it began to rain.

The rain increased traffic somewhat and it took us some time to get to our next stop, Monte Carlo.  Monte Carlo is home to the famous casino and Formula One racing, which occurs on a track that winds throughout the streets instead of a traditional track circuit.  By the time we reached Monte Carlo, it was raining in earnest.  We walked to the casino with the rest of our group, but decided to forego the line and went off to explore the area on our own.  We saw some of the most expensive seats in the bandstand for the Formula One race; €2000 for 2 hours!  The race occurred just about a week ago (24-30 May), so they are in the process of breaking down the “track.”

After about an hour of wandering (and a €20 umbrella purchase), we headed back to the bus, somewhat soggy for the trip back to the ship.  Last time we were in Nice, we shopped a cute little outdoor artisan fair just outside the port terminal.  We had hoped to see it again, but the venders had packed up due to the weather.  Instead, we enjoyed a “first dinner” of tea and salads in our room, courtesy of room service.

Dinner was the show dinner at Animator’s Palate, where the restaurant transforms from black and white sketches to full colour images over the course of the meal.  We topped off the day with two desserts, one from the menu and one Mickey Bar, a “secret” item.  After another late night chat with our new friends, it’s finally very late/early and we have another early morning tomorrow!

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