I was sad when I woke up on Saturday because I knew it was my last day to enjoy Nice. Claire and I had made grand plans to visit Monaco again and do all the things we didn’t do when we saw the Grand Prix: the Oceanographic Museum, the Palace, and whatever else we decided. We were meeting at 9:30 at the train station, and I arrived right on the dot and went to the meeting spot. But when I didn’t see Claire or Leanna or Khylee, I decided to get in line for tickets and figured they would walk up any minute and get in line with me.
But at 9:50 there was still no sign of anyone so I hopped out of line and began to pace, wondering what to do since Claire didn’t have a cell phone and I wasn’t sure what had happened. It was our last day and I didn’t want to waste it! Finally at 10, I saw her walking up in her new romper; she had gotten to the train station early and then realized she had left all her money by her bed and had to walk all the way back to get it. SO we got back in line, bought tickets, and went to Monaco.
The first stop was the Musee Oceanographique, which was SUCH an awesome place. The building could have doubled as a second palace for Prince Albert II; it was incredible. The first two floors were the actual museum, with collections of marine fossils, skeletons, and maritime exploration tools, models, etc. Did I mention that the building was beautiful? Mosaic floors, high ceilings, big chandeliers, and a huge octopus installation in the grand entry room that took up the entire ceiling and had tenticles wrapped around the columns to the floor.
The bottom two floors made up the aquarium. I love aquariums.
And French people love sharks. I’ve been hearing about this place all month and each time when a French person was talking about it they would exclaim something about the sharks (!!!), and I mean… yes, there were a handful and yes, I agree, sharks are pretty cool but… I didn’t really see what all the excitement was about. Maybe I’m just jaded because I see sharks every summer swimming in the ocean with me.
Afterwards we bought our last French lunch and ate in the Princess Grace gardens (side note: the French are obsessed with Grace Kelly), saw the cathedral where she was married, and walked towards the palace. First, we went into the palace museum, which was filled with collections of things that belonged to Napoleon (I saw his hat and gloves from Waterloo!!) and artifacts that had been given to the principality, letters signed by Louis XIV, diamond guilded swords, and all kinds of stuff. And after that, the palace, which was extra cool because it’s still where the Prince lives. We walked through one wing that was set up for visits and had lots of grand salons (and I saw the throne room! Cool…), but the rest of the palace was not open for visits because it’s still the working government offices and private residence of the royals.
We had actually not planned on going to see the casino in Monte Carlo, but due to a mix up of buses, we ended up there anyway. I wasn’t too sad about it though. Obviously, we couldn’t go in because we were not wearing gowns and did not arrive in a Bentley, but I couldn’t stop thinking, “James Bond! James Bond! Daniel Craig was here…..” Monaco is so cool.
Naturally, it being our last day, we headed straight to Vieux Nice for gelato when we got back. And we went all out, getting three scoops each. I got Bananatella, Tiramisu, and Kinder. As we ate, we decided we had to come back again the evening, and get crepes. I mean, what would be the point of coming back with 10 euros or so anyway? Might as well spend them.
My last dinner with Nicole was almost a three hour affair. She had gone to the “biologique” festival (organic foods) out in Place Massena and bought some salmon and mozarella, so we had mozarella first, then salmon and stewed tomatoes and vegetables, then yogurt, of course. Her daughter and her daughter’s friend joined us and talked with us for a long time (very, very quickly, might I add). And after dinner, for the last time, Claire and I made one more journey to “Gelato Place.” We walked in, and the guy who had served us earlier (remember, people know us at this point) held up two fingers and looked incredulous. Two times in one day? Oui. Bien sur. I asked for one scoop, and was told, no, it was my last time, I must have two scoops. I hesitated, but agreed, and when I tried to pay for both scoops, they wouldn’t take it. When we left, they said with conviction, “See you next summer!”
We ate our glace in Place Massena under the multi-colored, illuminated statues of Buddha-like men, thinking of things we would miss: gelato, public transport, eating tarts and pastries every day, speaking French to everyone, going out every night, making friends from all over the world, our favorite bars and bartenders, making day trips, taking the train, rose’, the guy who sang drink options on the beach, our host families, Vieux Nice, macarones… the list goes on.