Shaken not Stirred – A Trip to Monaco

We are pretty frugal in our every day lives.  We don’t like debt so we save first for special treats like this trip, save for a rainy day, that sort of thing.  So it is always interesting to get a glimpse in to how “the other half” lives.  For example, in Cannes, hotel rooms can reach the bargain price of 35000 Euros a night.  Yes, you read that right.  Granted that would be the price during the film festival but it does come with a jacuzzi tub so it’s a deal. Right?  I have wondered since how much money I would have to have in the bank account before that amount of money for a hotel room wouldn’t make me pass out.  It would have to be an insane amount in the bank.

While we stopped at Cannes we actually took a tour to Monaco as I figured when else would we get a chance to check it out, without having to get a hotel room?  Because the port is shallow and small in Cannes we had to be tendered to shore to catch the bus.

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It was a lovely drive along the coast through Nice into Monaco. I can see why people flock to this area.  Though the tour guide did say she gets away whenever there is a big event like the film festival.  The insanity of it all gets to her.  Can’t say I blame her!

This is looking back over Nice as we drove along the coastal road.

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Another reason I wanted to see Monaco is that is where the F1 has one of their grand prix races.  The cool thing is that they use the city streets.   This spot is close to the casino and you can see the rubber marks on the curves.  It must be quite something to hear and see as they also go through a lot of tunnels.  Must be deafening!

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All you James Bond fans will recognise the casino.  My son was quite happy to get a photo of it as he is a huge fan of the movies.  We are too, if truth be told.  🙂  We were able to go in and see the casino.  The opulence!  They open it to groups in the morning and gambling starts at 2pm in the main rooms.  As the day goes on they open more private rooms.   Each opening gets more exclusive as well.  Very posh.

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After the casino we had a short time to wander before getting back on the bus.  We walked along some roof top parks to take in the view.  It’s pretty incredible and the weather was starting to improve as well.  It turned into a lovely day.  In this picture you can see Monaco, France and Italy.

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The next part of the tour was the rock or the old part with the palace.  Apparently about 700 years ago the original Grimaldi dressed as a monk and knocked on the door of the existing fortress and when they let him and his crew in they took the fortress and it’s been in Grimaldi control ever since.  This church was completed in 1912 and Prince Albert (II?) had all the previous princes and princesses moved to be interred there.  This is also the church were Princess Grace was married and buried.

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After the tour we were free to explore and get some lunch.  My favourite part!  We found a small restaurant that was serving langoustines.  I had seen a few blog posts mentioning these and as we can’t get them stateside it was on my list to try.  It was an amazing dish.  The little buggers are a little difficult to eat but it was worth it.  I will definitely be looking to have them again when we go back.  And the dish itself had such a flavourful sauce.  I will have to try to recreate it though as it had fish stock I’ll have to adjust that as my husband doesn’t like seafood.

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As the day improved we found more gardens with lovely flowers.

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Soon enough it was time to head back to the ship.  Once we got back on we enjoyed the view until it was time to leave.

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I can see why people are drawn to the south of France.  It is such a beautiful part of the world.

What an Adventure…On the Seas! :)

We have had an amazing holiday and it was much needed.  Tomorrow we make the trek back stateside.  Fingers crossed it will be a better flight than the last!  And I have loads of posts to do based on our trip and today I start with our home on the seas.

Our ship was the Adventure of the Seas:

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We were very excited as we approached the ship.  It’s amazing how large they are.  This ship is due for a refit next year so it was a bit tired but very clean and the crew for the most part were extremely friendly and helpful.  Given they have about 1000 people working there you won’t get sunshine from everyone but I’d say the vast majority really tried hard.  And it shows.  While we had issues here and there we felt like they wanted to make things right.  Unlike the couple at the table next to use.  By the end of the cruise they were known as the complaining couple by guests and crew alike!  I’m not sure why they took the cruise but by the end of it they had changed the toilet seat, requested a completely new bed, complained about the food so much they worked themselves up to a dinner with the captain.  They even tried to change their waiters but the rest of the table put their foot down.  It was very strange!

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The captain was hilarious.  In fact after one of his talks a guest asked if he had ever considered a job as a stand up comedian.  He said no but he should because eventually they will figure out he doesn’t know how to drive this thing.  🙂  But actually he and his team were quite good.  When we docked in Cartegena it was pea soup thick fog.  The port had closed but the captain went over the plan with the harbour pilot and the ship was allowed to dock.  And this port is very small.

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I think the best bit about the cruise was the people watching.  They had a welcome back party for members.  Basically if you’ve done a cruise you’re in.  But to get to the highest level you need to have 700 points, which is 700 nights!  There were a few at that level.  Including two gentleman who got on at Malaga.  They came on for eight months.  I just can’t imagine the laundry bill and they had some wild outfits, including turbans, top hats, and car shaped purses.  Some people didn’t know what to think but I thought it was fabulous.  If you can’t have fun, what’s the point?

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What we discovered is that elderly people have turned to cruising as a form of assisted living.  We were taken aback at the amount of mobility scooters and wondered if this was a trend and apparently it’s a lot cheaper to cruise round than go into various homes.  As a consequence there wasn’t much going on at the nightclub on this cruise.

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There was great fun to be had at the quizzes though.  We won twice!  Came close a few other times.  One prize was two umbrellas which were fine until it became rainy and windy.  So those were left in a bin in Lisbon.  Absolutely useless!  Then we won a cap, keychain, document holder, camera holder, and a blingly light up ring.  I liked that one!  I wore it that night for a bit of fun.

The ship also had a peekabo bridge where you could see the bridge.  That was very interesting to watch.  Such a small section of the ship that controls all but there it was.

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There were some characters on the cruise like the american woman who was shocked we didn’t drink ourselves under the table.  She once had a $3800 bar bill on a cruise!  Crikey.  And as most of the people on the cruise were Brits we had a blast zinging back and forth.  Though when she was standing there she finally said to me she didn’t understand a thing we were saying.  I had to explain there is English english and American english.

But the best bit is that we met some really lovely people at the Champagne bar and that became our watering hole.  We’d all meet up before and after dinner and just had a great time.  And I’m pleased to say some great new friendships were started.  🙂  Dinner at Portofino’s was an absolute blast.

We did take the opportunity to go as far front as we could.  I did resist the “king of the world” bit.  But I did have to hang on as it was very windy!

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Stay tuned for more stories!


Two nights ago we won the first of two quizzes and we won two umbrellas. 1/2 hour in Lisbon and they are broken. A very rainy gusty day. We found a restaurant that has tables inside and we’ve taken refuge.

We did go up to the castle which was interesting. We’ll have to come back as it looks like a lovely city. Just not today!



We woke this morning to pea soup. The fog was that thick, couldn’t even see the water! Finally it cleared and we could see the city.

I liked it as it was a very short walk to the sites. It’s a small port that is shared with the Navy. One boat left this morning with the sailors lined up looking serious blasting rock music!



Anything in Valencia is the best in Europe or the world. At least that’s what our guide said of everything. It got to be quite funny after awhile.

It’s a beautiful city and we had another lovely day. The cathedral was interesting as it took 500 years to build so there are many styles in the construction. They managed to make it work though.


Palma de Mallorca

We’re tired today. We took a bus from the ship that was supposed to drop us near the cathedral but because of the marathon we were dropped far enough away that we weren’t on the map we were given. So we bumbled about for awhile.

We did find it and it’s beautiful. There was a mass inside so no photos but one. When we went in the second time in hopes the mass was over so I could get photos the choir was singing. Their voices soared. So beautiful.



We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Got my sea legs, first day at sea was a bit wobbly for me. But that has passed. I’ll be doing quick posts on my trip and proper ones when I get back.

We’re in Malaga today. The weather couldn’t be more perfect was we wonder round. And an amazingly clean city. It looks freshly swept!

I am enjoying sangria as I write. All very civilised. 😊


Our Annual Trek

My dad’s birthday is in August and every year we load up the car and head to Lake Champlain for a few days of getting away from it all and to celebrate his birthday.  The kids love it as they get to sleep on the RV and we love it as it is a great break from everything.  We’ve fallen into a pattern of traditions which gives us something to look forward to.

Because the RV park is on one of the islands my husband and I have to take a ferry in the morning and evening to get back and forth from the hotel and my parents.  We start our days with this view.

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It’s hard to  have a bad day when you are surrounding by this.  🙂

My dad loves to golf.  So last year I asked if we could play a round.  Now, I haven’t a clue how to golf outside of mini-golf.  I had to go buy a collared shirt as there is a dress code.  And they are strict about it!  Of course I don’t have clubs so I just used my dad’s which are left handed.  I actually did pretty well with them.  I think I’m able to play right handed or left handed.  Saves me buying some clubs as this is a once a year thing.  We went out again this year for a “lesson”.  It’s really just an excuse to hang out with my dad.  I had some good shots and some shots that well, ahem, there are no words.

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The wind brings all sorts of cloud formations and it is fun to just relax and watch it go by.  My parents have a lovely spot that is shaded and near the course at the park.

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Another fun tradition is bowling!  We had such a blast playing a few games.  And we were proud of our son who played the first time without bumpers and even got a strike.  The ball slowly rolls down towards the pins, suspense builds like crazy, and the pins are gently knocked down.

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I get a little bonding time with the two little fluff balls we call puppy dogs.  It’s so funny actually having lap sized dogs on my lap.  Our dogs think they are lap dogs but when they get on our laps we can’t see over them!   This one is Tommy, he was sniffing my phone as I took the picture.  🙂

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Of course there is plenty of time to enjoy good food and wine.  🙂  Time slows down for us a bit and the kids just enjoy being silly and we enjoy hearing them laugh.

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Traditions are a good thing….