One of my favorite travel days ever was last spring, when I spent two weeks gallivanting around western Europe. After our time in Switzerland, we moved on to Nice, France, and spent an evening in the tiny nation of Monaco. Monaco happens to have one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world, and so it’s rather wealthy and fancy – a great excuse to get dressed up, have a fancy dinner and gamble (for the gents) or sip cocktails (for the ladies) at the famous Monte Carlo Casino. The experience was so far outside my everyday experience, but at the same time it was so fun to pretend to be sophisticated for an evening.
Monaco also happens to be gorgeous, located on the French Riviera with cliffs and hills, and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We stopped at many points throughout the evening to snap photos from slightly different angles.
It was also an interesting night because Grand Prix car race was coming up. Parts of the nation were shut off from traffic completely, and it took us an hour longer than planned to get to the restaurant because of the detours (and we had only planned on it taking a half hour or so from the hotel in Nice!) Still, we were perfectly happy to have such a surreal excuse for our tardiness: How many people get to say they drove – and then walked – the path that the sport’s best drivers race on?
Monaco is the second-smallest nation in the world – to Vatican City, which I explored in 2010! I’ve since thought about making it my mission to visit all of the smallest nations in order. The next two (Nauru and Tuvalu) are tiny Pacific islands. Yes please!
Beyond the glitz, Monaco felt like any other European nation I’ve visited so far, albeit slightly fancier. The cobblestone streets, tiny alleyways and vibrant buildings are commonplace for most Europeans, yet I am enthralled by them every time. I do have to say, however, that after paying double what I had been for a cocktail, I was more than ready to head back to France at the end of the night.
Have you ever been to Monaco, or even thought about traveling there?