Happy October everyone! October is my favorite month because of… birthday reasons. Hehe. 😉
Onwards with the trip report!
Monday, September 2
The first port of our Mediterranean cruise was Villefranche, which is a gorgeous village in the Côte d’Azur region of the French Riviera.
At each port, there are so many options and limited time, which is par for the course with a cruise (and is the biggest reason why overall I still prefer land vacations — though I definitely want to cruise again). In Villefranche, we were debating between Nice (to the west) and Monaco (to the east). We decided on the latter. Originally we planned to visit Monaco on our own by taking the train and then getting around to the various sites by a combination of walking or bus. But a few days before our trip, Rob’s foot started acting up (it flares up once in a while making it painful for him to walk on it a lot). So we changed our plans and decided to book an excursion through Disney Cruise Line — Monaco, Monte Carlo & Eze. At least this way we’d have transportation everywhere and Rob could take it easy on his foot.
Our first look at the port of Villefranche!
Here we are on the tour bus! We lucked out and had a pretty small group — maybe 20 people. Another perk of the bus was the air conditioning. Guuuhhhh… it was soooo hot. I am not really a fan of heat.
We drove from the port of Villefranche in France to the country of Monaco. Our first stop was Monaco-Ville where our tour guide took us on a short walking tour of the Old Town. We saw the exterior of the Oceanographic Museum, walked past the houses of Princesses Caroline & Stephanie (the sisters of the current Prince), then did a walk-through of Saint Nicholas Cathedral…
Many members of the Grimaldi family (Monaco’s royals) are buried here, including Grace Kelly.
This is the Prince’s Palace where the reigning monarch Prince Albert II resides. Our tour included a visit inside the palace to see the public staterooms and many historical artifacts (no pictures allowed sadly). It was beautiful but the audio guide wasn’t very interesting to us so we kinda sped through it all. I was hoping to see the changing of the guard but there was some sort of event going on in the square in front of the palace so it was cancelled. Bummer.
I absolutely adored this view — overlooking the harbor towards Monte Carlo.
After a quick lunch, we got back on the bus to head over to Monte Carlo.
Walking up to the square was exhausting — it was so hot, there was no breeze and there were so many stairs (whine whine). On the way, we got to see the famous hairpin bend made famous by the Monaco Grand Prix…
You can totally see the skid marks on the road!
Once we reached the square, I was blown away by the extravagance. It just oozes wealth and luxury. I almost felt out of place. As the square came into view, we first saw the Hotel de Paris in front of us…
Then the famous Casino Monte Carlo was to our left with quite a few expensive cars parked in front of it. I don’t know anything about cars so it was funny to see people taking pictures with them.
We weren’t dressed appropriately for the casino (there’s some sort of dress code) so we just walked around and picked up gelato at Morelli’s. I had citron which was perfectly refreshing for the hot day.
The view of the casino from the gardens across the square.
I love any view overlooking the water.
Our last stop for the day was Eze, which is a beautiful medieval village in France that’s located high up on a hill.
Oh man. It was quite a hike to get to the village. First a steep incline then so many stairs!
In the village, we came across cute shops, art galleries, restaurants & cafes. The narrow shaded pathways were a blessing in the heat.
We walked as far as the Eze Cathedral where there’s a great “rest” area with a view looking back towards Monaco in the distance.
Further up the hill, there is a garden that’s supposed to have a stunning view of the water (there’s a nominal entrance fee) but the long (and hot) day was getting to us so we ended up at a cafe drinking granitas and taking advantage of their wi-fi (hehe).
On the way back, we were treated to amazing views of the port and of the Disney Magic anchored in the harbor.
I had no idea before I did research on cruises but some ports are too shallow for large cruise ships to dock right at the pier. Instead, they have to anchor away from the shore and passengers are taken to land via smaller tender boats. Villefranche was such a port. Here’s Rob on our tender.
And our last look at Villefranche. It was a great day! I wish we were in port long enough to spend some time in Nice as well — but as I always say, that’s for next time. 😉
Next up: Cinque Terre
For more pics, check our Flickr here.