Sunday, 14 August 2016

August 6, 2016- Monaco

We were supposed to meet up at the appointed tour bus at 9:00 am the next morning, but the ship was late docking and there was a huge mess of people waiting to get off the ship. They didn't have separate lines for people who had to meet excursions/ people disembarking permanently at Savona/ sightseers. As usual, organization continues to be a problem for Costa. They hadn’t told us to meet the group so we were nervous we’d miss it, but we did meet up with the group at the bus after all and we set off for Monaco.

The tour was in French and Italian and the guide spoke both fluently. She also spoke some English and we felt well taken care of. We could understand most of the French and the Italian filled in the rest. It was a two hour drive to Monaco.
In the bus on our way to Monaco finally!
Our first view of Monaco.
We were warned to bring our passports in case they were checked entering Monaco, because they are not a part of the EU (Bill had to get his out of the "secure" storage on the ship, they didn't ask him for ID when he retrieved his passport, so we don't think it was really that secure). We didn't have to show our passports after all.

We looked around Monaco-Ville first and were guided to the outside of the palace, which was surprisingly cheap looking to us. We then had some free time. We grabbed a delicious sandwich and ate it on a bench overlooking the iconic view of Monaco. We took some pictures from the lookout, browsed in some souvenir shops, took in the view from the other side of the palace, admiring the old cannons. We grabbed an ice cream before rendezvousing with the tour group at the bus garage.

We were thrilled that we had finally made it to Monaco.
Monaco looks as you would expect it to look, except for perhaps the palace which wasn't very impressive.
Bill went crazy with the photos.

Then April took photos.

Then we had to do a selfie or two.

We've never seen so many huge yachts in one place before.

Bill loves his cannons.
In the bus again, we drove over to Monte Carlo. It was very, very hot and humid. The foliage is very tropical and the cliffs are so high with everything built up close together below all the way to the sea. It is a very strange sight for us, coming from Canada where we don’t pack everything in so close together, but it is a very beautiful and picturesque view.

The guide walked with us up the streets where we could see the hairpin corners and tire marks from the Grand Prix. We strolled up steps through a garden to outside the famous Monte Carlo casino. It is evident that there is a lot of money around. We’ve never seen so many Rolls Royces, Ferraris, Bentleys, and luxury boutiques concentrated in so small an area—not even in Las Vegas. The exclusivity of these vehicles becomes diminished in a place like this, because there are so many of them.

We were given some more free time again and we wandered by the casino, some of the boutiques, and picked up a cold drink at a café. We wandered around a lush garden and then walked back down through the streets to the bus garage.

The gardens were tropical and lush.
The Monte Carlo Casino.

Hairpin corner on the Grand Prix route.
Pole position.
We were in Monaco for about three hours, but we had to start driving back to Savona, so that we could board the boat in time to leave. It was about a two hour drive back.

View leaving Monaco into the French Riviera.
The charming sites of Savona.
Finishing our last Costa Excursion ever.
We arrived back at the ship at about 4:45 PM and boarded.

We went to our room, dropped off our bags, and wandered the ship a little bit, since we didn’t see much of it while aboard. We really didn’t miss much. We tried to have a snack in the buffet, but there wasn’t much worth eating, everything was very lackluster or downright disgusting with the exception of the fruit salad.

The adults only 16+ pool, which we had considered visiting, was overrun with under 16 year old children, jumping into the small pool with huge splashes and making an earth moving noise (no enforcement of rules happening here).

The main pool deck was crowded, extremely loud (animation team was in full swing again getting the occupants pepped up for dancing to crap music), and filled with smokers. The noise level here was almost as high as at our EDM concert at Ushuaia in the front rows by the speakers and we could not understand how people could ever contemplate "relaxing" here.

Some weird dance or aerobics lesson was deafening on the pool deck. It reminded us of our experience last year on the Costa Magica. We were glad we didn't bother trying to decompress by the pool on the Costa Fascinosa.
We stopped into the gym to fill some water bottles up, so that we could have drinking water in our cabin (you can't drink tap water without getting sick apparently as it is so chlorinated and we weren't about to pay Costa's water prices).

We tracked down our English speaking host, Raymond, to ask about disembarkation procedures for the next day.

We then returned to our room and ordered room service for dinner. We relaxed, listening to Harry Potter, and we watched some Summer Olympics on TV (muted because it was in Italian). We then packed.

It’s hard to believe that the vacation is almost over, but we will be happy to get off the ship. It has served it’s purpose as a vehicle to transport us to some interesting destinations, but the ship and the cruise experience in itself is not our cup of tea (and the tea is terrible on this ship!).

The Costa Diadema followed us around the Mediterranean to some of the same ports. It's newer and bigger. This is the port of Savona.
The Costa Diadema is huge. It's hard to show how big it is.
We actually spent a lot of time in the robes and slippers provided in our cabin. 
The sunset was gorgeous.

We went by Monaco that night. You can see the distant lights in this picture.

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