Saturday, July 10, 2010

Monte Carlo- Day Three

This morning we decided to visit the Musee Oceanographique. I love aquariums, especially the Dallas World Aquarium, so I was pretty excited about going. We bought our tickets and headed over to the turnstiles. The tickets had an electronic barcode on them, and you put it face down on a reader on the top of the turnstile. When it was validated, a light on the top turned green, and you were allowed to enter. The aquarium was mainly on the lower floor (labeled -1), so we made our way through all of that level. There were some interesting tanks, but nothing too exciting. I was actually kinda bummed out, and hoping there'd be more. We went up a level to the main floor (labeled 0), and there were a lot of artifacts from early oceanography. It was intriguing, but I'm more of a live fish kind of person! We knew there were higher floors, but we saw a gift shop at one end of the floor we were on, so we headed that direction first. We went inside and browsed for a bit and then decided it was time to check out the rest of the museum. We couldn't go back through the same entrance we had come in, and it appeared the only other way out led completely outside. We were confused... We asked the lady behind the register and from what we could garner, she basically told us the gift shop was the final exit and we couldn't get back in. What?!? We had only seen half the museum! We walked out the doors, to the outside, and then attempted to gain entrance through the main gates again. We put our tickets on the readers and this time they didn't turn green. Booooo! Let us back in! There was a museum employee nearby, so we tried to explain what happened. He didn't speak English, so we weren't sure if he understood us. Finally he said something to us which included the phrase "faux pas" and we were like, "Yes! Faux pas!" We showed him that our tickets had only been purchased 45 minutes prior, so he let us back in. Thank goodness! We headed up to the second level (labeled 1, weird right?) and perused some more of the history and early specimens collected by Prince Albert and Jacques Cousteau. It's pretty amazing what they were able to accomplish without the benefit of the modern conveniences we have today. Next we went up to the top of the museum, which overlooked the city and the Sea. We took some great pictures up there, and then checked out the rooftop cafe. Part of it was uncovered and part was "inside." We opted for inside, hoping that meant air conditioning. Nope! We sat there for a few minutes, without being addressed by a waiter. That was long enough for us! We didn't feel like having bad service AND sweltering heat!

We left the museum and headed in the direction of the Prince's Palace. Along the way there were lots of narrow alleyways filled with souvenir shops and little cafes. One of them advertised air conditioning and we were sold! The food wasn't too bad, but I saw something concerning the bread that I wish I hadn't seen! The waiters put out a little basket of bread on each table, and whatever pieces didn't get eaten would go back into their main bread basket for reuse. Gross. I've never worked in food service, so I'm not sure, but I really hope that's not common practice! Anyways, this reminds me of something I wanted to mention. We've noticed that wireless credit card machines are very popular at restaurants in Europe. The waiters just bring a small device over to your table and run your card right there instead of bringing it back to a terminal. The receipt prints out right there and you're good to go. Pretty efficient!

After our lunch, we finished our trek to the Prince of Monaco's Grimaldi Palace. Let me just say that this place is amazing. You're only allowed to tour part of it since it still serves as the home and workplace for the Prince. Each room is ridiculously over the top, with every square inch covered in some sort of decoration. I really wish they would've allowed pictures! There are paintings in every room of famous people in Monaco's history. You know you've made it when you get your likeness done in a life-size painting! Every room had a different motif and a different story. There were ancient vases, chests, documents, etc, scattered throughout the Palace. Jer's favorite items were these really neat clocks where the hand stuck straight up and the numbers were written on globes that spun around horizontally. So the hand stood still while the globes rotated. He said, "I want one of those for our house." Yeah, okay. "Excuse me, Mr. Prince - we'd like one of your clocks. Just put it on my tab. Thanks."

We had done a ton of walking that day, in the muggy weather, so we decided to head back to the hotel for some relaxation. We watched the Germany match in our room and then took a cab to Casino Square. It was almost 11pm by this time, so I guess we had gotten used to the Monte Carlo dinner tradition of eating super late! We ate at Cafe Paris, which was fitting since that's the city we were headed to the next morning! I had a delicious chocolate milkshake with dinner, and we topped it off with a yummy ice cream dessert. Decadent much? Who cares! I'm on vacation! :)

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