For the entire 6 week duration of my time in Cagnes sur mer, I will only get be getting one day off. I have already spent that day in order to go to Monaco, which is a literal hop, skip, and jump from where I am staying. This will be the first time I have ever seen a country, and a large portion of it, in one day, and the second time I have crossed a country's borders by foot.
I had originally planned on waking up nice n' early, but then I was influenced by the usual suspects to go out that night, so I ended up waking up at 8am, which is quite late for me. I did get myself moving and out the door by 9am so I could catch the train that goes all the wa to Ventimiglia, Italy. Stay tuned for when I attempt to tackle that adventure. Anyway, I walked the whole 6 minutes to the station and had a completely pleasant ride to Monte-Carlo, Monaco. Immediately you could tell the difference between a French train station and a Monacan train station: it was so CLEAN! And when I emerged into the startling sunlight, I was again struck by how clean everything was. Considering my slobbish habits, I'm not sure how welcome I would be in this country. I couldn't decide which direction to go first, so I just wandered and let my (poor) inner-compass take over. I ended up on a look out over the ocean, with the famous rolling hills of Monaco cresting over the marble and stone buildings.
As I wandered along I ran into the Monte-Carlo Casino in all of its enormous, glittering white glory. I didn't go inside, however, because a: I was a little intimidated and b: I've heard it isn't appropriate to gamble at 10 in the morning. I continued on my completely random trajectory and couldn't help but notice all of the important looking people, dressed to the nines, either with a briefcase in their hand or a small, rat-like dog. This is a country of affluence. Don't get me wrong, every person I encountered was lovely, and there were plenty of foreigners speaking all sorts of languages I did and did not recognize.
I ended up walking along the entire coast of Monaco east back towards the border of France until I eventually crossed it, which was very anticlimactic considering I didn't even notice I had crossed it until I turned around and saw the sign that told me I would now be entering Monaco. Right on the cusp of the border was a little beach with some of the most beautiful, clear blue water I have ever seen. I guess that's why they call it the Cote d'Azur. There were a small scattering of old people flaunting their bodies and swimming in the water, which was undoubtedly freezing but the sun was equally as warming. There were a few people with wetsuits and snorkels, too. I sat on the rocks to write in my journal, and eventually decided to wade in myself. I didn't go to far in since I kept most of my clothes on for fear of giving the old folks body envy. I lingered here for about an hour, just soaking up the sun, watching the waves, and marveling at the two countries of which I was in between. Eventually though, I got hungry, and had to move on.
I was able to take a bus part of the way back, driven by the best dressed chauffeur and filled with the least-disgusting bus seats you've ever seen, and walked until I found a shit load of people eating outside, laughing, and talking in different languages. Right next to us were sheer cliffs of white rock lined with green vines and palm trees, and nestled underneath were expensive yachts and small sailboats rocking in the wind. I walked along these boardwalks for another 45 minutes, completely entranced, before I got anything to eat. And if something is able to distract me enough from eating, that's saying something.
After I finally got some food in my system, I decided the last thing I wanted to see was the Palais Princier, or the Princes' Palace. For the life of me I could not figure out how to get up to it, so thankfully some kind gentleman pointed out that the way up had literally been in front of my face the whole time and I had just been ignorantly unaware. The climb was actually less than brutal, considering the paths were amongst fountains, shrubbery, and old stone walls. The palace itself was nice, I even got to watch them change the guards, but the view was even better. It is within these moments of looking out beyond turquoise waters and smelling the same salty air and feeling the same warmth of the sun that ancient princesses and princes have felt before you do you feel the most overwhelming sense of gratitude.
My inner-compass then took me to the Jardin Saint-Martin, which snaked across a massively steep cliff accompanied with exotic flowers and the usual astounding views. Once I found my way out, I decided I was exhausted and that it was time to go home. I walked back to my favorite clean train station and was lucky enough to catch the next train back to Cagnes sur mer. I was back home within 45 minutes. While I didn't do everything one can do in Monaco, for a solo trip that lasted no more than a day and cost me no more than 20 euros, I am pretty damn happy with my excursion. I'm sure I will be back, hopefully next time with someone else who can share my joy.