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Monaco


                                                 Monaco - October 1997   

                                                              Vicky Blitz

Our tour group was given just one day in Monaco. That's all we needed. It is a casino country. That's IT. There is no other industry other than tourism. No land to farm. No factories. Just gambling. But it is gambling for the wealthy, not the hoi polloi. The state was just about bankrupt when an earlier ruler realized that, if they couldn't come up with a plan, they would soon be very poor. They borrowed funding from banks in Europe and built the casino in the grandest manner possible to attract the rich, and it worked! The plan worked, indeed, and, in just a very few years, they were solvent. Today, it is a mecca for wealthy Europeans to come and play, and tourists to come and gawk at the opulence and splendor, as we did.

Our bus took us down the coast from Nice where we had spent the night. For mile after mile, the terrain is steep. The rocky hills go straight up into mountains and drop clear down to the ocean. Expensive homes are perched on every possible rocky crag of land, many on land so steep one might think it impossible to build there. I cannot find the words to express the beauty.

We drove onto the island, parked the bus, took two escalators, and one elevator, and then one more escalator to get to the point where we did a tour of the cathedral. Princess Grace and Prince Rainier were married there, and she was burned there following her fatal car crash. We walked up the hill, through the streets of the town lined with tourist shops, stopped occasionally to purchase souvenirs until we reached the top of the rock where Grimaldi Palace is located. We took our pictures and then started back down. As we were leaving, Prince Rainier rushed from the palace and sped away in his car. A few minutes later his helicopter took off from the 'copter pad.

We walked to the famous Monte Carlo, which is indeed quite grand. They have a special little area just for tourists to play the slot machines. I believe every one played, but only three or four of us won anything. I was about $3.50 richer when I left, so I can say "I played at Monte Carlo and won!!!

After the casino, we were given an hour to ourselves before we were to meet and go back down to the bus. We took pictures of the lovely gardens, split up into little groups, and went our separate ways for lunch. It was a delightful experience just to be there for a couple hours, but I couldn't help but think, how very "ho hum" it must be to live in such a small, limited area, no matter its beauty.

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