Join us on our new journey to Monaco and Europe! We are so excited, and want to share with you all of our exciting adventures...and maybe some, not so exciting! Thanks for joining us...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Day in San Remo

On the 18th of March, a good friend, Helen, and I, went to San Remo to do some shopping and have lunch. We were on a timeframe, as I was going to the dentist back in Monaco at, we went off early.

After a leisurely drive into Italy, we got to San Remo around 10 AM....and found a parking space on the street where Art and I have parked when we went to market there on Saturdays. I parallel parked like a champ...(NY upbringing) and got my parking ticket, put it on my dashboard and off we went to shop.

The day was brilliant, and we so enjoyed the shopping...sweaters, more pashminas, pesto sauce, table cloths, and more!!!

We had a great lunch, PIZZA in a little cafe' with cappuccino...and just talked for a bit.

We headed back to the car as I had paid for three hours, and go there right on time...but, we could not find where I parked the car....we thought, this is the street, this is the spot, but NO CAR!!! Oh my, what a feeling...CAR IS GONE!!! NOT THERE...what to do?

Now, there were soooooo many Policia at the market, trying so hard to catch BUYERS of knock offs, and the sellers just get shooed away....but no, no police to be found!!!

We walked about ten blocks, staying on the same road...and finally came to a news paper stand, where we asked if they knew where we could find the police. The gentleman was nice, spoke a bit of English, and he called the police.....and...lo and behold...they knew right away, they had my car...WITH MONACO PLATES...they knew it and knew someone would be looking for it!!!

Again, we had to walk many more blocks...MANY...and came to the police station, up a hill...Poor Helen trudging along with me.

Of course, I had to PAY to get a release from the police, but not til AFTER I walked ten blocks to get the paperwork out of the car...and when I got there, of course, it was LUNCH TIME...1:30, and they don't reopen for an hour....I waited...and waited...then a car came and opened the gate...a nice woman came to me and asked me if I was looking for my car...of course, I said yes...and she showed me where it was. The nice policia called her on her cell at lunch and told her I would be she came back quickly...AMAZING!!!!

After retrieving my paperwork, and walking back to the police station, paying my 74 Euro, we headed back to the towing company and paid another 75 Euro there to have them release my car.

Not sure I'll venture out too much in the near future...I do think they towed my car because it had Monaco Plates...getting money out of us "rich"...if we were "rich" we wouldn't be here in the FIRST PLACE...ha ha! No, all kidding aside...I need to read the street markings better, and the road signs...the police said I was in a handicap parking was lined in gold...all others were blue...but in Italy, gold is for handicapped...US is blue...go figure!!!

Well, it's all worked out...we were tired and hot when we arrived home, got a lot of chuckles out of this mess...but, Saturday, we are going AGAIN....SUCKERS!!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Palm Sunday Drive into Italy

On Palm Sunday, Art and I decided on a nice drive into Italy for a great meal...somewhere!! We headed to Ventimiglia, which is just over the boarder from France into Italy, and headed north. The area becomes hilly quickly, and we drove along a river bed. As we drove, we passed many churches with children outside with their palms. Many braided into crosses.

Onward we headed to Dolceaqua, a village on the river's edge, where the water is plenty, and the village hundreds and hundreds of years old. Again, the medieval village sits high above the modern town, with it's castle at the top, almost destroyed by time. The windows glow with light from within, and it shows through the lovely lace curtains. Flowers are plentiful, and the architecture just captures our hearts. Many live in these little medieval villages, with no conveniences of garages or even roads to drive to their front doors with. Just foot paths and cobblestone walks. Amazing, but so much character.

After walking up to the ruins and through the medieval village, we sat for a bit in the town square having a cappuccino, as only the Italians can made. The smell of the coffee is so wonderful and the thick and creamy froth on top is a treat for us. The families gather after their church services, some enjoying just a glass of water, and others a touch of their favorite liquors. Children running around, dogs following close by for a drop of their baguette, and parents, young and old looking on.

We decided to head onward, to another village we had been told about, Apricale...that was settled by the Irish on their way to Rome during the great crusade. Unfortunately, they never made it to Rome, and settled in Apricale, a lovely, very high medieval town. This town has an Irish Flair to the art on the buildings. We drove to the top of the town but were unable to find any parking, so we had to head back down. We stopped just outside of the village at a lovely restaurant called La Favorita, and it is definitely one of ours. The owner met us out front, helping us to park our car, and telling us the history of the area. He was Mario...and was so hospitable. We loved it from the moment we pulled in. He got us a very nice table, which is a chore in these villages on Sundays, so many head to the restaurants after the church service with their large families.

Inside, there was a nice, open fire, cooking lamb, beef and other local delicacies. We asked what was special, and enjoyed a great meal of Italian delights. Art was taken by the lovely fire, we had to take pictures of the gent cooking. Such a treat for us.

Dessert was home made zaglione...what a wonderful thing. Usually you get this served over berries,, not here. They bring out the BIG copper pot and fill your bowl of it at the table...with some little frites, like small muffins, pastry like. It was delightful, but very rich. I enjoyed every much for a diet at this restaurant.
We headed home, following the directions of "Flo"...our GPS system in our car. She is faithful as to how to get us OUT of all these little towns.

I am always amazed at the cultures we are able to find in just a short drive from our wonderful city of Monte Carlo. We go through hundreds of years of history in every drive....amazing!!!

A Few Weekends at Home

I must say, that we slowed down our weekend excursions a bit, due to having two lovely houseguests from the 30th of January through the 25th of March. My, you say, how long is the limit for a house guest??? Well, if the guests have four legs, don't complain, greet us joyously at the door when we come home, and are totally devoted to our daily walks...then they can stay as long as they like.

No, all kidding aside, we were priveleged to have two labrador retrievers, both girls, one black, Oscar, and one yellow, Dijon. The "girls", as they are affectionately called, were left behind here in Monaco when their Mom & Dad moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, to set up house there. Of course, Art says labs are like whores, they love the ones their with, and showed us all the love and affection they had to offer!!! Now, Mom says, they were never "left behind", and we know that well...the loving Mom & Dad entrusted us to their care!!! (better Deb?) LOL

Two or three times a day we took great walks with the girls, along the waters edge, down to the Mala Beach Walk in Cap d'Ail, to Doggie Beach and back...and on and on. One Saturday morning, Art and I took the girls to market in San Remo, and enjoyed a nice lunch after wards. The Girls caused quite a commotion in the restaurant, by just lounging out on the floor next to our table. What a joy to have them with us.

I took a trip back to the States to visit my grandson, and the girls went to doggie heaven, or, Jilly's house, in Gorbio...a doggies B & B...or should I say, B&B & D...Bed, Breakfast and Dinner...American Plan. They were there for two weeks and enjoyed it when brought back to our home afterwards.

We also took the girls for a short road trip to St. Tropez, one Saturday. The girls love the car ride, and loved the walk along the water. Although, it was NOT a nice day to be in St. Tropez, the Mistral Wind kicked up and it was raging at about 40 miles per hour, sand flying everywhere, and just not a good day to be out at a market. But, lunch was superb, and the girls were as good as gold.

On the 25th of March, Deb, the girls Mom, Art and I boarded a plane to JFK airport from Nice. It was quite an excursion, TWO BIG dog kennels, the girls, luggage, and a totally nervous Mom!!! We got them through it all, and the girls met us on the other side of the "pond" with no signs of any wear and tear! Thank God.... (again, Mom was handling this quite well, even took a good nap on the plane!)

Here are our loving boarders...we sure do miss them!!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Festival of Saint Devote', Monaco

On the 27th of January, we walked down to the port of Monte Carlo, called Port Hercules, and witnessed an amazing event. The Festival of St. Devote'. This is the story of a Christian Woman, who is persecuted for her beliefs on the island of Corsica, and after her death, she was placed in a boat and set to sea. A storm came up and blew the boat into Monaco, landing on the shores near the port. It was believed, that where she was entombed on the shores of devote', miracles began to occur. At some point, a few hundred years later, a poor fisherman tried to steal the relics of the tomb and he was bludgeoned to death by local Christians. The icon of St. Devote' became ever greater, and today, over 1600 years after she fell upon the shores of Monaco, the ritual of her death still remains. Each year, there is a Christian service, followed by a ritual of burning a boat in her honor in the square in front of the chapel of St. Devote'. The crowd was large, and the tradition very honorable. School children carrying torches along with Prince Albert and others of the Principality, set fire to this boat. After wards was a wonderful fireworks display over the harbour, accompanied by music.

The pictures are of the square of St. Devote' with it's chapel in the background. What a wonderful festival it was!!!

32nd Annual Monte Carlo CIRCUS

The International Circus of Monte Carlo came to town, with a true Circus Parade on the 19th of January, 2008. We just happened to be in the port, taking our walk, when there was a HUGE crowd gathered. This was a side show of CLOWNS and elephants, entertaining children, and adults, for free. We never got to get close enough to see the show, but it was clear that there were many enjoying the festivities.
The Espace de Fontvielle which is a year round circus structure, housing many events in Monaco, but built specifically for the Monte Carlo Circus, is adjacent to the water and Princess Grace's Rose garden. It's a lovely area of parks and walks, and a great setting for a circus. The animal rights groups may not mind the location of the "side show" because it was directly on the Mediterranean Sea...and the envy of all visitors!
After reading up on this circus, it is the event most loved by Princess Stephanie. The youngest of the Grimaldi children, Princess Stephanie resides over this event, and is present most nights. There are so many acts to see that if you don't go every evening, you will miss an act. Each night the show is different. Acrobats, animal acts, clowns, trapeze artists, and on and on. After about five or six evenings, the competition is voted upon by the Federation of Monaco, and then the rest of the shows are the "Winners Circle" event, which is what Art and I were able to see.
The night we went, there was a great act of two Walrus' playing the Blue's Brothers...quite amusing, along with an Arabian Horse act, Tigers and Lions doing their thing, and many, many acrobats...all with their arms and legs twisted just so as to be able to support four or five others upon them...ok, amazing...the strength and agility is beyond my comprehension! I have enough trouble getting off the floor when I'm down!!!
Girls, there was one act, four Italian Hunks, in all white jackets and slacks, of course, the jackets are removed to show the most unbelievably perfect bods...and they all are able to support one another, climbing up on a table, and doing acrobatics beyond belief. The imagination runs wild.
I took several photos with my cell phone as I forgot my camera, and I have no clue as to how to move them from the phone to the, you'll have to use your imagination on this one!!!
We will attend next years Circus and make sure the camera is with us...GREAT evening, lots of fun, Cotton Candy and all the fixings, can actually get a Grand Marnier Crepe at intermission...only in Monte Carlo!!!