Day 6 of my European road trip took me back to Monaco for the first time since 2000 and to the site of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. I was very excited to go to both places and neither disappointed although the costs in Monaco are outrageous,
Monte Carlo, Monaco
To say that Monte Carlo is nice is an understatement. It is fabulous, gorgeous, incredible, stunning and any other word you can think of to describe fantastic. All the glitz and glamor of Monaco and Monte Carlo is warranted and it lives up to the hype.
As you walk or drive around Monte Carlo, you can’t help but notice all the amazing expensive cars. We saw Ferrari’s, Bentley’s Rolls Royce’s, Porsche’s, Maserati’s etc. like they were going out of style. It almost became commonplace like your 4th day on safari when you’re like “ugh, another fuckin’ elephant”.
However, it never really gets old. From walking around and seeing all the high priced car dealerships to seeing the marina where all the mega yachts dock to the beautiful city, mountain background, Monte Carlo has it all.
It is the world’s second smallest country, slightly larger than Vatican City but very tightly packed with narrow streets and the richest of the rich. This was the first time I ever stayed over night in Monaco. We stayed at the fabulous Le Meridien resort with a great pool and private beach of Avenue Princess Grace. It was great except for the outrageous prices.
For instance, water from the mini bar was 8 euros. That’s like $10 for a small bottle of Evian. Parking was $60 and apparently that’s universal in Monaco so there’s no getting around either and trust me I tried!
The last time I was there, I took a taxi there with friends from Nice; which is only 20 minutes away via a great coastal corniche made famous by Grace Kelly. It is a beautiful road and very fun to drive.
Aside from cars, yachts and Price Albert-Monaco is famous for the Casino Monte Carlo. It is as awesome as you want it to be. To see it lit up at night is fantastic. It is undoubtedly the centerpiece of Monte Carlo and you can feel like James Bond walking inside. Just make sure after 10pm you have a jacket on or they won’t let you inside.
All in all, Monaco is a great spot to fantasize about how the other half lives and see for yourself what classy excess looks like. Not to mention the views are outstanding and the weather is perfect. I probably wouldn’t stay here longer than a night unless you’re on someone else’s dime. But I would definitely like to come back sometime soon for the Formula One Grand Prix through the streets on Monaco or the Masters tennis event held here each Spring right before the French Open.
Turin or Torino as the Italians say, is different than I expected it to be. I didn’t know much about it until it got to host the 2006 Winter Olympics and ever since then I wanted to go.
Aside from the Olympic legacy, it is most famous for two reason; Fiat and Juventus. Fiat is based and manufactured in Turin, which is apparently like the Detroit of Italy only a lot nicer, although to be fair I’ve never been to Detroit. Juventus, for those that don’t know, is one of the most famous soccer clubs in the world and has had some of the best players ever play for them such as the great Zidane. Unfortunately, this past weekend was an International break for European soccer so I didn’t get to see a game in Turin. However, I did see Juventus play in Rome a few years ago.
Turin has a lot on common with Milan. It feels big and somewhat industrial and looks older and dirty on the surface. But as you move into the center you see that it has a lot of character and more so resembles Rome with a ton of different little piazzas and great outside dining cafes.
Eating in Turin, as in all of Italy is amazing. We actually had two dinners at two different restaurants because we couldn’t decide between pizza and pasta (the age old decision in Italy) or the restaurants so we went to both! The second, Da Ciro, owned by a former Juventus footballer, was Napoli style pizza and off the charts good and CHEAP-only 5 euros for a margarita pie.
The main sights in town are the main square or piazza as in most of Italy and they have a tower that is the most iconic building called, Mole Antonelliana. It is a pretty cool place to check out although nothing really special.
The views are pretty good although it’s located on one side of the city so the views are limited to three good sides. The best part of the experience is the elevator ride up which is right up the gut of the tower. So it is like you’re suspended in mid air and if you look up all you see is a small light hole at the top of the tower. Bring a student ID and it’s only 4 euros, otherwise it’s 6.
Turin was a nice place to spend a night and walk around and I would definitely recommend checking it out. Try and time your visit for a Juventus match!