European Sabbatical - Monaco

Visiting Monaco and Yacht Watching

Nik and I visited Nice, France for the first time in late September 2022. We didn’t explore any of the neighboring towns along the French Riviera, nor did we go to Monaco which is right over the border. As we planned a return trip to Nice this past April, I wanted to make sure we visited Monaco just to knock off another country visited. A quick 20 minute train ride accomplished that as we spent an afternoon in Monaco. Our quick trip also coincided with prep work for the Monaco Grand Prix F1 Race, which at the time of our visit, was just a few weeks away.

Train to/from Monte Carlo

We took one of the Nice trams a short ride to the train station and bought tickets from a machine. To say the process was a shitshow, is an understatement. Lines at all of the machines and no one working to help move things along. Once we had tickets in hand, we figured out the track we needed to be on and were on our way. It was a standing room only ride but it was quick, so it was ok. (The return was far worse because of delays and skipped trains so each train car was packed as could be.)

Prince's Palace of Monaco in the Distance, April 2023
Prince’s Palace of Monaco in the Distance, April 2023

There isn’t any sort of border control or ID check, so that was easy. But we ran into an issue with our cell service and data. Since Monaco wasn’t part of our Spanish phone plan, we ended up getting an eSIM for the day which worked fine. (For eSIM usage, we recommend Airalo.)

Yacht Watch in Monaco

After getting off the train we walked about 15 minutes towards the port where we’d eventually end up having lunch. It’s no joke when they say the rich live in and sail to/from Monaco.

Port Hercule, Monaco’s main port, was lined with some of the largest yachts I have ever seen.

Superyachts in Monaco
Superyachts in Monaco, April 2023

I started getting into “yacht watch” very briefly while on our trip to the Amalfi Coast, then again on our first trip to Nice and enjoyed looking at the yachts whenever Nik and I ventured to Marina Port Vell in Barcelona.

$80M Superyacht Yalla in Monaco
$80M Superyacht Yalla in Monaco, April 2023

I find it fun to look up who owns these yachts and the majority are foreign business owners with lots and lots of money.

One example is the 79m (259ft) $100M super yacht Mimtee, owned by Najib Mikati, a Lebanese-born politician, and businessman who is also the Prime Minister of Lebanon. Can you tell which yacht is his in the picture below?

$100M Superyacht Mimtee in Monaco, April 2023
$100M Superyacht Mimtee in Monaco, April 2023

Above: video of some yachts, including Mimtee

Port Hercule, Monaco, April 2023
Port Hercule, Monaco, April 2023

Not Monaco related, but a day later as we were finishing a walk with Koval in Nice, we were dockside to see a yacht back in. It was very cool to see because I can’t imagine being the captain and having to pull that off, sometimes in some very narrow spaces.

Lunch in Monaco

I stumbled upon La Brasserie de Monaco through Instagram and thought it’d be the perfect lunch spot for us. Not fancy, as most places seemed to be, nor did it require a dress code. It also turned out to be right along a main road in Monaco where some of the viewing platforms for the Grand Prix race were being built.

A Lamborghini Driving Through Monaco with F1 Race Prep in the Background
A Lamborghini Driving Through Monaco with Grand Prix Race Prep in the Background
La Brasserie de Monaco
La Brasserie de Monaco on the Right

Nik had their schnitzel (24€) and I had their burger (18€). Both were good, as were the beers we had. We hadn’t looked up too much else so we walked along the port and stopped for a drink at Le Pattaya before finding a different cocktail bar that would break the bank a little.

Équivoque Exclusive Rooftop Bar

No joke, Équivoque Exclusive Rooftop Bar, is the name of the cocktail bar. It’s located on the roof top of the boutique hotel Miramar, overlooking the port, and we found it by searching Google Maps for cocktail bars.

View from Équivoque Exclusive Rooftop Bar
View from Équivoque Exclusive Rooftop Bar

There isn’t really a menu. Rather, the waitress brought over a box with perfume shaped bottles of scents that are the base of very specific cocktails. I felt awkward taking pictures as she described things and sprayed1Sprayed on thin pieces of paper like a perfume sample in a mall. samples for us, but the drinks ranged from 32€ to 100€. Here is a sample of the box presentation from their Instagram:

Èquivoque Terrace Exclusive Monaco
Èquivoque Terrace Exclusive Monaco

We knew Monaco could be expensive and these drink prices took the cake. Nik and I each had two drinks. The first round we both had cocktails, one for 36€ and one for 43€. Our second round was a bargain with a 19€ beer for Nik, while I had another cocktail. As the kids say, YOLO.

Cocktails at Équivoque Exclusive Rooftop Bar, Monaco
Cocktails at Équivoque Exclusive Rooftop Bar, Monaco
The Bill at Équivoque Exclusive Rooftop Bar, MOnaco
The Bill at Équivoque Exclusive Rooftop Bar, Monaco

Putting a Bow on Monaco

After these drinks we decided to head back to the train station for the return ride to Nice. While It was nice to check off another country, Monaco was very underwhelming for us. We didn’t shop. It’s a small area so there’s not a whole lot to see. We don’t gamble so we skipped the casino, plus I think it had a dress code and we dress for comfort, not style. I don’t know that I need to visit again, but given it was convenient and we had the time, I’m glad we went. It was cool to watch the Grand Prix race a few weeks later and recognize some of the places we had seen during our afternoon in Monaco.

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