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Dr John Hawkins

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Posted on 2011/03/18 23:04:30 (March 2011).

[Saturday 12th March 2011]
For our last full day we were ending our trip in style with a day in Monaco, staying at the famous Hotel Hermitage.

We got up and had breakfast at our hotel in Villefranche early, keen to make the most of our time in Monaco, where we arrived a little before 11. We headed straight to the Hermitage, and again found our room was ready (presumably no-one had stayed there the night before).

The Hermitage is a wondrously grand and opulent hotel - this is underlined somewhat by the amount of space used just in the corridors and foyers - in a lesser hotel they could squeeze quite a few more rooms in with this space. Our room - a junior suite - was similarly grand, the ceiling was about three times Chie's height, the decor was rather splendid, and we had a juliette balcony overlooking the millionaire's yachts in the harbour below, and from there looking out to sea. I rather felt we had arrived.

After taking all of that in, we set out for a wander, keen to see many of the things we hadn't managed to see on our last trip, largely because of the oppressively hot weather. It seems though that extreme weather conditions are to be a feature of all our visits to Monaco, as today there were very strong winds. Still, this was, for me at least, easier to cope with than the heat, and we made the best of it regardless. We hadn't really seen the old town and the area around the Palais Princier at all on our last trip, and I really enjoyed this - much of Monaco is rather unattractive modern apartment blocks, but there are some really nice buildings in the old town. Whilst we were in the old town we had a quick lunch at a little cafe, and bought some chocolates from the Chocolaterie de Monaco, and also poked our noses in at the Oceanographic museum, but decided just to go to the gift shop.

After this we headed back to the hotel briefly, then ventured out once more to take a look around the shops near the Casino. This is where one is led to believe the super rich spend their money on designer clothes and expensive baubles. We actually didn't really go in anywhere, and instead just had a modestly priced coffee at the famous Cafe de Paris, near the casino.

Heading back to the hotel once more, we decided to give the attached spa - Les Thermes Marins - a go. It wasn't really my sort of thing - I'd hoped for some nice hot pools to lounge around in, but with the exception of the sea water swimming pool it was all devoted to treatments etc. So after a quick swim, Chie went for a short time to the sauna, and I headed back to our room.

Next I decided to venture out again to try and find a bottle of Champagne, being somewhat loathed to pay the hotel prices for such a fungible commodity. Thanks to Google I found a branch of Nicolas about a 10 minute walk away, and therein purchased a bottle of good old Veuve Clicquot. We then spent a shamelessly self indulgent hour or so lounging around in the hotel, drinking champagne, eating macarons and chocolates, and looking out over the yachts in the harbour as dusk settled over Monaco. Rather splendid.

In the evening, we headed out for dinner at an Italian restaurant called Il Terrazzino, which I'd read some very good things about. It was a fantastic meal - mountains of delicious Italian food - 8 antipasto dishes followed by three pasta courses and four different desserts to pick from. Absolutely fantastic - easily the best meal of the holiday.

To round off the evening - and the trip - we headed over for the mandatory flutter at the casino. As before, I changed 50 Euros into chips, and this time won after about four rounds at the roulette table, bringing my capital to a staggering 80 Euros. I decided to call it a night at that point and walked away rather happily with a 30 Euro profit.

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