The nascent plans for today, Friday, were to walk the length of Monaco – a walk that would barely last an hour – but events and other aspirations meant that they were not to transpire. We booked an excursion from the port of Villefranche entitled ‘Monaco and Monte Carlo on your own’ and we expected a coach trip up there for 11am and to be allowed to roam free for four hours or so. As it was, we arrived at an underground bus station in Monaco at about 11:20 and were told to be back at the coach by 1:00. There was just not time to get to the western border, walk to the eastern side and then back to the coach. As well as that, there was a tremendous crush just to reach ground level, with most involved being older than us. We were both quite cheesed off to say the least.
Hey, we decided (in the 80 minutes we had left) to walk the F1 track. I had it in my mind that it was 2.78 miles long and so, notwithstanding a steep descent, it was quite feasible.
This is the hairpin bend by the Fairmont Hotel and we were able to easily negotiate the lap, neither incurring any dents (unlike the car in the picture) nor seeing any yellow flags or safety cars, also finding time for other sights before reboarding the coach just before 1.
Unbeknown to us, there was a second stage to the day as the bus drove on to Monte Carlo and we had another hour and a half stop in the afternoon. Given we had already walked there – the Casino is right next to the F1 circuit – we felt that if we had known the plans, we could have done a lot more today. As it was, we walked through some nice gardens (public ones, not residents’ private ones, I hasten to add) and stopped for a small coffee and a can of coke, and that will be €8 thank you very much. Free WiFi did help me, very slowly, to upload the three blog posts from earlier in the week. But this is a blog about walking and sadly we didn’t manage as much as we would have liked today.
The return coach trip to Villefranche did pass up Grand Corniche, I think it’s called, where a number of scenes from Hitchcock’s 1955 film To Catch A Thief were filmed. I am sure I recognised actual places from the car chase. In the tyre tracks of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly we tread.
So in some ways, an unsatisfactory day in terms of the communication of the schedule by P&O, but we still made a decent day out of it. It is not very gracious to gripe at having had the time to spend in such a glorious place in fantastic weather, 27 Centigrade. Tonight we sail for a couple of days in Italy though the ship started off before realising that three tender boats were desperately still making their way back!
On a downbeat note, today was the funeral of a former work colleague, John Ingram. 2015 has seen more friends and acquaintances pass away than in any other year I can recall and John was always a friendly face and voice to me. Obviously I wasn’t there today, but my thoughts did turn to him during the afternoon. I hope he had a good send-off.