A Bonus Country

After spending a lot of time in our lovely (really! biggest Ibis room ever!) hotel room on Sunday and Monday due to the rain and the fact that lots of things were closed on both days, we decided to take advantage of the fact that our train to Paris did not depart until 8 pm and do a little sightseeing. Although there are more art museums in and around Nice, we opted to save what little art-viewing attention we have left for Paris. Instead, we decided to hop on a train to visit the aquarium in Monaco. We had come through Monaco on the way from Florence, but didn’t feel like we could count it in our list, as we didn’t even see it since the train station at Monte Carlo is underground.
As Tuesday was a holiday in most of Europe as well as the US, we got to wait a while for the train (longer than the actual ride). We arrived and followed the signs up the hill to the aquarium.

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I guess the professional cyclists who live here don’t mind the hills (and like the tax laws), but I would not want to bike in Monaco. Once at the Musee Oceanographique de Monaco, we noted a line of about a dozen people waiting to buy tickets and no one at the automatic ticket dispensers. Not at all sure that the PIN-less chip card would work, Maureen stayed in line while I tried the machine. Voila! Nearly instant tickets! Note to Americans who plan to travel in Europe before we can get chip-and-PIN cards–get a chip card, they work more often than not (and much more often than the chip-less ones) in machines.

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We went in the museum and, noting it was noon, directly to the rooftop café. Good move. It was already buzzing when we sat down, but got much more crowded over the next hour. Many families were apparently spending the holiday at the aquarium. I enjoyed moules et frites (better than in Belgium), while Maureen had entrecôte. Not bad for a museum café.
After we were finally able to pay the bill (most of the waiters were, shall we say not college-student age, and the rush was taking its toll) we began with the views from the rooftop.

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We then worked our way down, seeing some of the treasures from the marine expeditions of Prince Albert I and learning (a little) about the pioneering science conducted on those missions.

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(Side note: As we were approaching the museum, I noted that it has some animal names on the outside, including polar bear and albatross. I found it unlikely that these creatures would be inside–but there they were, preserved by taxidermy. Actually pretty cool.)

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Sadly, not much of the museum part was translated, so we could mostly look at artifacts and only read the 10-20% that was available in English.

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