France, Monaco

44th Country – Half Day in Monaco and the Colorful Menton

Nested in between Nice and Menton is one of the richest and smallest countries in the world – Monaco. It was a scenic 30 minutes ride by Bus 100 which the bus stop was a block away from our hotel and only cost €1.50 per way per person (or a day-pass for €5.50). After having a quick breakfast from a nearby bakery, we hopped on Bus 100. The bus made so many stops along the way and when it was near Monaco, there were a few scenic spots that we tried to get a note so we can revisit them by driving if we want to.

There are a few stops in Monaco and we got off at the stop: Monte Carlo/Casino/Tourist Office……not because of the casino but because of the post office to check out their stamps hahaha! The post office is inside a fancy plaza…well building in Monaco looked fancy! There is a counter inside the post office dedicated to selling collectible stamps but it is closed in the weekends 🙁 We went up to the regular mail counter and asked for collectible stamps, they only have a few ones that they are selling at that time and we got a sheet of the Monaco Grand Prix and Grace Kelly edition stamps. At least the mission accomplished that one more country stamp added to Jason’s collection!

The original plan was to go to Eze and Monaco via Bus 112 but it was hard to locate the bus stop; Google Maps was horrible with the bus routes in French Rivieria. We walked into the Tourist Information Center to ask about the bus stop and they gave us the schedule. The bus stop is actually right in front of the Tourist Information Center, a totally different direction than I expected! When looking at the Bus 112 schedule, it is really not that convenient as the bus is not frequent at all…..2 hours each one! I changed my plan as there’s no way we can make it back to Monaco for lunch so we just stick with exploring Monaco and go to Eze the next day by car.

Since the change of plan, Jason checked if there’s another post office nearby and saw a stamp and coin museum which is a 15 minutes walk away. We decided to walk around the points of interest on the way to the stamp museum. First, we walked to Monte Carlo but the building and “mirror” were completely covered in the shade so we skipped that for now. We continued walking down to the port and pass by many more fancy hotels, luxury condos, and shops.

The port docked with mega yachts. The buildings on the back stacked from one to another so compacted together which reminded me of Hong Kong but all fancy buildings instead.

We are totally not a fan of cities so we didn’t take that many photos in Monaco.

The public swimming pool filled with people:

We reached the stamp and coin museum located on the other side of the port, next to the zoo. At the entrance, there are display cabinets of stamp collectible sheets and they are for sale! Jason and I browsed each one and picked the ones we want to purchase…..another over $40 of stamps! Monaco’s stamps are pretty and meaningful ranging from the famous Monaco Grand Prix, antique cars, beautiful buildings, and landmarks, to famous people. After the purchase, we bought the admission ticket to the museum which was €3 per person.

The museum is not big compared to other museums but it has a complete collection of Monegasque coins started from the first coins in 1640 to the introduction of the euro in 2001. Also, there are a lot of copper engraving plates which showed how the stamps were printed back in the days.

The machine that printed the stamps:

Can you believe it, the fine details were engraved by those tools by hand on the copper plate!

It was an interesting walk through to see the 60+ years of stamps they printed; some are very pretty and must be very expensive today!

After the museum, we didn’t want to walk back all the way to the casino to take that iconic picture so we decided to find the nearest Bus 100 stop to get back to Menton. As I said, we are not city people so city to us is uninteresting.

We got back to Menton just in time for lunch and we went to Little Italy located inside the old town center. There, we ordered the steamed mussels, Jason ordered the seafood spaghetti, and I ordered the shrimp pasta. Jason’s seafood spaghetti was great; fresh ingredients and homemade noodles.

My shrimp pasta was okay, not as shrimp flavorful as I wanted it to be. The mussels were fresh and big portion but overall, we much preferred the flavors at La Trattoria. It was a filling lunch nevertheless and cost €63.50.

After lunch, we walked to the beach/port hoping to get the colorful buildings of Menton pictures and we were right on time this time! Look at the difference the lighting of the sun can make compared to the photos we took yesterday! Jason walked all the way to the end of the port and had to walk on those uneven rocks to get those photos. He asked me to stay in the shade and let him check it out first to see if it’s worth the effort to get down there.

After 15 minutes or so, he texted me to walk down and he helped me navigated those uneven rocks to get to the location…it was tough when pregnant! It was well worth the effort for those perfect postcard photos of Menton, so colorful and beautiful! It’s one of the most picturesque colorful places I have been to. However, I must admit that Menton is great for those postcard photos at a few locations like this one and great seafood but inside the old town itself is not that interesting nor cute.

The walk down to the port offer great photo ops as well.

Then, we walked across the beach packed with locals to check the view from the other side.

The beach has great facilities like plenty of benches and some shades like this one spraying water mist to relief the heat every few minutes.

The view from the other side of the beach, not as great as the one we climbed through rocks to get to.

And then this big pedestrian-friendly area along the beach, barely anyone there!

After all those great photo spots, we headed back to our hotel to get some rest before dinner time. For dinner, we headed back to La Trattoria again which we made the reservation the night before as we know how fully booked they are. We almost had similar dishes (so I didn’t bother to take photos) except for the spider crab spaghetti, we got the seafood spaghetti for two people and it was another huge plate that can easily feed 4 people! One interesting thing was the night before, there was an Italian couple with their cute puppy sitting at a few tables behind us. Today, we saw the same couple again and they were next to our table: I guess we all love the food at La Trattoria that we come back again! The couple told us that they are from Italy and frequently make trips “across the border” to dine here. I would too if I am only 15 minutes away 😉

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