Featured writer: Edds Adventures
I wasn’t really looking forward to Monaco. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting but it wasn’t picturesque or exciting. Fortunately, upon arrival in Monaco, I was pleasantly surprised. I actually really enjoyed my few days here and Monaco definitely has a certain charm. From the sea, you can see a city perched at the bottom of the mountains, palaces high up on cliff tops with a vertical drop down to the sea and a lot of very shiny super yachts. We definitely stand out in the harbour as being the only working boat, our rust stains make it quite obvious that we are only visitors in the marina. Monaco is the second smallest country and the most densely populated in the world. It has a land border of 2.7m which it shares with France and a coastline of 2.5m on the Ligurian Sea (part of the Mediterranean sea).
The last few days here have somehow been both busy and relaxed. There has been a few odd jobs to do on the boat but a lot of time seems to have been taken up by the preparation for visitors and events. One day, we are being checked out by the Prince’s security prior to his arrival the next we are making sure we have lots of posters to give out to visiting school children. The Prince’s visit was definitely the most exciting of the two though.
A train of police motor bikes and black cars pulled up outside the boat as photographers and camera men gathered on the pontoon and soon enough HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco steps out and heads towards the boat. I had been given a camera and told to get lots of photos of him shaking hands with the boat staff and standing in front of the boats name or IFAW’s logo but unfortunately I missed the first hand shake of the day due to not being sure which one was the Prince.
A few weeks ago, I didn’t even know Monaco was a country let alone who its Prince was. But a quick glance to the rest of the crew and I had confirmation of my suspicions and started snapping away. The Prince genuinely seemed to have an interest in the boat and its work as he was shown around.
Anna’s short presentation was a hit and he appeared to enjoy hearing our various sound and video recordings of whales and dolphins. As he was led fore and aft to be shown all the other areas and features of the boat I put my knowledge of the boat into action and started climbing up and down through the hatches so I would always be one step ahead of the tour and therefore increase my chances of getting a good photo.
I soon began to feel uncomfortable as it seemed whichever way the Prince turned I was in front of him with a camera but he nether showed any signs of irritation so I guess he is probably used to it. A few half jokes were made about how he should come sailing with us but although I think he would be keen we all knew it would never be possible due to security concerns. Besides which he soon lost interest when he was informed he would also have to take his turn doing the chores (such as cleaning the heads (toilets) and cooking).
Before long, it was time for the Prince to leave. He had been on board for almost an hour which was much longer then we expected but of course we would have loved it if he could stay longer. HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and Patrick from IFAW exchanged gifts on the aft deck (we received a really great book filled with wonderful photos of all sorts of creatures of the sea) and 5 minutes later we were lounging around drinking tea again.
The whole visit was very relaxed and it was really refreshing to see the trust placed in the general public of Monaco. There was minimal security and life carried on as normal just metres from the Prince and the boat. If the same event was held in Britain I am sure the whole street would have been closed off.
After the Prince had left, we were all invited to a do at the Oceanographic Museum. We put on our best shirts and headed up to the Museum. When we arrived there was a carpet and rope barriers outside the front door but no security so we just strolled right in and started wandering around. Before long we found a member of staff who informed us the event was being held on the roof so we found the stairs and made our way up. There is a great view of Monaco, the surrounding mountains and the ocean from the roof of the Oceanographic Museum which we enjoyed almost as much as the free wine and food. The food in particular was fantastic and we never had a spare hand as we scoffed as much as we could. It was a new experience for me, everyone was in suits or dresses and I was made aware that HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco was not the only influential person at the party. H.R.H. Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, H.E.Mr. Anote Tong (President of the Republic of Kiribati) and President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr.(President of Palau) were present along with many other well-known persons from the world of marine biology and conservation. Fortunately nobody looked down at us and therefore didn’t spot that two members of our party were still wearing flip-flops.
Aside from mixing with royalty, I have had the chance to wander around the old town with its narrow streets lined with cafes and bars, visit the oceanographic museum and check out the palace. I have people watched as Ferrari follows Lamborghini follows Maserati down the streets and experienced drinking in an establishment which insists on lending you blazers as you enter (thank god I changed out of my flowery Bermudan shorts before heading there).
As I mentioned earlier, I had a lot of fun whilst in Monaco but as always I am glad to get back to sea. The next leg of our season in the Med is taking the boat to Athens were we will set out of for a survey in the Aegean sea. I believe we will be looking for Harbour Porpoises there. Miriam (who first appeared on Song Of The Whale a year ago) and Rodrigo (a new sailor type possibly doing more work on the boat in the future) flew out to Monaco and Richard left so now there is 7 of us on for the passage to Greece. Me, Brian (skipper), Mat (engineer), Rodrigo (relief skipper), Anna (scientist), Miriam (scientist) and Luke (scientist).
What a great experience. Did you know that the beach in Monaco contains sand that is fabricated for not sticking to your skin and trucked in? It is more like tiny rocks. Yes, I remember the feeling of being an intruder and not fitting in as not rich (or famous) when I was there. Other European royalty is unlike the British house of Windsor who still think that their subjects must be impressed by their being different than them by showing off status. By the way, you probably meant km instead of m.
I was so close to Monaco when I was vacationing in Nice, France a few years back but I never made the 15 minute drive to Monaco. Looks like your visit was a memorable one! #BulaFijiAirways