We sorted out our earlier confusion over the various French villages with their various ruins. Lobo was conflating two of them, I was conflating one of those with one other, and Alcalde was basically indifferent. Al, who was invited to come with us over and over again, was a no-show, and probably doesn’t even know where the Mediterranean is.
Anyway, we started out by going to La Turbie, which was the site of the Roman monument that Lobo remembered not seeing. This time, though, all three of us failed to not see it, as it is quite large and we had paid to get in.
This is the Tropaeum Alpium, built in 6 BC to celebrate Caesar Augustus’ subjugation of the people of the Alps. Starting about 1000 years later, people started using the ruins as a quarry to build the surrounding village. It was restored as much as possible over the last century or so by painstakingly matching nearby stones, like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle.
There is also a nice view of the Mediterranean.
We got lunch in town, where Lobo insisted that we get some cheap sandwiches and sit on a bench overlooking the sea…right next to a nice cafe that had lunch specials.
Next we went to Èze, which is a picturesque twisty medieval village with a castle on top. The town has been conquered repeatedly throughout history, and we had no trouble conquering it today, after we paid six euros to go to the top.
There was a nice view of the Mediterranean.
We took a somewhat indirect route to Roquebrune castle, due to certain people’s inexpert handling of mapping devices, but we got there eventually, and were thus able to climb another steep medieval place. This castle was built on high ground, as castles generally are, but as there is even higher ground behind it, it was not really all that defensible, and was eventually abandoned.
It does have a nice view of the Mediterranean, though.
UPDATE: Al does in fact know where the Mediterranean is. He says: “You go to Alviso, face north, and make a hard right.” This is correct, and I suppose unsurprising given Al’s longstanding obsession with Alviso.
After a leisurely breakfast, we went to Monaco with no clear plan in mind except for Lobo to get a Starbucks mug and then wander around. We parked in a car park (garage) right next to the Starbucks, which I think was the same one I parked in 16 years ago. You basically spiral down into the center of the Earth or until you find a parking space, whichever comes first.
But we found a space, and we got mugs, and we wandered, starting with the yacht harbor.
We found some signs for the yacht show that had ended a couple of days earlier. They were just throwing them out!
We saw yachts…
…and a cathedral…
…and a tiny police car…
…and the palace, where we weren’t allowed to take pictures.
We were too early to get into the casino, and Lobo probably wasn’t dressed well enough anyway. And there was supposed to be a tourist information office that would stamp your passport with a Monaco stamp, but it seems to be gone. Still, Monaco is good place to wander around on a sunny day.
We left Monaco at around 4:00 and drove to Èze, which I remembered from the 2000 trip. Lobo had gone there a few years earlier, except that he didn’t actually go up to the castle ruin at the top. His wife and daughter went, but Lobo just sat in the car because he thought that his wife was just going to the restroom, and that his daughter had gone to look for her. He sat there for two hours until they came back and told him all about it. Seriously.
Anyway, he wanted to go, so we drove up there…and then he said he didn’t think that was really the place. Maybe it was La Turbie. So we drove there. La Turbie doesn’t have a castle, but it has a Roman ruin. The park with the ruin was supposed to close at 5:00, but it was 4:20 and it was already closed. I still don’t know if that was the right place.
But it was still a good day, and we drove back to the house and watched Birdemic: Shock and Terror, which made it even better.
UPDATE: Of the many noteworthy aspects of Birdemic: Shock and Terror, the song “Just Hanging Out” is a standout.
Charles walks in with the beer and his baby says HEY DEAR!
Can you go and talk to Melvin, he’s making out at the pier
So little Susan hears the music then she starts to groovin’
And all the fellas jump up to see, how she is movin’