After breakfast this morning, we headed off on our trip south to the French Riviera - our longest bus trip for the tour. We drove for 2.5 hours before our first stop. This place is where nougat as made, so I was a bit annoyed that I had bought nougat at a service station the other day. I guess it's probably all the same though, but this would've just been a little more authentic. We had lunch here too. We went to a sandwich place and got some premade baguettes but we felt so stupid asking for them because all we did was say bonjour and then point to what we wanted. I felt like a baby who can't talk and just points to what they want.
We jumped back in the bus after this and drove to the next service stop which was the smallest one we've been to so far. There wasn't much to do here at all so we just sat around until it was time to get back on the bus. We got to the campsite where we were staying for the night and found our cabins which were incredibly hot. They were very cute little cabins but tiny and they had been shut up all day so were boiling. There are only 2 people per cabin, but we share a bathroom with the people in the cabin next to us - so as you went in to the toilet, you had to lock 2 doors, but you had to make sure you unlocked both too. Again in another rush, we had 15 minutes to get changed into some nice clothes ready to head to the Monte Carlo casino in Monaco.
Before we left, the Contiki people at the campsite had organised another French delicacy for us - frog's legs and French punch. I was excited because this was the last thing on my food bucket list for France, and I didn't think I was going to get to try them. Like the snails, they were drenched in garlic, but they tasted reasonably nice, and like everyone says, like chicken. The only thing is, obviously, they're so small and a bit annoying to eat, but I thought they tasted good. A lot of people wouldn't try them though.
We all jumped back on the bus after this and drove for just over an hour to get to Monaco. Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, besides Vatican City, but is the most densely populated country in the world. The whole country is only 2 square kilometres! The people born there don't need to pay tax, and from what we could see it looked like a pretty wealthy country (but I don't know that for sure). Everyone lives in apartments because there is no space for an actual house with a garden, etc. It's apparently a very safe country and they have only had 2 murders in the last 24 years. We drove down the Grand Prix roads right around the coast, and then parked up.
We had to do some walking up to the Royal Palace. There are a couple of guards and police standing outside the palace, but nothing like Buckingham Palace with huge fences, etc. You could basically walk right up to the palace. We saw some amazing views right out over Monaco from up here too. Around the palace there were some small streets which had restaurants down them, so we went and found one to have dinner at. Although they speak French in Monaco, it seemed as though a lot of the food was Italian, and being smack bang in the middle of France and Italy, I'm not sure what it is more like.
After dinner, we headed to the Monte Carlo casino, again walking up more steps, so we were all dripping again by the time we got to the top because it was so hot. We weren't allowed to take any photos inside, but the casino was amazing (apparently where Casino Royale was filmed). Awesome architecture and roof designs. I didn't know how to do any actual gambling, plus it was like 10€ minimum down on the table. So I went and put 10€ into the pokies. The most I won was about 1.50€, so that 10€ all disappeared in about 5 minutes. I put in another 10€ and that disappeared just as fast. I came out with a 30 cent ticket, but at least I can say I did it in Monte Carlo. We thought we were going to have to pay 10€ to get into the casino anyway, but apparently they changed that rule literally the day before we got there, so that was a bonus, as we just walked right in.
We stayed in the casino for an hour and then it was time to catch the coach back to our campsite in the French Riviera. The tunnel which we were meant to use to leave Monaco was closed, so we had to take a detour which ended up taking twice as long to get back - about 2 hours. I fell asleep during this trip. I haven't really slept much on the coach so far. As we were driving home, we passed a temperature sign which read 26 degrees, and that was at 10pm!
We got back to our sauna cabins and then had to try and sleep. We had showers first and the water was stone cold. Even with the temperature of our cabins, that water was just too cold! Now it will be an interesting nights sleep in this heat. At least it's too hot though and not too cold when we're trying to sleep.
Tomorrow we're off to ITALY. We're going to a French perfume factory in the morning to show us how it's made, then we go via The Leaning Tower of Pisa to get to Florence where we stay for 2 nights. We have a free day in Florence the day after that.