It was difficult at first to get sleep on the bobbing ship, my mind a flurry of sad, longing thoughts wanting to be home with my son. After a few glasses of wine, I was able to slip into a dreamless sleep. When I finally awoke the next morning, it was nearly 9:00 a.m. I hadn’t slept that long in nearly five months.

It felt good. Too good, actually, like cheating or something. But still, I was glad to get the rest, since we had a long day ahead of us. Overnight, the ship crossed the Mediterranean Sea to our first port, Monaco. We stirred in the morning hours when the ship loudly dropped anchor, but then quickly went back to sleep.

I stumbled in the darkness to fling open the state room’s darkening curtains to reveal the absolutely gorgeous port-side view of the city. It was like a postcard or something. The city rose up from the harbor into the mountains but seemed so close we might be able to reach out and touch them.

I stepped out onto the veranda and noted the giant mega yachts, which seemed downright small next to the palatial cruise ship. It was beautiful. We quickly got ready and grabbed some breakfast before venturing out to explore.

Leaving the ship, we found our way through the old stone structures used to defend the city when those things were necessary. We climbed up the winding structure, snapping pictures and taking in the gorgeous weather, which was a perfect temperature for the day, warm but not hot, just a bit overcast and breezy.

The armament lead to a public park space, which then dumped into the city itself. The park was lovely, full of blooming flowers and art installations. Tourists abounded, but we didn’t feel crowded or anything. A lovely woman from South Africa struck up a conversation with us about one of the sculptures, which was a scale bronze pair entwined in each other’s arms, about to kiss. The American tourists were obvious, neon shirts with local advertising, yapping away to each other at full volume.

We wound our way around the quaint city, with tiny cobblestone streets, fun shops and outdoor cafes. I snapped away happily with my camera, enjoying the small taste of a city I could never afford to live in or probably stay in. If we’d had more time, we’d have probably wandered further, but we had an excursion to Nice and Eze in the afternoon and had to meet our tour guide so we went back to the ship.