We arrived at the theater of the cruise ship to meet our tour group for the afternoon’s excursion and were given a neon pink sticker with a number on it so we could tell which tour group we belonged to. Several other tours were leaving around the same time, so we hung back waiting to be called. There was a cruise ship employee on the second floor balcony, selling bottles of water in the same cadence as you would hear in a baseball park back home. If it were anything other than the rather nasty tasting mineral water, I’d have jumped on it. But, since our adventure was taking us to a wine tasting, I didn’t want to ruin my palate.
Eventually our group was called and we filed into a very nice tour bus at the edge of the ship. The seats were very plush and it handled better than any bus I’d ridden on back in the States. The driver handled it with ease, pulling through the extremely tight streets of the city. The tour guide told us a bit about the city areas in Monaco and Monte Carlo, differentiating each and disclosing the bit of interesting trivia about the country being the world’s second smallest, after the Vatican.
Our first destination was the tiny village of Eze, which was carved literally into the side of a mountain. Along the way, our tour guide told us about the royal family, meeting Princess Grace and pointing out where she had her unfortunate car crash. We wove through the tight mountain passes, through areas where homes I could never even dream of affording dotted the landscape. At our destination, we had a small guided tour, followed by a few minutes to explore on our own.
The village was gorgeous, and I could easily have spent a few days there. Unfortunately, we had another stop on our tour so we only had time to take a few pictures, grab a beer at one of the outdoor cafes and then catch the bus over to Nice. It was lovely, though, just sitting for a few minutes, being in a country I’d never probably go to on my own, but still enjoyed nonetheless.
Nice was far bigger and much more crowded. Not wanting to really follow the guide for the walking tour, we opted to kill some time in another outdoor bistro which had a beer we’d never be able to get back home: Leffe Ruby. It was a lovely Belgian style ale with some kind of fruit added to lend this gorgeous red hue. The waitress was kind enough to bring us some Pomme Frites before we had to go meet our tour group for the wine tasting.
The group met in a tiny wine cellar that you’d never even notice from the street. It descended from a nearly invisible door down into a cool cellar with plush seating and neat decor. The host informed us that the cellar had been used during the German Occupation to keep supplies and hide families from the Nazis. Today it was just another part of the tourist areas, hosting groups like ours for these posh wine tastings.
We had three wines in total, a white, a rose, and a red. The cheese pairings which were offered were simply decadent and amazing. It was possibly one of my favorite parts of the trip, and although we weren’t able to buy any of the cheeses, we did pick up three bottles of wine. We walked back to the tour bus as the sun began to set over the stone beaches. Fortunately, there were no nude sunbathers. The streets were being set up for the upcoming Tour de France race in a few days.
The ride home was longer, and we were tired from the long day. My husband actually dozed off. When we arrived back to the ship, it was late and we missed our early dining reservation. We were starving by this point, so I ran to the state room to drop off the wine. My husband attempted to go up to the Lido deck for the buffet, but it was an absolute zoo. At that point, our only option was ordering room service.
When we called to place our order, it did not bode well. The kitchen was absolutely swamped. Nearly an hour went by without any food delivered. My husband called back to check on the status, but the person on the other end of the line had no record of the order. Fuming, my husband hung up. We called customer service to complain and in a few minutes we got another call from the kitchen in an attempt to rectify the situation. We placed our order a second time.
A half hour later, the food arrived, but it was all wrong. Neither order had what it was supposed to. My chicken sandwich, which was supposed to come on a multigrain roll with avocado and bacon, came with neither on wheat toast. My husband’s burger came slathered in mayonnaise, which the menu did not indicate at all, and he loathes. Another call to customer service finally got some version of edible food for him, but it was nearly midnight by that point. We went to bed after a very nice day feeling much crankier than we needed to.