August 18th, 2013 / posted by paularath

One of the many spectacular views form the medieval village of Eze, France.

On our second day in Monte Carlo we decided to get away from all the glitz and glamor of the seaside resort of super-mega-yachts and high stakes gamblers and head for the hills….literally. We went on a big adventure with Paula, our favorite bartender from Romania and our partner in travel “crime.” We took a train we thought was going to Eze, but it turned out we were going to Eze-sur-Mere, the beach.  Oops!
We found out how to catch a local bus up mauka and it was an adventure but we got there! The bus ride down was absolutely wild, with hair pin turns as we stood next to the driver and clung to each other for dear life. It was so much fun!

Eze is an absolutely beautiful little hilltop village with no cars. You can walk up and around through all sorts of little tiny streets with beautiful medieval doorways and flowers galore. Everything imaginable seems to grow in Eze, from cacti to hibiscus and palms and ferns. Amazing!

We were surprised – pleasantly so – by Saint Tropez. We were there on a holiday – their version of Fourth of July – and it was absolutely jammed with people, mainly French, having a grand holiday weekend. I didn’t take photos in Saint Tropez but Jerry took some with his iPad and we will be able to share them with you later.

Here’s the fashion word from Saint Tropez: It’s all about TANs, white linen, TANs and gold sandals. On the beaches, it’s all about topless and deep TANs, which is why we decided it was not a great beach day. Lots of families with adorable children and spoiled dogs. As we boarded the tender to get back to the ship, we walked into a photo shoot with a French actress posing in front of her yacht, with her trusty butler, dressed in a suit in 95 degree weather, carrying armloads of packages from Celine and Chanel. That’s Saint Tropez!

I can’t begin to tell you how many mega yachts we saw in Monte Carlo and Saint Tropez. One of our astute lecturers told us that at least 55 percent of all the mega yachts in the world travel to these ports during the summer each year.

Yes, we have fabulous lecturers on this cruise! Such a wide variety of subjects. Yesterday it was Professor Atalay on the subject of Leonardo da Vinci.

After Saint Tropez we visited Palma de Mallorca, one of the Balearic Islands. It has 253 beaches and seven million visitors each year, many of them in August because they are French, Spanish or German.

The view of the Cathedral from our stateroom in Palma de Mallorca.

We had a wonderful experience in Palma de Mallorca and headed mauka again for a visit to Valldemosa, a Moorish village where the Carthusian monks have a monastery.

The lovely medieval village of Valldemosa as we approached it.

What I remembered about Valldemosa, and the reason Jerry and I were so anxious to see it, is that Frederic Chopin and George Sand spend time there in 1838 and we read a novel, called “Becoming George Sand,” about that period of time.

We had the magical opportunity to hear Chopin played inside one of the deconsecrated rooms of the Carthusian monastery where they had stayed together one frigid winter. It was, in a word, magical! The gardens are exquisitely beautiful and the hillsides are alive with olive groves, lemon and orange trees. A place one could easily stay for months on end! Such a quiet, achingly beautiful village!

The Cartegna Roman Theater Museum has brought back the theater nearly to its original glory.

This morning we visited the fantastic Cartegena Roman Theater Museum. The site was discovered in 1988 and the archaeologists began work in 1990. They have done an amazing job of explaining the various lives this land has lived, from the first century BC as a theater honoring Caesar Augustus’ grandsons, Cayo and Lucio, to a Byzantine, Moorish and Spanish village. It’s one of the finest museums I have been to, as far as how it explains the periods and the peoples who were once there.

Tomorrow we’re off to Gibraltar.

This cruise takes us from Catalan, Spain to France to Spain to an English settlement to Portugal to France and then to England. What a wonderful world!

Never again will I travel without my own laptop computer! Sorry you have to turn your monitor sideways but I can’t seem to edit the photos in this computer.

– Paula Rath

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