Road Trip Europe | Monaco

 The Longest Drive I’ve ever Done!

If I had my own records, this would receive the record for the longest drive time I’ve ever had in my entire life! But guess what? It was only 250 miles! Seems nothing right? Find out why it was such a nightmare road trip…

Dear Diary,

Today felt like one of the longest drives of my life! Only a mere ~250 miles it was, yet it took the best part of 7 and a half hours to complete. The reason for this? It seems (as some of you might have experienced) Italy is not meant for drivers. It is by far the worst country I have driven in so far. There seems to be little rhyme or reason behind some of the traffic systems, and as for the drivers? As in any region you have crazy people with some sort of death wish, but there seemed to be so many more here!

Drivers are simply put, Italian; full bodied and full of passion. They don’t seem to give a monkeys basically. See that road sign? It means nothing. See that opposite side of the road? Yeah it’s mine now. An absolutely terrifying experience. This is a great tactic to keep the tourists in the country however as once you arrive it’s ridiculously hard to leave if you are unlucky enough to be driving! On the positive side of things the Italian landscape is absolutely amazing. Come to think of it, maybe drivers in the country are distracted by it, and that is why you are always on the edge of your seat? Who knows.

Most roads encountered in Italy were old, the surface looking something not too far from a patchwork quilt. This could have been the fact that country roads were the most part of the trip, but still a pretty terrible experience for the spine, and the axles and suspension of your vehicle.

After my first few hours of Italian fun, I came across (not for the first time in my journey) some beautiful mountain highways. A literal and metaphorical breath of fresh air compared to the previous few hours experienced.

A seemingly endless cliff drop was constantly hugging one side of the road as the breathtaking landscape seemed enticing enough to cause you to lose concentration. If you were to do so for even a couple of seconds here you’d almost certainly become a part of nature, and not in a good way.

This landscape can be best described by a film I once watched. The scenes at the end of the original Italian job movie (look it up, superb) show many similar looking shots. The countless shades of green you see around you in the summer time is a wonderful challenge for your eyes to take in. Add that to the eye watering blues you occasionally come across when you pass a stream at the side of the road and you’ll be in awe of nature for your entire journey here.

I had a quick whistle stop look at Monaco before arriving in my chosen stop of Nice around dusk. An independent state hugging the coastline of France, this tiny place has been a constitutional monarchy since the 1200’s under the house of Grimaldi.All good things come to an end and once through a somewhat casual border into France (a really long tunnel), the scenery remained the same for a while, but the weather seemed to be kinder to the French today. Eventually though the endless windy roads became motorways, and a striking purple and violet ocean sunset came into view as I approached the coast.

Monaco is a gorgeous city, and truly a rich mans playground. Since the first casinos and rail links were constructed in the 19th century, the city has grown to be home of some of the richest people and some of the most amazing events in the world.

With no income tax to pay for residents (non-French) since the 1800’s, and low business taxes this ~2km area has one of the highest densities of people, and wealthy ones, on Earth.

Today it is the home to countless celebrities, royalty, and rich business women and men who set up a home here to avoid heavy tax levies in their own countries. The principality has recently come under more scrutiny however due to apparent cases of money laundering.

The Formula One Grand Prix attracts millions or people every year too, and is regarded today as one of the most prestigious events in motorsport, or any sport in fact.

Since 1929 is has been the stand out event in the F1 calendar. The race takes place through the city streets and along the port, displaying some of the most amazing views, paired with the four wheeled technological beasts flying past them and huge speeds.

Definitely worth making time and money to explore it in depth one day. Having the cash to spend time here can be a challenge though as it is so expensive! To give you an idea, a tiny studio apartment can cost around half a million pounds (€600,000+) to buy. Probably why I made the decision to stay elsewhere that night.

Nice was the stopover for the evening and I was extremely grateful for my campervan bed after what was a physical day of accelerating, braking and navigating the twisty knots that are mountain roads. Before I left it was simply a given that a sunset shot of this amazing place just had to be captured though. From a distance it appears to have a aura of luxury and happiness. It could have been the amazing sunset that evening but it certainly captured the look a really special place.

Monaco from afar

Monaco from afar

See where else I’ve been on my european road tripYou will never tire of the spectacular scenery and weather the Côte d’Azur brings. The mix of gorgeous mountain views and city life is truly one to grab with both hands given the opportunity. Not to mention the beaches of course!

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