Recently I witnessed the ceremonial changing of the guard in Monaco. You can see such ceremonies lots of places, and it always amazes me how much attention they attract and how people like to get pictures (and yes, I took some as well).
A few days before that in Prague, I didn’t catch the changing of the guard happen, but I saw them at the castle, standing before their little guard huts with their rifles. I don’t even know if they’re real guns, but I know this for sure: the guy in fatigues nearby was the real deal. He’s not standing at attention in front of a hut. He’s not getting his picture taken with tourists. He’s pacing with his weapon, looking all around, watching everything.
Today I saw a real, non-ceremonial changing of the guard just down the street from our apartment.
Travel so often comes with self-imposed obligations. You’re in Paris: better brave the crowds and get that selfie with the Mona Lisa. Dodge the sidewalk hucksters and go up the Tower. Shop–or at least window shop–the Champs-Elysée… even though it’s the last place you’d ever really shop. Check off another cathedral. Another museum. Another Very Important Sight.
And it’s true: it’s a shame to travel and not make the most of your time. But there’s something nice about taking it easy for a change. Not giving into the you-better-see-that-important-museum pressure. Case in point: we’re in Nice, wrapping up the girls’ spring break. Yesterday we knocked out a few stops on the tourist checklist by taking in the Principality of Monaco. We watched the changing of the guard (not exactly a thrill-fest, and nothing I’d go out of my way for, but we were in the right place at the right time, so what the heck), toured the cathedral where Princess Grace is buried, enjoyed the engaging aquarium, took a bateau bus across the harbor to the Monte-Carlo side of things with its famous casino, and ended the day by touring a lovely little hill town called Eze–which is a site in and of itself.
But today? No agenda, no firm plans. Take a walk along the beach. Walk back. Eat lunch on the beach. Take a nap. Sit on our tiny deck and watch people go by. Drink another coffee.
What’s next? We could go see the Chagall Museum… Rick Steves gives it his top rating…. I even like Chagall…
Yeah, let’s go find some some gelato instead. The museum will be here next time.
Looking down on the harbor in Monaco. A few nice boats down there.
The nail-biting drama that is the changing of the guard.
The final resting places of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.
A lovely lane in Eze.
The golden hour in Nice.