(psst…poisson is French for fish) Today is a beautiful day for an adventure! My cold is SO much better. Still some coughing, still a snotty nose, but all in all, I’m a functioning human being again! I got up, ate a little breakfast, packed my bag, and put Gare Antibes into Google maps so I could figure out how to walk there. Because today, I was going to pop into a new country just to go to the aquarium. I love how posh that sounds!! But watch—I’ll make it even posher….I was going to pop into Monaco just to go to the aquarium! 🙃
So that was the aquarium part….but this isn’t just an aquarium!! It’s a museum of oceanography!! I went upstairs to the next level, and was met by a HUGE squid hanging from the ceiling over a gorgeous ocean themed mosaic floor. Seriously?? #heaven
I walked in that door behind the squid, and realized that, oui! I AM in the Louvre of aquariums!! There was this huge room with this amazingly magical glass display cabinet full of I don’t even know what, and in that room, another room to the right. I decided to go in there first. There were a bunch of whale and dolphin skeletons hanging from the ceiling in this MASSIVE room that had kind of a terrace or balcony or something (I’m not sophisticated enough to know the European word for it!) around it to make a second floor for displays.
Around the edges were all kinds of preserved specimens. Corals, fish, sharks, various invertebrates. Many of which were like 100 years old!!! In the middle of the room in the flat display cases were all kinds of oceanography memorabilia. Original drawings of specimens that had been collected on exhibitions that happened over 100 years ago. Pictures of the specimen rooms here at the museum back when it opened. And letters from Prince Albert of Monaco. I was literally in awe and had never seen anything like this in any aquarium! Oh, and did you know that Jacques Cousteau was the director from 1957 to 1988??? DAMN!
Then, all of the lights started shutting off one by one. What the hell?? I wasn’t finished looking in here yet! Was it closing or something? All of a sudden, music starts playing and the ceiling and skeletons are all lit up in an ever-changing, completely unexpected light show!! Dear Monaco, <slow clap>, Love, Mary.
I was reeling from the history that was in that room. I went out into the main room again to explore that huge display cabinet. This “Cabinet of Curiosities” is a display of some of the most unusual specimens and items that the museum has collected over the decades. And I was in whatever is the next step up from heaven!
I picked my jaw up off the floor and looked to the left. There was another huge room (like the whale/dolphin room across from it), but it was CLOSED for a new exhibit installation! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I so have to come back…. I went up another flight of stairs to the top level, where there were gorgeous views and a little cafe.
And I was done. 🙁 I wanted this thing to go on FOREVER!! I wanted to bring a class here!! I wanted to kick everyone out and make my own exhibits and reopen them!! Ok, Musee Ocenographique de Monaco- where’s your gift shop? Because I’m about to give you ALL of my monies! Krona, pounds, euros, dollars, empty credit cards- it’s yours!! (If you know anything about me, you know that this is a rare, rare, RARE statement indeed!). The gift shop was down a couple of floors, on the other side of the exit turn style. I wanted books! I wanted shirts! I wanted art! I wanted it all!! Damn you Ryan Air, and your stingy 10kg carry on limit!! Argggggggggghhhh!! They had books on that cabinet of curiosities, and I really wanted that. But they were all in French. I found myself a t-shirt that I liked (although, the selection could have been better….). Then I was looking for art. I needed something for my wall at home. Something for my own little cabinet of curiosities that I have set up in my dining room. Nothing! No where! How is this possible?! I mean, I even had it all figured out in my head- some kind of super cool vintage poster kind of thing. I wondered around a few times and gave up. Sigh. Freaking fine. Went to the cashier with my tshirt in hand and WHAT WAS THIS??? It was in French AND it even had that one fish I really loved on it?! SOLD!! (That is literally 1/4 of what I would have paid. I’ll eat peanut butter and jelly for weeks on end to save money, but THIS is the kind of thing I save my money for!!)
This day seriously was TOPS, and there was no way it could get any better. I practically skipped out of the aquarium. Now, I asked Brian later what was the ONE thing that could have possibly made this adventure even more awesome. He immediately replied, “A botanical garden.” That’s because my baby knows me too well! And wa-la (that’s French for ta-da), there was one immediately outside of the aquarium and to the right of it!! I strolled down shady tree covered paths, with tons of gorgeous flowers in bloom, and a view of the Mediterranean….ahhhhhh…….
Walked back to the train station via a different route. Monaco, you are beautiful, and thank you so much, Prince Albert, for being such an advocate for marine sciences. Your gorgeous Musee Oceanographic de Monaco is now my most favorite aquarium in the whole world. There are bigger ones. There are flashier ones. But none have ever put together such a collection of animals, science, and history all in one
palace place. Well done!!!