About a month ago I went on a work trip to Monaco for three days. It was always on my list of places to go but it’s not super easy to get to and most importantly, this tiny country has no hostels. So going to a trade show was the best option to see the city (oops, I meant country) without going broke.
Before we left, my boss told me that he had a surprise and for some reason, I immediately guessed that we were going there by helicopter. For most people that would be super exciting, but I prefer to stay slow and steady on the ground. My boss was about to cancel my seat but then I thought, “really? You’re going to miss out on this cool experience just because you’re afraid of flying?” It was only a 7 minute flight anyway, so I figured that worst case scenario, it would be like a terrifyingly long roller coaster ride…but guess what! It was awesome! Helicopters actually fly very low to the ground, they don’t have turbulence and there’s no scary take off/landing. It was always a great way to get some beautiful photos of the coast and the sunset.
When we got to the helipad, I was really scared that my hair would get tangled in the blades (even though it was in a bun). Even though they’re several meters above my head, I couldn’t help doing that awkward half bent run to the helicopter. The pilot noticed that I had a camera and was nice enough to let me sit beside him (woohoo!)
It’s a rather odd place actually. The country itself is very small and I was able to walk the short end of it in half an hour (uphill). Before going there I pictured that it would look like a giant resort with classy rich people walking around in tuxedos and ballgowns and dripping with diamonds. It’s definitely a rich place – we even saw a four story yacht that had a helicopter attached to it, because clearly having only a yacht is for peasants. However, the city is actually very cramped with 60s style high rise apartments everywhere. Some of them are painted in lovely colours and have beautiful facades, while others are just rising above the city, blocking the view. Since it’s a tax haven, apartments are insanely small and expensive.
There were mostly foreigners walking around the city (I mean country), but I did spot a few locals working out with their personal trainers in the morning, because plastic surgery can apparently only go so far.
It wasn’t all weird – the ocean is beautiful, the city is safe and some of the architecture is very pretty. We were staying in a five star hotel near the conference center, so I was able to go on nice walks during my breaks. The conference seemed to be the main event of the season so we got free bus transportation throughout the city and go to rooftops for fancy dinners (with fireworks). Another big perk – the weather! Apparently it was chilly for the locals, but I loved walking around without a jacket in March.
It was all very over-the-top, but that’s what made it so fun!