Monte Carlo, Monaco. A rich city by most standards and certainly one of my favorite ports in the Mediterranean. With an average per capita income of $108,000 USD they live quite well in a geographic region of the world synonymous with affluence. Where the taxis are Mercedes Benz cars and it's not unusual to be waiting to cross the street and be passed by a couple of Land Rovers, a Maserati and a Lamborghini. While crossing the street you also realize that in a month's time the area will be closed off and Grand Prix cars will be racing around the hair pin turns and thousands of fans will be cheating from the erected scaffolding stands while the Prince and Princess of Monaco look on from their palace above.
Does all of that make Monaco a rich country? Well, yes, it does but the real reason Monaco is rich is because of the people and the culture that imbues the place. The culture where it's not unusual to walk to the square, sit and watch the people at the fruit market while sipping a cappuccino and enjoying a freshly baked croissant. This was my morning and it was glorious - granted I had my iPad, I was also updating apps and answering work email but I was most definitely enjoying being off the ship for, pretty much, the first time since we left North America behind.
This evening I hung out with a friend, had a nice Italian dinner with some wine and walked around the city just to enjoy being on land after the sun goes down. I know that for many of you this seems ridiculous but believe me, as someone who has been at sea for well over a decade, this is important for the soul. As I now sit in my cabin on the ship I reflect and think about exactly what makes Monte Carlo a rich city.