Thursday, April 26, 2012

Out of the Rut and onto a Frigate

Well, I must admit that even I was getting tired of hearing myself complain about how the set up of Monaco's Annual Grand Prix is messing with my morning fitness walk amongst other things.  

So this morning, I decided to put my feet where my mouth is and figure out a new walking route, one that would avoid the chain link fencing, barricades, noisy trucks and cranes.  Oops, there I go again!

Well, I can truly say that I was
rewarded for the detour...  

Instead of my usual route that starts with me charging down the ramp from Monaco-Ville and then eastward, I took the steps that wound through the picturesque Fort Antoine and down towards the Digue or mooring point where huge cruise ships dock when they sail into Monaco.

There was Auntie, zipping merrily along, thinking that I may have discovered a great new walking route but when I got to the bottom of the staircase, there was an enormous, grey ship blocking my view of the port.  Auntie went in for a closer look.

The ship was a Frigate from People's Republic of China aka, the PLA Navy.  There were handsome Chinese sailors everywhere, some guarding the gangway and some standing on board.  They all looked quite natty in crisp white uniforms with shiny buttons, medals, nifty white caps and polished white shoes. Some of them were toting guns!  This deserved a closer look.
Naturally, I pulled out my camera and while I was snapping away, I noticed a smiling sailor just to the left of the gangway.  He was standing behind a little table with neatly piled brochures.  I walked over to say hello and get a brochure.  Unfortunately, he didn't speak English and I don't speak Chinese so after a minute or so of hand motions, pointing, smiling by the both of us and some nodding gestures, I finally figured it out.  They were offering tours of their ship.  Of course Auntie wanted in on that fun so up the gangway I went!

On board the ship, the first thing I noticed was how clean it was. There wasn't a speck of dust nor dirt, smudges, grit nor grime anywhere. Then I noticed that I was the only civilian.

During the tour, I was escorted up stairs, down stairs, aft, midship, stem, stern and bow, with a few stops here and there for photos of course. 

Nifty Brochures

The officers were very polite and handsome in spotless white uniforms. I kept wishing that I spoke Chinese so I could have asked to see the galley.  I thought I smelt something cooking and I was dying to see what was on the stove.
After the tour was over, I was escorted down the gangway and after saying thank you to all, off I went to continue my morning power walk.  After a few phone calls and Google searches, I'm still not sure why they were in Monaco but l'll keep looking.

It just goes to show you that you just never know what you'll find when you leave the beaten path and take a look around.


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