Actually, we would like to take the ferry to Sardinia. From the port city of Genoa, Monaco is a day trip away – of course we make this little detour. Two hours of highway driving over bridges and through tunnels along the Riviera of Flowers, across the French border and into Monaco.

Our expectations: rather low. A few superlative yachts. Men wearing polo shirts and extravagantly dressed women with luxury handbags and small dog inside. The roar of sports cars in the urban canyons. Service staff in convenient suits. Stores like those sprouting up all over the world. In short, we expect a boring, luxury-pampered city like those copied in almost every country.

Little Park in Monaco
Flowers in Monaco

To say it in advance: Unfortunately, we see our expectations confirmed as soon as we enter Monaco. We wind our way down a winding road into the city. Our navigation app is overwhelmed: Roads and streets run through tunnels and bridges on top of each other in several levels, traffic circles and traffic lights have simply been laid underground. The mini-state has the highest population density of all countries – space is a precious commodity here.

What’s more, it’s Monday. THE Monday after the day of the big Formula 1 race in Monaco. Grandstands and barriers are just being dismantled. We can’t get any further on foot than we can by car: many roads are impassable and awkward detours have to be taken.

The only consolation are accurately laid out strips of flowers along the way and thin palm trees along the waterfront.

Boats in Monaco
Luxury Yachts in the Port of Monaco
View on Monaco

The way to the port seems to be blocked by a huge shopping mall carved into the rock. Via side alleys, escalators and in elevators, through stores and along multi-lane streets, we finally reach our destination. We squeeze our son’s stroller through a construction fence, carry it over another narrow passage with the help of passersby, and stand on the Mediterranean Sea. Yachts as big as blocks of houses glide lazily into the harbor. Somewhere a champagne bottle is being popped, somewhere gold jewelry sparkles in the afternoon sun.

While we look out to sea, the workmen’s impact wrenches are roaring. They are dismantling one of the spectator stands at the harbor. Trucks push past us – we have to change places. Another detour to the casino in Monte Carlo? The route suggested by Google leads along a highway and then – a barrier. No progress. We make our way home. We haven’t seen much of Monaco, but it’s enough to know that we’d rather leave this kind of concrete male fantasy to people who can only realize their dreams with money.

We leave the city the same way we came. One more quick panorama in the afternoon sun, then we head back to Genoa.

Why is it always the same, we ask ourselves. Why does this huge accumulation of money lead to nothing meaningful? Why the same gray concrete deserts? Cities for cars, not for people. Ten-lane highways, mountains of garbage, exhaust fumes, air-conditioned interiors. Steps instead of ramps. Car bridges instead of bicycle paths.

We fantasize about green towers and jungle-like pedestrian zones. Small e-buses running noise- and emission-free along a few, fixed routes. The rest of the city: car-free. The roofs of the houses produce electricity through solar energy, a wave power plant off the coast uses the energy of the water, wind turbines on the hills of the city use that of the wind. Waste is generated only in small quantities, because sophisticated production and logistics concepts reduce waste, as does a consistent circular economy. A green, self-sufficient city that gives more than it takes.

Yes, that would require some money. But it seems there is enough of it.

Info about our trip