And how Nice it was! (sorry)
01.11.2008 - 07.11.2008 18 °C
Right now I'm watching the last few streaks of blood red twilight disappear behind the Andalusian hills. It's been hard catching up on my blog with this kind of scenery distracting me- white, glistening little cities in the distance, nestled between mountains, rows of hills lined with trees and red dirt- but alright, I guess as far as this is concerned I'm still in France.
Our next stop was Nice, a playground for the wealthy, but not totally inaccessible for us poor folk. We got an early morning train out of Paris, and I can remember slivers of it- waiting in the train station, nibbling on croissant and waiting for the sun to rise. Watching as cute French towns yielded to a wilder Mediterranean landscape, all palm trees and striking azure water and red-roofed stucco houses climbing the hillsides. Our surroundings gave me a renewed surge of excitement for travel, for what laid a few steps ahead, which in our case was Spain. We got off our train and stepped into the warmth of the afternoon sunshine, and took the tram to the spot where our hostel's shuttle was supposed to pick us up. We dropped our bags and shed our extra layers. I was so excited- the blue sky, the warm weather, the palm trees- this was all very new, very welcome after the weather from the first half of our trip. They were selling flowers in a small makeshift open air market where we were standing, and the smell enhanced the whole memory- now, when I think of Nice, I can still smell the flowers. I would be smelling them for a while anyway, as the stupid van never came and got us. We were waiting for near a couple hours, not even left with directions, because after a half hour we would've walked whatever the distance was. After trying this and that, Ruaridh finally flagged down the van while I was looking for a payphone and we made it up the fairly short distance to our hostel. It was really lovely- it was perched above the city a bit, in a quiet area full of vegetation with lots of places to hang out outside. It all had that vague but really nice humid smell of plants that you get in tropical places. We have dinner at the hostel, which was great at only 6 euro or something, and some wine, and hung around a bit before heading off to bed.
The next day was fantastic. T-shirts and sandals all day... ahhh. We went back down into town, stopping to pick up some fruit, cheese and baguette- from the baker's of course- for lunch. We went into Old Town to the fruit and flower market, full of fresh vegetables, spices, oils, preserves, and of course fruit and flowers. It was really crazy there, full of local shoppers, wandering tourists and barking vendors. The place just made you want to cook. Once we were done wandering, we went down to the beach for our little picnic, admiring the beautiful blue water and the town curving down either side of the shore. Soon after we headed up the side of a steep cliff to see a waterfall and some ruins of a chapel. It offered some pretty incredible views. After a bit more wandering down the coast, we decided to head back since some clouds were rolling in.
And the bad weather begins! I think it's chasing us. We woke up to some thunder and rain, but no matter, it was still SO warm compared to Paris. Since we made a pact to see absolutely no museums during our stay, we just bummed around, read and planned little details for more of our trip. We slipped and slided back into town to pick up some groceries, but that was about it. Nothing of import.
The weather persists the next day- U.S Election day! But we decide to go into Monaco just to say we did. We also knew of an aquarium in Monte Carlo which was supposed to be pretty great, and both me and Ruaridh seem to share the affection for aquariums, so it was all good. We got on the bus from Nice, and actually passed right through Monaco without noticing into some other similarly rich place. We got off and walked along until we were back in the area. Lots of expensive shopping places and massive flats and mansions overlooking the sea. Monte Carlo was on a piece of the coast jutting into the sea, or at least the aquarium was. We went in, and it was pretty great. On our way out, we wandered around a bit more, saw the Super Yachts (complete with cape) and billboards for super yacht insurance. The casino was very pretty, as was the area around. We were in jeans and our hiking shoes, so we didn't bother to see if we'd be let in. There were lots of very shiny and sleek looking cars, which Ruaridh, with awe and reverence, explains are Aston Martins and Ferraris (whatev.) The rain starts up again. We head back into the city center of Nice to see "W." in spirit of the elections. We were completely soaked by the time we got to the theater. They don't let you in the physical building until 20 minutes before the show, and don't even have popcorn! The French just don't know how to do movie theaters. Nevertheless, I thought it was very interesting. We got back for the "election party," where they played the election stuff on some large screens. and although I wanted so badly to stay up and see the results, we were 6 hours ahead and I just couldn't do it. I was falling in and out of sleep, and even though it's silly I couldn't sleep. I felt sick, I felt like it was going to be the same shit all over again. We were in the room next to the converted chapel, where we had breakfast, dinner, the bar and the computers. This is where the party was, so I got to hear all the chatter of the party. At some point I woke up and heard that special music, so I threw on my jeans and ran next door, where some kids were hanging out outside. They told me it was Obama, and I went back to bed, quite relaxed.
The next day was completely uneventful since rain battered the town for most of the day. That's the thing about Nice, its a vacation town, and if the sun isn't shining there is nothing to do. We would've left, but we were holding out for the sun that was promised to us, because we really wanted to get some beach time in. The morning after wasn't so bad, but we changed hostels, unfortunately to one not nearly as nice, but much more centrally located (only a block from the beach.) Today we had to do laundry, reserve tickets for Barcelona, and send some things home. When night came we decided to wander around the pedestrian streets a bit and found an unfortunately mediocre place for dinner, but you can't always make the best guesses, right? The rain started up again, which put a quick end to our night. Tomorrow's our last day in Nice, and regardless of the weather, we are going to get out.
Our last day in Nice was pretty great. We wanted to see some more of the Cote D'Azur, so we hopped on a bus to go over to a beach called Villefranche and a beautiful town called St. Jean Cap Ferrat. We really had no idea where to get off, as none of the bus stops were really marked, so we got off at a pretty looking stop and wandered around. We ended up at St. Jean Cap Ferrat first, the most beautiful town in the world. Gorgeous houses hidden by tropical flowers and palm trees, jutting out into crystal clear water dotted coast below us. Vines covered in little purple flowers crept onto every stone wall on the streets. The roads were surprisingly unpaved, considering all the expensive cars parked on them. We made our way down to a little beach next to the port where some locals were walking their little dogs or taking an afternoon swim. Lush cliffs rose for miles to our left. In front of us was a bright blue expanse of water, with a lone white cruise ship a few miles out. By the cliffs, the sky was bright blue with a few tufts of cloud, and out by the port to our right we saw some black clouds moving in. From where we were, we could see the heavy rainfall a few miles away. It was a very cool sight. We hid in a cafe for a while as the storm passed over us, then we slipped and slided to the bus stop, intent on finding Villefranche. After walking here and there, we found ourselves walking along another little port, unable to find the beach. There were swarms of fish under the little sailboats, so we hung around, without much to do, and watched for a few minutes. Then, right in front of our eyes, a little octopus jetted into view! It was so cool, I've never seen one outside an aquarium. It was just jetting to and fro in the shallow waters before settling into a little crack out of view. That was very exciting. Still bent on finding this beach, we ended up wandering around the coastline for the rest of the day, climbing crumbling weed-ridden stairs, wandering around impossibly beautiful tropical neighborhoods, ambling up and down pedestrian streets. We found a beach finally, not "the beach" but a beach. I don't know exactly where we went wrong, but it ended up being a great day anyway. Tomorrow we head to Barcelona, and Ruaridh tells me that his dad, in a lapse of sanity, booked us 2 days at a 5 star hotel in Barcelona. We were both really pumped for that. Barcelona was a long trip from Nice, but we decided to avoid the night train situation. I was excited to move on, but Nice is one of those places where you can accidentally spend the rest of your trip and not even notice. Next- Barcelona!