Last meal: homemade lasagne with salad and balsamic dressing.
Drink of choice: gin & tonics.
Song in my head:
I stayed with Chris and the boys in Vallauris until the beginning of July. It had been such a lovely repose and I was a little sad to leave. I had arranged to meet up with two friends from my old work in Sydney, in Nice! So that is where I was heading off to!
Met up with Ariella at our apartment. The landlord was a bizarre fellow – he took Ariella’s passport as collateral for my security deposit, and was weirdly protective of the towels. Anyway, we managed to get that sorted out, then had a very healthy salmon and vegetables dinner! Aren’t we respectable adults? Of course, we then headed out to Wayne’s, a terrible anglophone bar that everyone had told us about. It was pretty
The next morning, Ariella and I went on a run (separately – she’s way fast and I’m a lardy heffalump) and took things fairly slow in the morning. At around midday, we headed up to the “Château” (inverted commas because it was destroyed quite a while ago) which affords an incredible view over the city of Nice. Ariella said there were almost 300 steps to get up there (am I embellishing this number? I don’t quite remember, but there were a lot so shut up) but the view made it absolutely worth it. Obviously we had to reward ourselves for that hefty hike with a café lunch visit and, afterwards, a large serving of ice cream each. The hardest part of our day was the dilemma between continuing to slurp our ice creams, or to reach into our bags to get out some sunglasses. Tough life.
Another work friend, Harriet, was due to fly in today, so we excitedly met her at the beach bus stop at around 6.30pm, after spending a couple of hours at the beach (fear not – I was well sunscreened! Also, WHY DO PEBBLE BEACHES EXIST? They are a terrible invention; completely unnecessary). After a spot of dinner, we were again (at Ariella’s request, I might add) directing ourselves back to Wayne’s, more for a catchup over drinks rather than a dancing-on-tables kind of evening like before. State of Origin was on the televisions there, so we shared a table with an Australian fellow who turned out to be a chef on a yacht owned by an unidentified Australian
million gazillionaire. Needless to say, he was plagued with questions about food and the mysterious magnate.
Wayne’s closed at two, so we lined up with our new friend outside pretty much the only place in Nice that was still open (Why, you ask? Since it’s high season, at a large and famous beachside city and the sun only set at 10.30? Let us not forget – these people are French. They play by their own rules). The club was packed, but they had a live band who weren’t particularly good but played old favourites and we were too sloshed at this point to care. We left after the band finished and unintentionally went to the beach, where we steadily sobered up as we threw pebbles into the sea. Friend James fell asleep. As it got lighter, towards about 5.30am, we decided to wake him up and head back to our respective accommodations.
Summary of the following day: hangover. Gin & tonics, various spirit-and-sodas, beer, and cider are not such a pleasant combination by the next morning. Ariella dutifully took a run while Harriet and I felt sorry for ourselves, and afterwards we slowly made our way back to the “Château” and associated café and gelato shop, to show Harriet the sights we had explored the previous day. Much of the late afternoon was spent lazing in the sun on the beach again, where Harriet experienced the joys that a pebble beach inevitably offers. The sun was good for our souls.
I’m not really sure what happened the next day: perhaps I was in a post-hangover state of blindness. Ariella visited a museum, that I do remember, but what Harriet and I did is anyone’s guess. Probably sleep and/or beach. As it was our final night all together in Nice, we went out for dinner, and ended up close to starving as it took so long to be served. My gnocchi and gorgonzola made it all worthwhile.
The next morning was spent packing, and hurriedly hiding Harriet from the landlord, as we hadn’t admitted to her staying with us (don’t even feel guilty – the place was overpriced anyway, and the landlord was a cranky bugger). Coffee and deliciousness at a nearby café, then it was goodbye to Ariella as she was flying back to Hamburg. Harriet and I made the slow walk to a hostel near the station, where we would spend the night before Harriet took a train to Florence the next day. Such jetsetters!
Dumped our stuff and cooled down a bit (Nice was the first place of my entire trip that I remembered the agonies of Australian summer heat), then decided to go on a day trip somewhere. Harriet suggested a small town recommended on TripAdvisor, named Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
An hour of bus trip later (most of which I was asleep – I can’t even control it anymore! Sorry Harriet), the lovely old fortified city was in sight. We spent a few good hours exploring this quaint little village, with steeply sloping cobbled streets and clear views of the surrounding countryside to the sea. Such a little gem, but quite touristy. We spent a few dollars that day on chocolates, postcards, and of course ice cream, and managed to catch the last bus home.
I’ve forgotten now where we went for dinner (that will teach me to wait nearly a month to write blog entries!) but the next morning we had coffee and croissants at a ghetto café before saying our goodbyes. I headed into the Old Town to my hostel of the next two nights, which was perfectly situated: just down the path from the café that Ariella, Harriet and I had frequented! I spent the remainder of the day just wandering the pedestrian streets and people-watching. On Sunday (we’re up to July 8th now), after a leisurely breakfast and stroll, I headed over to Monaco. You know, just another country.
My, they are rich there. Everything is so clean and structured and yacht-ey and designer-shop-ey and fancy. It wasn’t an overly interesting place for someone with a less than seven-digit salary, but of course I had to visit the Monte Carlo casino, which is definitely one of the most extravagant buildings I have ever laid foot in (is that a phrase? It should be).
Absolutely mindblowing. It perfectly the captured the essence of the Art Deco era (also demonstrated in other buildings in the area) and I can just imagine Gatsby-esque gazillionaires, spoilt heirs to impossible fortunes, dwindling their lives away here on cards and drink, all the while in fancy clothes completely unsuitable for the climate. It is so great.
I creepily watched some card games, mainly Perfect Pairs and Blackjack. Didn’t bet unfortunately: the minimum betting chip available was 10€, and there was a table with a minimum bet of 25€ to which, as I was standing there, a man approached and placed a cool 400€ on the table. He kept ordering scotch too. He wasn’t a very good player, not like the young Italian heir (I’m assuming), or the middle-aged Asian businessman. Seriously, it felt like a Bond set in there. I am now determined to become an expert card player (i.e. Bond girl, Sean Connery era).
That evening I went for a stroll along Nice beach after dinner. Bad idea. Obviously, as a young female by herself, I have nothing better to do with my time than stave off sleazy frenchmen. One was a real jerk when he realised that nothing was actually going to happen. I’ll blame the balmy Niçoise air, rather than frenchmen in general. Ended up sulking my way through a bizarre film screened in a small square, then headed back to the hostel.
Went for a run the next morning *smug*, before taking the bus to the airport. Stupidly got off at the wrong terminal, freaked out and ran back to the bus (which was, miraculously, still at the stop) and managed to check in at the correct terminal on time. They took my remaining sunscreen at the security checkpoint: my fault, I know, but it made me feel like I was losing a friend all the same. Got an emergency exit seat between two men (one of which turned to me and made a jolly remark in another language, to which I replied with a well-wishing but evidently helplessly ignorant chuckle), then promptly fell asleep for the duration of my flight to Amsterdam.