Nice + Monocco
I had a pretty average sleep last night. It was pretty broken, both from traffic noises outside and other people in the hostel. Though the main thing was I couldn’t work out how to turn off the main lights for the room. I was in the corner and there was a decent curtain keeping me segregated but it still shone through a little. So I spent most the night just dozing.
I’d set my alarm for 0600 and woke up at 0605. Maybe I’d turned the alarm off in my sleep. I got into my running gear. Put some band aids over my blisters and stepped out the front door into the chilly air.
I ran down towards the beach. My blisters were kinda hurting at first but stopped after about ten minutes. I ran along beach in the dark, it was really beautiful, quite still and passive. And there was hardly anyone around.
Back at the hostel I had a shower got all my stuff together and headed down the breaky. I got to the bottom of the stairs and the place was packed all with about 30 Dutchmen andd woman. I wasn’t complaining.
The only downer at breaky was a realisation that my throat was getting a little sore, not too bad but it does have a bit of potential. Hopefully it’s nothing though. I don’t want to get sick again. The 2nd aussie pair came down the stairs not long after. Turns out they’re catching the same train as me to Montpellier. They’re going to paris however. Yet they couldn’t buy there tickets all the way. Turns out the French were protesting (as they do) and they could only get their tickets halfway. So they’re banking on being able to get tickets for the second half of there trip at montpellier.
While I waited for them to eat breakfast I went and bought a coffee. All I had was a 50 Euro note. They are a pain in the ass over here. It’s so annoying how they’re all that the banks issue and that everybody hates them and doesn’t accommodate for them. As a result I got back 23.5 euros worth of change to take with my coffee.
I was pretty off and stared at the coin littered change plate for 30 seconds before putting the notes in my wallet and the coins in my hand. Back at the hostel I asked if they’de change it for me. Luckily they were in need of small change so It worked for them well and I swapped 15 coins for 2 notes. Much easier.
As we were catching the same train we walked down to the station together and they tried to grab the ticket for their leg form montpellier to Paris. Again they had no luck. Next step we went to get on the train. Turns out we must have booked out tickets at approximately the same time because I’m sitting right across the aisle from them.
On the train I got stuck into my diary for half an hour but was feeling really tired so I quit my computer and went to sleep.
The train seems really dodgy. I havn’t been on a train this average since I was in the Balkans. And is far form the luxury of the high speed train I caught 2 days ago. As a result the sounds coming from the carraige as is slightly distorts are far from reassuring. As the tracks are pretty crap too the train is slowing down and speeding up quite often. And due to the slight slack in the connections between the carraiges every time is slows and then speeds up it jolts horrible, it feels like we’ve hit something and made continuous sleep very much impossible.
I’m not sure if I’m in France yet or not. I cant smell cheese so I can only assume not. The train ride is quite beautiful along the Mediterranean although the pressure variation as we move in and out of tunnels is the worst I’ve felt ever and is well playing havok on my ears.
I’m sitting outside the Train station at Montpelliour. I’ve just been for a walk up the main street. I dunno. I wasn’t expecting anything from France, but I’m finding this place, with the little exposure I’ve had, really really beautiful. The people the buildings the roads, everything is really… charming. Admittedly I haven’t had much to do with any of the locals yet, and they say that the only thing wrong with France is that it’s full of French people. But I guess time will tell.
I’ve just been going through my diary. The Hostel in Barcelona was the 62nd location I’d slept in overnight since I started traveling 120 days ago. An easy average to calculate, just under 2 nights per bed/couch/piece of concrete outside Florence train station. No wonder I’m knackered.
I’m on the train, just went through Cannes, up untill that point I could have sworn that the French version of… oh whats it called? The star wars character… Obie one Kenobie, that’s it. The French version of Obie one was sitting behind me playing poker with his friends. I’m not sure if he was putting it on or not, but he was a dead ringer for it.
I’m on the Train. Got the over nighter to Paris. This way I don’t waste any daylight hours staring out a window at the blue sky as I did all yesterday.
The train from Montpellior was pretty packed. Although it was a pretty good train. Directly opposite me was a tall guy as well as right beside me. I was stuck against the window so I figured I’d pull my book and computer out of my bag and throw it up on top then go to the toilet before sitting down.
Straight away the guy in the Aisle got up to let me through, even before I started unpacking my stuff from my bag. It took me 5 minutes to explain to him that it was fine and my intent wasn‘t to sit down for a while. All the time he just nodded his head and said “wee wee“ before I pretty much did everything but manhandle him to make him take his seat again.
The train ride was really nice. The French coastline is absolutely Beautiful. And I just wrote in my diary and slept in-between listening to the star wars imitator and his friends play cards..
The tall guy beside me got off along time before the guy across from me who left the carriage with ‘all’ his gear at the station before me. 2 seconds later I saw him running down the Aisle before reaching under his seat to grab a small backpack. I imagine this is the one where he keeps all the important stuff.
Eventually I reached Nice and Lauren my host showed at the station less then a minute after I’d put down my gear. We caught the tram back to hers and sat talking for a good hour before her boyfriend got home.
He got home at about 7. He seemed pretty nice too. Putting on a great Australian G’day as he walked through the door. We sat chatting for a while and he asked what we wanted for dinner. I asked about frog legs. It was more off handed then anything. “Ok” he said with out batting an eyelid.
We walked to the supermarket to buy some supplies and spent 10 minutes looking for the frog legs. We grabbed these and some spuds for French fries and some salad before heading home.
Back at the appartment Nicola insisted on cooking and doing all the food prep. So I let him go with it and just sipped on the French red wine he’d opened for us. He seemed way to nice to be a French guy, I thought they were ass holes. Although every now and then he’d do or say something, innocent (I hope) , and I’d be like, “Oh no, there it is, he’s a French guy”.
The meal was served. It was great, French had done up a creamy sauce over the frogs legs and the French fries were almost more like a potato bake, a bit of a carb overload but great. This combined with the red was fantastic. And we sat there bumbling over our food untill about 2230.
The frog’s legs were good. They were kinda like two small chicken wings attached at what I can only assume was the hips of the reptile. The skin was gone and there was 2 bones in each leg and two muscles on each side of the bone. Some of them still had the feet attached aswell. It tasted kinda like nothing, I could more just taste the sauce, but the consistency was a little like calamari I guess.
-French stuff to eat in France
Frog legs - Check
After dinner we moved over to the couch and continued talking, French got out a bottle of Green Cetruesse and explained that the French like to have a shot of this after their meals to ‘help it digest’. The stuff he got out he said that only a handfull of people know the recipe to it and that it’s made by monks up in the hills using somewhere between 1 and 2 hundred different herbs. I smelt it, the main one was definitely anniseed.
We had a half shot of that. Shotting it as opposed to sipping it. It went down a little like the Rakiya, but a lot more flavorsome and a lot less firesome. Nicola asked If I’d like the other half of the shot. I asked him for a double half shot and sat sipping that before we all retired to our respective sleeping quarters at 1130, mine being a blow up mattress in the kitchen.
Today I woke up originally to French moving around the kitchen getting ready for work at 0700. I sat up to go to the bathroom as he apologized, I told him not to worry, besides it was his house.
I planned to get up at 0730. But it came and I was enjoying just lazing in bed and I’d lost an unplanned half hour so I reset my alarm for 0800. I made myself get up at 8 and was straight away hating myself for being so undisciplined and not getting up sooner.
I went straight to the kitchen to grab some food. I was searching through the cupboards (Which lauren had said to help myself too) for some cereal. At first I couldn’t find it and then I stumbled across something better. VEGEMITE, I hadn’t eaten that in months. Admittedly I don’t even eat it often at home, but being abroad made me miss it. I set about looking for bread. I’d seen lauren get home with a heap the night before and knew there was some here but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Shattered I decided to just go for the musili I’d found in the process of searching for the bread.
Next I left for a run. After the bulky dinner the night before I definitely needed it. The plan was to head for the port and along the promenade. I’d checked with google maps and headed out the door. I was instantly disoriented and just had a stab at the general direction. After running for 5 minutes I looked behind me and noticed a sign indicating that the port was in the exact direction opposite to the one which I’d taken.
On reversing my course I eventually hit the port and turned left along the marina. The boats here were awesome, floating in some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. I think it’s because of the rocks, or lack of sand that it able to be picked up by the current to inhibit the visability through the water.
Eventually I hit a dead end and reversed my course. Back past where I’d hit the port. This path took me around a cliff face in which a giant WW1 statue had been carved into. Running along the cliff with the swells crashing into the rocks less then ten meters below I rounded the bend and laid my eyes on one of the most scenic tourist beaches ever. It was magnificent.
I was running along raised concrete path when I looked down and noticed a phone. I had quick scroll through it with the intention of finding something like mum or home but it was all in French so I pocketed it and figured Nicola would work it out later.
I kept running along the beach wishing I hadn’t wasted so much time and had come straight here before turning around and running along the actual rocks. This was pretty painful and I could see no benefit from it, so I returned to the comfortability of the concrete and ran home.
Just before I got back to the flat I noticed the phone vibrating and answered it. “Hello” I said. “Bon Jour” was the reply
“Do you speak English” I asked
“Non.. Ahhh….telephone to me” was the response I got.
“Any English” I enquired again.
“Ahhhh telephone to me” was the same response I got.
At this point I was kinda pissed off. As Australians we have 2 excuses, although poor, for not speaking another language. One, we speak English, the universal language. And two we’re so far away from any country of any importance that doesn’t speak English. This a****** had neither of these excuses and should have learnt English. It would have avoided the problem we were having, not only if I had picked it up but if anyone in Europe who didn’t speak French and was traveling had of picked it up.
Back at the flat the phone rang again. Reluctantly I answered. It was a girl who did speak English. I introduced myself and was quickly redirected to another bloke who too spoke English. He explained that the phone belonged to the City of Neice and that it would be very appreciated if I could return it and would save the owner much grief. “No worries” I said “where would you like me to bring it” he said he could meet me where I was. I gave him the address and he gave me a thousand thank you’s and said he’d be there within half an hour.
Unfortunately I was in the shower when he came so lauren took the phone down. She said there was something unusual about it. He said he worked for the police and he’d seen me take the phone (dispite me looking around for an owner when I found it) and that if the sim card was removed the whole phone would shut down. Lauren said she thought it could have had something to do with witness protection. I just thought that was her imagine getting the best of her, my conclusion was that it was a dead drop designed for the transfer of intell of too international competing states. Much more likely.
After I finally got my stuff together we got ourstuff together and went to the bus station. We got there at 1025 there was a bus leaving at 1030. Bonus number 1. I ran to the closest café grabbed a coffee and returned just before the bus showed. It was only 1 Euro. Bonus number 2. I’d been expecting 7 or 8 euros on the train so this was sweet.
The bus ride took about 30 minutes. After which lauren joined me at the seat I was at to take photo’s and confessed she didn’t know where we needed to get out. Luckily the red headed European looking lady beside me, (with the gorgeous daughter on the other side of the aisle, who’s eyebrows were doing no justice to her struggle to hide her red hair), was actually from Perth and her husband’s family was actually from Melbourne. Campelltown and Kew to be precise.
Despite these traits she was actually really nice, and prevented us ending up at the end of the line 10k’s from where we wanted to be and even walked with us from the stop in the direction of the casino and gave us her copy of the time table to get home.
In Monte Carlo, which is the capital/only city in the 1.26sq km state, that is the second smallest in the world after the Vatican, which is Monacco, we walked past the casino. Walking through the parking lot of Ferraris Bentleys mazeratis and Mercedes, we attempted, kinda in vain, to enter the casino. It was closed untill 2. Well that’s what the security guard told me anyway.
We walked down through town and after a quick pit stop to get coffee up to ‘the rock’ to where the palace and the cathedrale is. Up here was a real hike but absolutely amazing. It afforded great views all the way east and west up the Mediterranean coast. after looking around the palace and checking out the cathedrale (which was also conveniently closed untill 2) we walked the long way back to town.
The next step was working out where to catch a bus from. It had dropped us off on a one way street so it definitely wasn’t there. Eventually we sorted it out and after getting yelled at by cops for crossing in the wrong spot (which we ignored and played the dumb tourist which was easy because we couldn’t understand anything more then the gyst of what they were getting at we found the bus stop.
The return back was fine. For me. But for Lauren it was a completely different matter. She was feeling really sick, and a few times I thought we were going to have to get off and wait for the next bus. But she hung in there and we eventually got back to Nice.
At nice the first stop was the book shops to try and get another LP to replace my other Wilson. First we tried and Fnak we had come across yet it possessed every LP under the planet except the one of my desire and then we tried an English speaking bookstore around the corner.
It was having a siesta till 2 (Conveniantly) so we went to get coffee and crossoints. Unfortunately the place we chose didn’t have any crossoints left. So I settled for a coffee and sat watching the world go by for 15 minutes.
Again we had no luck at this bookshop. Yet she was able to inform us that she would be receiving one on Thursday, pitty I’ll be in Paris by then. So we set off to the train station. Here we had more luck. There was an overnight train, and the booking fee was only 1.5 Euros. Compared to the 7 to 10 I’d been paying previously.
From here we just wandered back through town and to the beach where I’d ran that morning. I wanted to get some photos so we slowly daudled back along the route I’d previously taken. We stopped only once. For another coffee and some crepes. Lauren going with the (Sickly) option of nutella and I had chocolat glasse, (chocolate ice-cream). I’d asked for “Petite Glasse” yet when the crepe came out, dinner plate sized with a single small scoop of ice-cream in the middle I regretted it straight away. But I got over that pretty quickly.
-French stuff to eat in France
Frog legs - Check
Crepes - Check
Back at the house I just packed, made a couple of sandwiches and finalized some more admin before taking a photo of us on the couch and leaving. Unfortunately French was stuck at work till 9. Making it a 13 hour day. And couldn’t make the photo.
After a short ride and a fare evaded tram ride later I was at the station. I had to wait a while but eventually the train neared and we parted.
The train is pretty cool. Nothing special, no restaurant car (I was banking on being able to get a coffee) and the floors have like the circular raised grips on them so I wont be able to sleep on it. But what it lacks for it make up with the seats. They fully recline all the way back so as long as nobody gets on and want to sit behind me hopefully after I finish this sentence I’ll be able to have my sandwich dinner and sleep untill I arrive in paris in 9 and a half hours time.
That actually worked ok. Although broken the second time I looked at my watch it was quarter to seven!!