Monday, March 16, 2015

Nice and Monaco

A while ago I was wasting yet another weekend doing nothing, and somewhere between sleeping too long and watching too much Netflix I suddenly got angry at myself for wasting the short amount of time I have here. I needed to go somewhere. I posted a message on Facebook asking if anyone would be interested in going to Nice some weekend, as it was one of the places I regretted not going when I lived in Mont. Three people replied, and the four of us took a half hour plane ride down to the Mediterranean.

Overall the weekend was great. The group I went with was awesome, we were from everywhere: Me the 'Murcan, Chelsea the Aussi, Catia from Portugal, and Eloisa from Mexico. There was a lot of chocolate and laughter, a hostel cat named Victor, and lots of languages (mostly French but also Spanish and Japanese and Portuguese and I may have stuck in a Polish word here or there). It was a lot of fun. Nice itself, though, decided it wasn't going to welcome us with open arms, but with open skies: it rained the whole time. Nice just isn't Nice when you're spending your time hiding from wind and rain rather than beach-hopping and basking in the Mediterranean sun. On top of that the flight there was delayed for two hours, so we ended up playing Uno and eating cookies in the airport for nearly four hours. The good company made up for it though.

That first day we got in late, so we went out for Kebabs and then walked along the waterfront for a couple of hours before going back to the hostel to "sleep," or in my case, lay in bed until 3:00 am. (I've been having trouble sleeping lately). It was nice being back in the south, the palm trees reminded me of Montpellier. The beaches were different though, there was no sand, just rocks, and it didn't smell beach-ey, and it had a different vibe. So I suppose what I'm trying to say is that it actually wasn't like Mont. Sorry I lied.

The second day, like I said, was cold and rainy, so we didn't experience Nice in all it's glory. We saw the main sights, walked down the Promenade des Anglais, saw the main view from the hill, etc. We also ended up meeting up with one of my classmates from a couple French classes at UW who's studying abroad in Morocco and happened to be in the south of France for his vacation during the same weekend. Then we went back to the hostel where we sat in the kitchen and talked with the others for hours while eating too many M&Ms and drinking tea.

We spent the last day trying not to get blown away by the wind in Monaco, which is about an hour away by bus. It's a micro-state tax haven where you basically walk around staring at rich peoples' yachts and ask yourself who you have to sell your soul to to live like that. It's pretty fascinating, actually, a whole country, basically turned into a playground for the rich. Eventually we stopped for lunch, and it was so windy we ended up sitting on some stairs in some little street, huddling in a circle. It was an interesting contrast: being in the "country" with the highest GDP in the world, full of yachts and nice houses while eating our leftover-pasta-and-whatever-else-we-had-left sandwiches in a windy corner outside. We only spent about three or four hours there which was enough to see the Monte Carlo casino and the other main sights before heading back to Nice, deciding it was too cold, and then going straight to the airport.

Overall: a good, relaxed trip.

Probably about half of these I stole from Catia, whose pictures were great (I literally have a folder called "stolen from Catia"), hopefully she doesn't mind. I actually tried to cut down on the photos this time... I wasn't super successful, but there could have been more. Enjoy!


I think this is one of the French athletes who died in the recent helicopter crash (click here) 
At the market:

Remember when I said it was windy?
Chelsea decided to wear a skirt and,
well... this was the only thing we could think of to keep it from going all
Marilyn Monroe on her

This is basically what all my photos of Nice look like
There's a hill in the middle of the city, on top is a big park where you can get the best view of the sea and see some less-than-impressive ruins. It's here that we, by some miracle, actually managed to find Martin, the old classmate we met up with

And then we all went back and sat and ate chocolate and drank tea and tried to get Victor the cat off the table...not very successfully. 
And the Eloisa became everyone's favorite 
And then we walked around and I tried to learn some Spanish. Mostly I just eavesdropped on Catia and Eloisa though
The Casino! Too poor, too poor. A main tourist activity, but actual residents are forbidden from playing. 

I mean... this basically sums up the whole city/country/principality/whatever

Right out of a storybook 
Francois Grimaldi, he captured Monaco in the 13th century by disguising himself as a monk. Read the story here  Technically the current royal family isn't blood-related to him, as he had no children, but they're still called the Grimaldis

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