Thursday, May 05, 2005

French Riviera

French Riviera
Wanted to stop in Montpellier, France, but there weren't any reasonable accomadations so I decided to go on thru to Marseille. So I bought my ticket. The only problem was by the time I got back on the internet all the accomadations got booked up. Oh well. Too late now. I've got my ticket. No turning back. Worst case I'll pitch the tent. But I was warned that there are some sketchy parts of Marseille so upon arriving I give the hotel across the street a try. It's a dive, but only 18 euro which is what I've been pretty much paying for hostels. However, instead of sharing a room with gaggles of other travelers, I have the room to myself. King size bed, table, chair, balcony, bureau and a spare twin bed in case the King size is too comfortable. Really quite French, Quite Quaint! So I keep with the theme and buy a bottle of Bordeaux, some cheese, bread and kick back for the evening after a walk around town. It really was picturesque. I thought about painting the scene for prosperities sake, but wouldn't you know it, I forgot my brushes and oils in NJ;)
Next morning I overslept. Damn king size bed!! Made to the bus station and got on the bus to nice with literally 2 minutes to spare. Nice ride; Rocky hills, vineyards and the sea. Checked into the Hostel Bacarat which is really just a hotel which they thru some bunkbeds into a couple of rooms. The kitchen consisted of a microwave and that was it. No alcolhol, no common room, but again met some cool guys in the room. Glen (Russian New Yorker transplanted to Miami), Ford (China), Mark (England), Paul and Christian (Perth) and an English student whose name escapes me now. The first night we just walked the boardwalk. No sand here, just stones. Paul and Christian had dinner at the Hippopontamus while I sipped some wine.
The next day Glen, Christian, Paul and I decided to check out Monaco. Paul suggested the bus since the train goes thru alot of tunnels and it would afford us a better view. Only thing was, when we got the bus station they told us there were no buses. Huh, that's strange! So we took the train to the Monaco station which makes the other stations look like hovels. Got off and it was eerie. No one was around! Start walking around and still no one is around and all the shops are closed. It was like a ghost town. Something is definately not right. The only people we saw were perhaps the best dressed policmen in the world. Finally we asked one of them what the deal was. After looking at us like we were from Mars and deciding that we weren't yanking his chain, he told us that King Ranier III's funeral was happening. Ohhh, that explains things. So actually it was quite nice roaming around with any crowds. The only thing going on there was a tennis masters tournament. In fact, we literally almost bumped into Raphael Nadal as he was leaving the hotel for a game. So we wandered up to the arena and found a market that was actually opened. Bought some lunch and ate overlooking the harbor and the only marble boardwalk I know of on this planet. After that we decided to have a look at the famous Monte Carlo Casino even though we knew it was closed. We are so glad we did. In front of it is what can only be considered a Perfect garden. Really spectacular! Terraced and all the flowers were in bloom, palm trees and a single bust to set things off. The pictures are cool, but don't do it justice. I really don't think it could be improved upon. On the way back to the station, Glen asked a couple of Canadian girls if they knew the way. More to flirt than for actual info. They said they were going back the way they came, but I opted for another route. The race is on. we went straight up a huge set of stairs. After catching our breathe we realized we were right there at the station. Looks like we won the race unless the girls sprouted wings!The next day was kind of lazy. Later that night we went to an irish pub called the Thor. Solo guitarist downstairs and a band upstairs playing U2, Radiohead, Coldplay, etc. Not the greatest band, but great song selection. The next morning we woke up to a freezing room and realized it was raining. So we did laundry. $10 a load. It's like that all over Europe. I wonder if a washing machine will fit in my pack?? Late night the guys crash a party in the next room over, but don't last very long. College kids just playing drinking games. Tomorrow I head of to the Italian Riviera via Ventimiglia. Mark and Glen said they were gonna come along, but can't get out of bed. Actually it was a good decision for them 'cause it was farther than we thought. I didn't get into Genoa until 4 pm. But I'll save the rest for the next blog.....