Wednesday, October 18, 2006

We’re back to London after a wonderful weekend in Côte D’Azur. Nice, to be more specific. The trip was Cookie’s 1st anniversary present and I must say that it couldn’t be a better present. The weather was simply great, remembering Rio in autumn: warm sun, cold breeze, people having fun on the promenade, either just walking, or looking/sleeping at the beach, or taking the dogs for a walk, or roller skating. As we were on a romantic trip, we preferred long walks under the sun, ice creams and dinners, as opposed to huge queues to enter museums, bus tours, and trying to visit the whole place in just a few hours. It worked.

In the beginning Nice didn’t impressed that much, mainly – in my case – because it looked like any other city. Dog owners let their dogs poo on the beach (which, by the way, is not sandy, but made of awfully painful pebbles) and they don’t clean (can you image the smell), there are some people begging for money (well dressed and well looked people) on the streets, one of the main streets was a mess due to the construction of trams – or whatever it was. So, basically, it reminded me the chaos Rio can be, in a smaller version, and with people speaking French. As we arrived Saturday afternoon (the flight was 1 hour late), we decided to go for a walk on the beach, visit the center quickly, have dinner and go to bed early.

Second day we were more energetic, so we decided to explore Nice by foot. We went to the old town and its little isle, the castle (with gorgeous views to the Mediterranean Sea), and a street market. This part was lovely, as the old Nice looks like a medieval town. Fortunately, we didn’t smell any dog’s poo, but flowers, French perfume, olives and food. Overall, the city is not cheap, but it isn’t so expensive either. My impression was that tourist of all types could buy there. The food was good, but the only item of the French cuisine we’ve tried was the baguette.

Third and last day we had this great idea of spending in Monaco- Monte Carlo. It is only 17 minutes from Nice on a non-stop train, and the return ticket costs € 6.20 per person. It worth every cent, as the trip is breathtaking and Monaco is even nicer than Nice. The streets are so narrow and the buildings rise from the rocks, giving you the feeling of being in a labyrinth. It might be claustrophobic for some, but I love it. The minute that we left the train station I said “I wanna live here”. Maybe I wouldn’t, if I’ve spent more time there. Monaco – Monte Carlo is a tiny piece of land surrounded by sea, France and Italy. It is well known by its Princess Grace Kelly and her daughters Stephanie and Caroline (I remember when I was a kid that I thought that these two were the most beautiful women in Earth. It was probably because they were princesses), The Grand Casino and the F1 race. If you think that Nice is a posh place, you should see Monaco. Well, you can see the photos here, but I’m sure they don’t translate what the place is in real life.

We went to almost every place we could in Monaco. We saw the change of the guard (which I haven’t seen in London!), saw the Palace on the outside (we weren’t in the mood to visit palaces and museums), walked through the streets of the old town, and went to the Cousteau Aquarium. That one was my favorite. Mine and the kids. :-P Oh yes, after that, we crossed the place and went to the Casino, where we (I?) performed two of the most pathetic episodes of my life abroad.

The first one was me, trying to ask the employee of the Casino – who, by the way, spoke very little English, which, by the way, is very surprising, once the place receives people from all over the world – for two coins of € 1.00 to try the machines. I showed him a € 50.00 and I said slowly “I just want one token for the machines, but don’t have smaller”. And he said “€ 1.00 or € 2.00?”, and as I was already too embarrassed for getting such little betting coins, I asked of € 2.00. The guy got my € 50.00 and gave me a bunch of € 2s. I was waiting for the change, surprised how many coins € 2.00 could get you, when I read on the side of the coins that it was 25 coins of € 2.00 = € 50.00. As it was useless to explain him in English that I didn’t want all those coins and I wanted my money back (“this is all the money I have in the world, sir”), I called Cipri – who was supposed to know some French, from old school days – to talk to the guy and get our money back! I think that the guy understood what we’ve wanted since the beginning, but he didn’t want to believe in what his ears were hearing. He is probably used to high bets and rich people and must have been offended by us! :-) By the way, Cipri talked to the guy in an even slower English than mine. “No… we – pointing at us – want one – finger showing # 1 – coin, not – head nodding – all. Just want to try. Money back, s'il vous plaît”.

The second one was in the ladies toilet, when some ladies were trying to talk to me in French, and instead of just saying that I didn’t speak French, I was replying “oui” to almost everything, nodding my head, smiling and ending with “merci”. The only part I’ve understood was when I said to an old lady with legs problems that she could skip the line, and she explained the ladies behind me (those that were speaking to me, without noticing that I didn’t speak French) that I said she could do so. I think the ladies were saying something like “very good, you should do that, merci, merci, merci”. So, “oui” and “merci” sounded very much appropriated.


This post was written yesterday, but I was without internet connection. So here it is. Tomorrow I will post pictures and more information on Nice and Monaco.

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