No more Vins por moi!

Breakfast was served a bit late today; rather I should say I stumbled over to Le Circuit for another cheesy omelet at Noon to be exact.  I have seem to of acquired a wee bit of a hangover from last night.  My intention for a quiet evening in my hotel slurping down a can of tuna mixed with sun dried tomatoes and mayonnaise (why can’t we get this shit in the States?!), and a quintessential baguette while doing homework when I got interrupted by the sounds of wonderful jazz music coming from the street below.  I ended my call (er, homework, did I say call?! ) with my friend to go investigate where the fun was being had and found it around the corner at Caves Romagnan.  (Hey AnDre – it was a jam session with Frank DeLucca on guitar, Jean-Marc Barccarini on sax, Laurent Roquebrun on bass, and DeDe Guiglion on drums – awesome!)  I was so excited to see my cute couple from the Nicose restaurant the other night was there, too!

I was not so excited when old man Aldo wanted to dance with me with his nasty, tobacco stained teeth.  He bribed me with wine, so I relented to ONE spin around the dance floor.  Thank GAWD the song was short because I was now gagging on the cologne he had bathed himself in.  When the jam session ended, I went down to the Promenade Des Anglais to watch the teenagers make out on the beach and break their Saturday night curfews.  I stopped briefly to watch a band from Italy playing old Broadway tunes in the Plaza (in a rather interesting formation, I think) when Aldo caught up with me…..sigh….

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He had bought a bottle of wine and asked if he could join me at the beach (at least that is the best I could translate from the little French I remember from the five years I studied it in school, good lord!).  I told him that was fine, but he better keep his distance because his cologne smelled like patchouli and I hate patchouli (and anything else that smells of Woodstock and Yoga).  Sadly, he didn’t seem to understand my French all that well and he made a move on the beach to kiss me –GROSS!  I said I wanted to fall in love in Barcelona, with some hot latin lova – not some old douche bag in Nice who hadn’t even asked my name, was 4’6” on platforms, and smelled worse than Old Spice.  I got up, kicked sand at him, and stormed back to my hotel – which took an hour for my pissed off, drunk arse to find, but it didn’t stop me from getting a picture of the Notre Dame lit up like a disco at night.

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To put myself in a better mood, I went to see the Musee Marc Chagall – and they actually let you take pictures of the artwork!  Chagall was Jewish and fled to France to hide from the Nazis during WWII – he painted some really amazing interpretations of the Old Testament as the Jews fled Egypt and in many of the pieces he ties in a pictorial in one corner of each painting his own story fleeing the Nazis.  It is the first exhibit of religious art that I was totally enthralled with.  Here is another interesting tidbit of trivia: it is also the only museum that was constructed while an artist was still alive.  The museum displays other contemporary artwork by young French artists of which I also took pictures.  My most favorite piece of ironic work displayed juxtaposed in a museum full of stories of the Old Testament and the Songs of Solomon……the Penis Rug!

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Now refreshed and inspired to work on my own writing, I headed back to La Plage to enjoy the remainder of the afternoon, allowing the creative juices to flow.  Not less than 15 minutes of me sitting down to pull out my journal, Enzo sat down next to me to chat…. let’s describe Enzo as Jersey Shores meets Euro Trash, with bad shoes.   Quick into our conversation he asked if I was married and if I wanted to go to dinner…..

Now the Universe is just f**king with me…….

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The Front Desk can kiss my ARSE

This morning is off to a rough start, as I just had it out with the front desk attendant.  It has been two days now since I checked into my hotel and no one has come by to resolve the issue of the water by the front door of my room.  Of course, I know why there is water on the floor…..because the shower is so damn small that every time I attempt to turn around I get goosed by the faucet handle (I am going to start taking showers here three times a day)!  All kidding aside, there is nowhere for the water to go but OUT of the shower when I am in the shower, because the shower stall is that small.  I want to cover my ass though and make sure they know the problem is not me, that there was water on the floor when I checked in and I have been diligently checking progress several times a day on when they are going to resolve the problem.

Insert new guy at the front desk this morning, who again didn’t understand what I was saying about water on the floor, so he came upstairs and felt the carpet and told me it was dry. Yes, I realize it is dry, because I have been sleeping with the window open for the last two days to air out the stank ass mildew smell and dry the room out a bit.  And THEN, he went into a lecture about how to properly take a shower in the teeny-weeny shower stall.  So, I got all French on his ass and told him I knew how to take a shower unlike most Frenchmen who wouldn’t know what to do with a bar of soap and bucket of water if you held a gun to their head and said “bathe bitch!”  Then, I said I was very unhappy with his treatment, threw my hands up and stormed out of the hotel for my ritual church tour.

It must be a-hole Frenchmen day because while at the Notre Dame de l’Assomption (150-year-old Basilique in Nice, yep every town has one), this poor woman was walking around viewing the Stations of the Cross and she tripped and fell into a pew.  And what did her husband do?  NOTHING!  He just stood there while she slowly got up off the floor to collect her things and sat down while she waited for the embarrassment to pass – and the whole time he just stood there like a doofus. I write this all while I am IN the church (someone smite me!).  Suffice to say there will be no crying for me in a church today, I better go walk off this bad attitude.  So, I headed up another ginormous hill to see some ancient Greco-Roman ruins (awesome), the Matisse Museum and the Montesarry de Cimiez.

I was impressed with the variety of work displayed from Matisse – I had no idea his style had varied so widely from paintings similar to Monet in the late 1800s to more abstract cubism and sculpture in the 1920s-40s, then it all changed in the 50s, after he had surgery performed due to complications from duodenal cancer, when he became influenced by artwork brought home by preschoolers – it was a lot of cut and paste crap that I just didn’t get, but he loved the ocean so I will forgive him for his I have to be an oddball artist phase of papier-mâché all over the walls of his house (his poor wife).  I did stop at his grave, located in the Monetary nearby, to pay my respects and apologize for being such a twit and went onto explain how my attitude from the morning was plaguing my day – I think he forgave me because as I was leaving the park, I saw a woman playing with her dog and I felt the little black cloud lift.  She was blowing bubbles and he would jump up and catch each one until they were gone and then stand there wagging his tail until she did it again – hilarious! (I do object to the apparent dog-racism that the French have displayed in their parks, though – why is it that dogs aren’t allowed to crap in the park, but the pigeons can desecrate the whole place?!)

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The day got even better when I stopped to get a beignet on the way back to my hotel – how can you not be cheered up by fried sweet dough rolled in sugar?! And I also saw a little blue car reminiscent of the one my grandfather let me play with as a kid…..they might be the same size too.

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La Colline du Chateau

Last night, I went to a restaurant just down the street from my ghetto ass hotel, based on a recommendation from Trip Advisor – Restaurant Nicose Voyageur Nissart (it’s kind of a long time for such a tiny little place, don’t you think?)

It was fantastic! I had a sea bass bouillabaisse, lots of delicious bread, a decadent chocolate pear tart for dessert (I may have to go back tomorrow and have this one again, tres bon!), and I ordered a 50-cl carafe of red wine to wash it down with. Obviously, I need to brush up on my metric conversions – thanks goes to Malia for informing me that 50-cl equates to 17-ounces! Of course, as soon as the waiter set the carafe on the table, I started laughing – there was no WAY my skinny rail ass was going to finish that and still be able to walk back to my hotel (or even remember where my hotel was, regardless of the fact that it was only about 50-meters away). There was an adorable couple sitting at the table next to me, she was French and he was German and they were trying to communicate in half-English, half-Charades. It was adorable, so, like a kid in a candy store, I thought it would be fun to add in another layer of difficulty to their evening by lending them the rest of the wine I was unable to drink. (Aren’t I just so nice?!)

I want to take an opportunity here to give the French another shout out – hard to believe I know, but I am happy to report that they have no issue with telling you exactly what they think (hmmm….maybe I am French after all?! Mon Dieu!) Case in point: the waiter asked a different couple how their food was, to which the man went into a tirade about why it sucked, how they could have made the meal better and then he threw his arms up in disgust and pushed the plate away from him. The best part is that the waiter retorted the food didn’t suck, instead the man was just being a pain in the arse, to which the man got his panties all in a wad, and their argument went on for another 10 minutes or so. Suffice to say, I was giggling the whole time as I played out a vision of a Frenchman taking some contrite teacher’s yoga class and how his honesty would just turn them into a puddle (I did feel the tiniest moment of guilt, then I snapped out of it and went back to the hotel to sleep) – or maybe I was just giggling from the rouge vins…..nez pas?

Today, I plan to hike all over frickin’ Nice, so I fueled up on a hearty breakfast of café creme, a cheesy omelet (tres bien), and a huge baguette smeared with butter and jam. With a full belly, I headed towards the beach, since many of the monuments I wanted to tour (and get pictures of) are conveniently lined up along the Promenade des Anglais (big boardwalk that connects the beaches of Nice). Oh and time out for a second…… I think my new jail is located in Islamabad, not Nice, at least that is how it appears as I was walking through the street near my hotel. Normally, I would not be bothered – since I don’t distinguish whether I like people by their race, creed, color, religion, or what have you, but by whether or not they are an a-hole. However, today I was bothered because I was apparently the a-hole for having a GIANT dragon tattoo on my leg! Can you imagine how these poor Muslim men are reacting to some white girl walking in their ‘hood with a tank top and shorts on and this tattoo?! One man make some rude remark about it, but I don’t know what it was, but since he was shaking his head as he looked down at my leg, I can only guess what it was and it can’t be good.

Anyway, I hoofed it as quickly as I could out of Islamabad and back to Nice. Once at the beach, I headed East towards the oldest part of the city, La Colline du Chateau where the remnants of a castle and much of the port and old city walls remain. They have turned the area into a gorgeous park, complete with magnificent waterfalls. The bonus is that if you can climb the 90+meters to the top, you get to see some beautiful panoramic views of the entire city and the port (complete with big ass boats….er…yachts that house bonsai trees in their galley and all!).

As I was taking time to catch my breath and glance around the joint, I noticed a cemetery, set what seemed, due north of the Chateau and proceeded to stalk through the whole damned thing the remainder of the afternoon. By the way, when you aren’t sure where to go in a wilderness type setting, be sure to follow the lumberjack, they will lead you the correct direction every time.

 

Not wanting to get completely derailed from my original scavenger hunting plans, I did manage to fit in seeing all of the sights I had intended to, then set my focus on finding the cemetery. It took me a good hour or so to wind my way around the streets, alleyways and steps up and down, before I finally navigated my way to it with the help of a halfassed map I got from the tourist office upon arrival – hooray! Now it may seem creepy to you, but frankly, Scarlet, I don’t give a damn – the cemetery was beautiful, peaceful, quiet, and the perfect spot for an afternoon nap to rest up from hiking yet another Fourteener that morning (I mean really, who is going to disturb you in a cemetery? No one! They’re all dead, that’s who!)

I woke up pleasantly refreshed as the sun was just starting to go down, so I made my way back towards my hotel to grab dinner at Crazy Wok (Yes, I came to France and I am eating Chinese Food – and that shit was good, yo! Chicken stir-fried with ginger makes me holla!) On my way back, I noticed this homeless man spreading his crap out on the street everywhere. Now there is something you don’t see every day –a homeless yard sale. I wondered what kind of crap he wanted to get rid of, but was afraid to investigate to closely, I didn’t want to get fleas.

Apres Marseille….Nice!

My train leaves for Nice at Noon, so best not to chance anything and schedule to leave the hotel by 10am.  There is a short ride from the subway to the train station, and I already made sure I have plenty of euros.  I want to commend the French (sorry Chris) because they haven’t screwed me on the exchange rate, nor do they charge extra fees (so it wasn’t just the taxi driver).  I think they really just want you to hurry up and get your business done so that they can go back out and smoke (it interesting to see a culture of people be so lazy, yet so impatient at the same time – boggles the mind really).  Thankfully, with all of my planning, I arrive at the station before 11am (as my family will attest, being this early to travel anywhere is definitely rare, if not a record).  I went to the billet machine to retrieve my ticket, but I did not have much luck since I didn’t have the actual credit card that I purchased the ticket with in my possession (I actually left that credit card back in JAX, but had made a copy of it to bring with me so that I could buy tickets, like…..for the trains, online).

Yet, the system had outsmarted me again…. shit!  Now, what to do?  I waited in line to speak to a customer service agent about my predicament.  Unlike moi, there were soooooome people who did plan accordingly and were late – you could see they were obviously panicked that they had to stand in a line that wasn’t moving fast enough and their train was leaving soon (It is easy to spot when someone running late for a plane or a train, they didn’t plan accordingly and the counter agent is taking forever. No matter what language you speak, you can see their worry they may not make their connection because they dance around like they have to go Number 2, reeeeeeally bad, but are afraid to poo in a public restroom).  Like any dumbass caught in this situation, these poor planners tried to cut in line, only to be yelled at and pushed aside by the other people who had been waiting before them.  One crafty young fellow, waited for the weakest link (that would be yours truly) and gave me 10 euros so that he could stand in line with me and then go ahead since my turn was next.  Mais oui, monsieur!  I was in no rush, even if the four people behind me were…… C’est la Vie!

Our turn was up next so he followed me to the counter, and while I hunted around for my confirmation number (since I hadn’t written it down, yet thought I had this planned so well, karma bit me in the arse again – doh!), he made his break for it, got his tickets and ran off to catch his train that was departing in 2 minutes!  Bon Chance!  Meanwhile, I managed to locate my confirmation number and asked the agent if he would be able to print me out a paper ticket, no problem…….until, he asked to see my credit card that I had used to make the payment…..double shit!  I explained I did not have the card on me, but I had a copy of it and showed that to him.  He asked where the original was and I said at home, where is home?, America, well I guess you won’t be able to retrieve it then will you?  (YAY for funny ticket agents!) He worked his magic, anway, and printed me out a ticket then handed it to me and told me they don’t normally allow it, but that he would this time since I tried to speak to him in French!  Magnifique and Merci Beaucoup, Monsieur!

With my train ticket now in hand, 10 euros in my pocket and an hour still to kill (since my train was now delayed 30 minutes), I found myself a chocolate croissant and a café au lait.  When I finished “breakfast”, I decided to have a looksy around and noticed that the station is probably the cleanest area of all of Marseille.  They also offer a wide range of stores you can shop at while you wait like Sephora, Armani, and, you know, all of the places I normally visit – BAH!  Seeing as how there was nothing I could afford, nor did I want to haul any extra crap around with me for the next two months, I sat down instead and worked on my homework.  I am going to take a moment out of this story to just express to you how much I effing HATE Macroeconomics, every time I try to read that shite, I want to burn my eyes out of my skull.

And we’re back – well actually I am on the train to Nice.  The countryside is beautiful as it goes by – sort of looks like Grand Junction but greener, and since I know what Grand Junction looks like, I decide to take a nap (I am guessing that having sugar and caffeine in the mornings is making me nose dive in the afternoon, but it is my vacation and I will keep doing it because chocolate and coffee is wonderful together, so there!).  When I woke up, we were near Cannes and the ocean was an unbelievable deep, vibrant shade of blue.  To which I did not get a picture because all you would have seen was the dirt and bug guts on the windows of the train.  I was excited to see the water and ready to be off the dang train already!  Thank GAWD twenty minutes later, we pulled into the Nice Ville train station where I quickly departed to find my hotel, hunt down some lunch (my stomach was growling so loudly for the last half hour of our train ride that the man sitting next to me got up and changed seats).

I walked almost directly to my hotel and checked into my room and went upstairs to put my things down.  The room smelled musty when I stepped inside and I quickly figured out why – the carpet by the front door was soaking wet!  I set my bags down so that I could assess the issue, which looked to most likely be coming from the bathroom.  I wanted to make the best of things, because Nice is also busy and there were no other rooms available for the weekend, so I didn’t have much choice.  My room is even smaller than the jail cell in Barcelona, so this will now be my new jail cell for the weekend, but musty, wet dog smelling carpet was not acceptable.  I went back downstairs and tried to explain the problem to the attendant at the front desk.  He did not understand what “wet carpet” means, so he came back up to the room so that I could show him, to which he said he would let his colleague know immediately.  Whatever, dude – I need lunch so I am going to leave and go find something other than your head to bite off, and you work it out while I am gone…….

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