Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Life Amongst the Bentleys and the Rolls Royce

One of my final trips this semester was this weekend: Nice (pronounced like "niece") and Monaco/Monte Carlo. In case you don't know, Nice and Monaco are two of the most popular places to vacation on the French Riviera. Of course, late November isn't exactly what you would call primo-beach season, but we took it in stride because that means that this typically extravagant get away city for the rich and famous of the world is in it's off season. And I'm sure we all know what that means. DISCOUNTED. RATES. For starters, we stayed in a hotel, yes a hotel not a hostel, for a very reasonable price. Oh what a splurge, to stay in a hotel. Instead of spending the whole weekend  there though, we decided to make it a one night stay, just doing Saturday to Sunday.

We caught an early flight and were in Nice by 9 am. Since we couldn't drop our backpacks off at our hotel room yet, we decided to walk down the main street (of which unfortunately, I still don't even know the name), look around, and find a cafe for breakfast. We ended up at a precious, cozy little place where we had cappuccinos and pastries. After breakfast, we dropped our bags at the hotel, wandered around town a bit more, then caught a train to Monaco. We picked up some baguettes and cheese to eat en route on the train to suffice for lunch, and it made for an interesting situation. The three of us got lots of looks on the train from passengers. Either three American girls eating bread and cheese looked strange or they were giving us dirty looks for eating on the train. Well, that's what we thought. However it was actually very different. One lady who we thought had been giving us the stink-eye, actually asked us what kind of cheese we were eating because it smelled so good. Then she asked if she could try it so we gave her a little piece! And another lady who had been watching us said "Ah, a baguette and cheese, classic French. Now all you are missing is Red Wine!" And what's even more interesting, is both of them were French. I know we all have heard the stereotype that French people are rude and snobby, and while I"m not saying that's not true, I will say that every French person we interacted with this weekend was almost excessively nice. (And as a side note, the cheese we were eating was Boursin garlic and herb. Yes, they sell it in the States. And in advanced, you're welcome. Because trust me, you'll thank me.)

 Now, in case you don't know (as I didn't) Monaco is in fact a different country. It is a self-governed city-state, that France has no jurisdiction over. Monaco and it's most well known part of town, Monte-Carlo, are the stomping grounds of the ridiculously rich. I saw more Bentleys, Rolls Royces, and Ferraris in my 5 hours there then the rest of my life combined. Yikes. Once we arrived, we walked through the town a bit then down to the port to see the ridiculous number of yachts, ranging from speedboat sized to small cruise ship size. Absurd. With stars in our eyes, we walked on, up the hill next to the port to find the Casino. I'm guessing you've heard of Monte Carlo's famous Casino. (Here's a hint, it's the inspiration for the Casino of Casino Royale.) Ya. That casino. We decided that since we were here we just couldn't pass up the chance and we spent a little time in front of the slot machines. It was truly an interesting experience. I've never thought much of gambling aside from Black Jack, Roulette, and of course Texas Hold 'Em, and while I don't foresee a lot of slot playing in my future, it was quite fun. I myself was so fortunate to turn a profit. € 9.04 to be exact. After the casino, we walked around a bit more, caught the bus back to Nice, grabbed dinner and called it a night.

Port of Hercules, containing the largest collection of most extravagant yachts you'll probably ever see


the hotel where we stayed. NOT. 

so overwhelmed and loving being in a nice hotel, even if it was only for 5 minutes

my winnings from the casino. all € 14.04

The Monte Carlo Casino

in front of the Monte Carlo Casino

Sunday morning we checked out of the hotel around 9 and made our way back into town. We grabbed a crepe breakfast at a cafe and then headed down towards the port. By far one of my favorite things of the trip was the flower market that we went to Sunday morning. Not only were there tons of gorgeous flowers but there were fruits, cheeses, spices, candies and soaps. Oh the soaps. They were so pretty and smelled so good. And they were all cut in those perfect little rectangles. Let me just say, if I'm ever having a bad day, if you take me into a soap shop, I will be down right happy. Soaps are some of my favorite things, bar none. The way they smell, the way they look, how smooth they are, how they line up in a row and fit together so perfectly, and my absolute favorite is the sound they make when you tap them against each other. One brick of soap against another brick of soap. Done. There's a smile on my face. So naturally I enjoyed the market. After we made it all the way through the market, we walked around some of the smaller streets to see the off-the-beaten-path stores and then went down to the water to spend some time sitting on the beach. It was absolutely gorgeous. I really do understand why people love it so much there. After we had sat there for about 20 minutes or so, a storm started to roll in over the water so we had to head for cover. The rest of the day was spent walking around, shopping and grabbing lunch/snack before taking a bus back to the airport.

Nice Flower Market


found a Christmas  tree outside of a shop

on the beach

the storm rolling in

the giant bows, my favorite of the many Christmas decorations in Nice

As many of you know, I love Christmas and all that goes with it, so being away from home during this season is not entirely fun for me. Particularly, I really love the first couple days after Thanksgiving and decorating the house for the Christmas season. It's pretty much the culmination of everything I love. To help assuage my absence, my Mom sent me a picture of my Dad and Mary Catherine on the roof putting the Christmas wreaths and lights up. Plus there's that little furry one down in the bottom of the picture. Not to mention we get onto the roof by climbing out of that window you can see in the picture, which also just so happens to be my bedroom window.

Dad, MC and Delilah

With only two weeks of classes left, I have a fair amount of work on my plate right now, but we have one final trip scheduled for next weekend and lots of fun stuff planned to close out our sweet time here in Rome. The fun isn't over yet!


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