Giddy Up Europe

Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Vatican, Monaco, Spain...

Monday, August 08, 2005

Nice and Monaco, July 23 - 25

Passing through La Spezia and Pisa (didn't get to see the Leaning Tower), we took the train along the coast to Nice, in France. We got to Nice at around 4 pm, so Allison and I decided to take the TGV about 20 minutes to Monaco and stayed there for a couple hours. Monaco-Monte Carlo is a small sovereign region located in France that apparantly was never conquered. It's got the Prince's Palace and the Casino Monte Carlo, which is kind of amazing and you just want to stand outside and watch the valets park the ridiculous cars that come through. There was also some sort of international underwater breath-holding contest (at least that's the only conclusion we could come to) at the outdoor pool right along the marina.

Nice is really a vacation spot and there are a good number of tourists hitting the topless pebble beaches. Yes, there are tons of topless girls and no one really cares. You can parasail, go on banana boats and just generally beach it. There are a couple sites, but for those that hear there are more exciting things than laying around on the beach all day and eating out at night, don't listen to it. The beach is awesome.

Here's a shot of Monaco from the marina. In fact, this is the pool as they were setting up for the underwater thing. Apparantly it was fairly exciting as there were a decent amount of people watching. Right behind this shot there was a small fair going on with games and food (cotton candy and churros).

Here are some of the go karts that they had going on for the kids. There was also another track with things that looked like bumper cars. I guess they get them started young in Monaco, considering they have crazy racing there. If you look around town, the roads look like race tracks and hard turns have white and red rubber corners. There was also a Ferrari that you could get a personal tour of the city for 35 euros.

If you head up to the Prince's Palace, you get a nice view of the city and can view the Jardin Exotique or the Prince's rare car collection (which was closed because we got there late). If you want to head into the casinos, though, dress appropriately, because you won't be able to get in. Also, for the Casino Monte-Carlo, prepare to pay ten euros just to get past the lobby. Allison and I go to know the lobby pretty well before deciding not to shell out a ten spot.

The casino parking lot is pretty sweet, I have to say, and people stand across the street just watching the cars pull up. The valets just step in a drive random Ferrari's and Bentley's into the lot. Not too shabby. Right outside the main entrance, in this picture, there's a Ferrari, Porshe, Bentley, and Rolls-Royce chilling outside. Ridiculous.

I just so happened to have bought a Pinnocle deck (by mistake) for Europe, so all we could play was Euchre. However, it came in handy for Monaco because it has eight aces. That's right, eight aces. Money well spent.

So here's the beach in Nice, I believe I was at the Ruhl Plage (there are about a dozen beaches lining the coast). Go for a dip in the water to cool off every now and then because it's really hot and the water's so nice. Just take easy steps back on the pebbles. Your feet probably aren't used to it.

This is right above on the Promenade des Anglais, which runs along about half of the beaches, I think. I decided to walk down the entire length of the promenades, which took quite a while. But you can see beach volleyball courts, jeu de boule courts, and parasailers.

Here's looking the other way down the beach from the Promenade des Anglais. This time with me in it.

I watched about a half dozen pairs go parasailing because it was hilarious to watch these three beach boys haul in the tourists.

They played a ton of Jeu de Boule on the promenade and there was some sort of tournament going on while we were there. If you've never seen it, it's pretty amazing how accurate these guys are. It's basically a mix of shuffleboard and horseshoes and it's played on gravel. Oldtimers in Stuttgart also played it at the park outside the university.

These were the best mimes that I've seen in Europe. They're a good pair and work well together. The silver guy has a gun to try to entice you to pay more (fake of course) and they hold different poses really well. When you pay them, they pose with you. If not, they don't budge. One kid gave the bronze one a fake coin and the mime got pissed because he noticed immediately. Don't try to screw them!

These are the Germans that we met in our hostel in Nice. We hung out with them during the nights, having a beer or two, and they were pretty funny. That's Markus, Klaus, and Ben, I believe. Let me know if I spelled your names wrong, guys. I practiced my German a bit. Good times.

After leaving Nice, we went through Montpellier to Barcelona, so I decided to take a picture of a door sign. Poussez means 'push' in French, in case you didn't know. And in this case, I believe it's a silent z.

I'm about to leave for Piedrafita de Cebreiro in the north of Spain to do about 150 km of the Camino de Santiago with a girl I met here in Madrid, Sarah. It should take a week to hike from there to Santiago de Compostela along the pilgram's route, give or take, and I don't know if I'll have any internet access. The entire trail starts from Roncesvalles, France and takes over a month to complete by foot. You can also go by bicycle or on horseback, and I hear that there are even trails from the Netherlands. I probably will have little to no internet or phone access. I'm going to update a little since my bus isn't for another ten hours, but if it's the case that I can't get online, I'll see you in a week. Buen camino.


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