Friday, July 27, 2007

Mmm French Riviera... (pt 2)

Exotic Garden in Eze
Originally uploaded by cornasdf
We woke tooo early the next day and set out to explore Menton. Looking for breakfast we wandered down to the café from the day before, La Cigalle. They had fantastic almond croissant, everything was pretty good at this place.

After breakfast we walked down to the beach and I tried to get a little sun in an attempt to cure some honkeytude. The beach didn’t seem nearly as rough. Eventually we found some random sculpture garden in an open park. After wandering through the sculptures, we headed to find a post office and then to the tourist info bureau. With no particular next destination, we decided to head to the exotica gardens which were next to the palace of PAIN, who wouldn’t want to go to a place called the palace of pain? OK, I guess I am thinking in the wrong language.

Our path to the palace of pain took us through a pedestrian shopping area. One nice thing about it was that there were no international chain stores that I recognized. Many of the shopping areas in these cities (Vienna, most recently) all look the same. Same stores, same chains that you would see on 5th ave or Broadway.

Given the Jones luck, when we got to the gardens, it was closed for lunch. Doh! Ahh well, nothing to do, we walked back through town taking the high route which afforded some great views. We made our way back to the pedestrian area for some lunch before packing up and leaving Menton.

Next up was Eze, but before we get there, a quick product placement. My latest cannot live without app is gmaps with a GPS tie in. mmmm great toys. Built into my phone (BB8800) the new gmaps takes advantage of the phones GPS (which the last version didn’t). This let me say, take me to eze, and actually get there. I really like that I can pull up a satellite image of exactly where I am at any point. Just need to get it to real time now. B)

Anyway, Eze. Eze is a fortress castle on the top of a hill. It was actually very cool. You can just imagine living there, hundreds of years ago in a completely different world. At the very top of the fortress was an exotic garden with some more great statues. Another captivating view of the rocky countryside and the Mediterranean sea. Apparently there is a walk from the fortress down to the see called Nietze’s walk (as he used to walk it often). We started down the path a bit just to see what it was before heading out. Inside the fortress is a very expensive hotel. I don’t really play cars anymore but even I couldn’t help noticing the valet area with the Porche next to the Ferrari next to the Lamborghini behind the Bently.

As it got late, we packed back into the car and headed to Villefranche. After checking into our home for the next few days we wandered through the old town and eventually found a restaurant on the beach. As in, the tables were in the sand. Sweet. As the sun went down the bay lit up with the reflection from town. Double sweet.

Next morning we headed to Nice to drop of the car at the airport and then wandered through Nice for a couple of hours. I got some more sun and Anne took pictures ‘for Bobby’ to prove we had actually been to a topless beach in the Riviera.

After lunch in Nice, we headed to Monte Carlo for the afternoon. Heh, I like the sound of that. Anyway, Monte Carlo was nice. We tried to hit the casino but they wanted some 10 euro. Basically to keep wanderers like us out, I would guess. The casino itself was extremely gaudy. I generally like buildings with lots of decorations and statues and what not but this thing was ridiculous.

After wandering through Monte Carlo for a while we came across some horse show or something down by the piers. (I did notice all the boats are registered in the Grand Caymans. There is a whole other world of that kind of money out there.)

We caught a bus back to Villefranche and I ran out of steam. I passed out cold for the trip. I made it out for dinner but then I was done, I headed back to the hotel while Pop and Anne explored some more.

We got up the next day for our last day in the Riviera, so sad. We assembled a picnic from the local markets and had a picnic on the hotel terrace. (With olives falling off the trees all around us.)

The big attraction in Villefranche is the citadel. This structure holds true to its name. An imposing structure with tall walls and a heavy gate, I would hate to have to storm the citadel. Inside were a couple of interesting artist showrooms. Reminiscent of the Eze castle, with the small cubby-like little rooms.

Eventually, it was time to go. I judged the time a bit wrong and ended up getting to the airport but it was a good thing I did. I knew I might be in trouble when the entire top screen of departures were either cancelled or delayed. Not a good sign. There were 3 flights going back to London that night from my terminal. My flight, the stansted flight, was the first one but the Luton flight got a gate first, then the Gatwick flight got a gate. Still no gate for Stansted. I went and asked just in time. Apparently there is an easyjet policy to only allow 2 transfers per flight. When I got to the Luton gate and asked they told me that my flight was already 2 hours delayed. I and one other guy managed to get on the Luton flight (The other guy that made it on the flight mentioned that he lived in London and had a weekend house in Nice, nice.) The annoying thing about the EasyJet policy was that there were empty seats on the plane to Luton. My original flight was eventually cancelled and many people were still stranded there the next day when Pop and Anne came through. I guess they have some excuse as that was the day somebody drove a flaming jeep into the Glasgow airport. IN any case, I finally made it back to the wrong airport way after the last train.

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