Monday, August 4, 2014

In the South of France Part II: Fancy boats and a Whole lotta nothin

Monday 2 June 2014
We enjoyed sitting this morning in the sun on the porch drinking coffee, reading, editing pictures, and working on trip stuff online, etc.

We walked down to the beach in the afternoon and spread a blanket on the hard stones. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as I might have guessed, but it was still unlike lying on sand. :P

The afternoon was spent reading and looking out to sea.

We returned to the apartment for dinner, happy with our lazy day.

Tuesday 3 June 2014
Today we decided to take the train over to Monaco. This small city-state is only about 20 minutes away by train. We first enjoyed our coffee on the sunny porch. After looking at pictures of my unruly hair...I let Preston cut some of it off :P By the time he was done and it was straight...I'd lost about 5 inches!! Preston really did a good job. After the hair cut, we walked up to the train station.

It took a minute to figure out the tickets, because the machines were only in French, but Preston managed it and we boarded for our quick train ride.

Glimpses of the sea from the train

It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day. Monaco was bustling with activity. Tall mountains spilled right into the sea, which is filled with extraordinary and sizable yachts.

It's possible I took the worst pictures ever in Monaco :P

Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, second only to Vatican City in square kilometers. It is the most densely populated sovereign state and is just over two miles long.

We walked down to the water and up the hill to the famous Monte Carlo casino. It’s quite obvious that there is a lot of wealth here…from the clothes, to the yachts, to the expensive cars.

The casino was grand and impressive, but cost 10 euro/pp to enter, so we just peeked in the door.

We walked around the casino grounds and down to the water to check out the yachts.

At a waterside restaurant, we had a glass of rose and shared a pizza. We walked around a bit more and took the train back to Nice.

We cooked dinner in again and spent the evening relaxing on the balcony.

Wednesday 4 June 2014
It was sunny and gorgeous again this morning while I had coffee on the porch, but it quickly clouded over towards the afternoon. The temperatures got quite cool.

We went for a walk and tried the beach again anyway. We read for a while on the rocks, but packed it up early due to the cool weather.

We decided to take a longer walk and so returned home to put on sneakers. We strolled through the town of Nice and enjoyed watching children play at a park. The park had fountains of water that would spray into the air at surprising intervals.

Not wanting to repeat our train station issues, we found an internet café (these are few and far between these days!!) to print our tickets for the next leg of our journey.

Tomorrow we head to another town in the South of France: La Grande Motte.

Thursday 5 June 2014-Monday 9 June 2014
We managed to get out of Nice with little trouble. After another journey of a few hours, we were in Montpellier.

Our train was nearly empty and everyone in our car was American. We collectively thought that this must have been done on purpose, since we’d all purchased our tickets online via the dreaded RailEurope. We chatted with an American women living in Monaco. She was sort of down on America, which we didn’t agree with, but did understand her frustrations. As much as I love forever outside of America is not something I could imagine.

When researching places to go in the South of France…there was the obvious choice of Nice or Cannes or both, but I wanted to get us closer to the Spanish border, since that’s where we are next headed.

Montpellier came up in a lot of my searches as a fun town. Preston and I were looking for some R&R in a seaside town, so I found La Grande Motte, which is just outside of Montpellier.

La Grande Motte is a meticulously planned seaside resort, which was built in the 60s and 70s. The buildings were built in a pyramid design to mimic the pre-Columbian pyramids of Teotihuacan – Mexico.

To reach La Grande Motte from Montpellier, we had to take a tram near the train station and then a bus from the tram station and then walk to the studio we had rented on Airbnb.

It was quite a journey, but we figured it out and navigated the whole thing quite well. It’s always a challenge to find your way around a new place where you don’t speak the language, but I’m happy to say that people are generally helpful and friendly. Even when you don’t speak the language…you can find your way.

The studio we rented on Airbnb was wonderful and bright. The space was bordered by windows that looked out over the beach and the water. The owner’s friends that greeted us were helpful and friendly. Again, we were given food for the morning since we arrived so late.

We splurged our first night on a highly recommended restaurant. The menu was in French, but the waiter kindly translated the ENTIRE thing for us in spoken English. 

I had an appetizer of melted camembert cheese with salad and it’s something I will NEVER forget. Amazing. The cheese would harden around the dipped salad pieces. I felt like I’d died and gone to Heaven.

For my main dish, I had fish, but Preston was brave and tried the local specialty... which was the throat of something. It was actually quite delicious.

I won’t bore everyone with the day to day details of La Grande Motte, since we mostly did nothing : )

We’ve spent our days sleeping in, enjoying coffee in the bright alcove, going to the sandy beach in the afternoon, returning for snacks of baguettes bought from the boulangerie downstairs with cheese; chips; fruit; and wine, reading, working online, taking long walks, and watching shows at night.

The beach here is a bit junky with loads of people (increasing every day), bars, and kiddie rides. The water is unremarkable with no waves.

Summer seems to have arrived while we were here. The beach got remarkably more crowded. 

Day 1

Day 3
In just a few days, the weather has gone from being lovely and warm to SO hot. By the end of our trip, we couldn’t spend more than an hour or two at the beach. The sand was just too hot and was like lying on hot coals.

We’ve had a lovely and relaxing time. Tomorrow we are up early to take the bus to the tram to the train to get to BARCELONA!!

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