Monday, January 30, 2012

A Very "Nice" Weekend

Pun intended!
This weekend, 4 friends and I braved a couple of night trains to visit Nice, in the South of France on the Cote d'Azur. Despite making numerous puns about have a "nice" time in "Nice," the city's name is actually pronounced "niece" (hence why my Dad keeps asking if I will also visit Nephew...).
Anyways, despite Nice's famous reputation of being always sunny and warm, we seemed to choose the only weekend that it was chilly and rainy to visit! However, despite the fact that our feet were wet, our spirits were not dampened.
We began the weekend with a bit of an adventure... there was an accident on the rails somewhere between Le Mans and Paris, which meant that our train got re-routed North, causing a 30-40 minute delay. Considering we only had one hour to make it to another train station for our night train BEFORE the delay, this was not good news for us. So we took some advice and before our train got to Montparnasse in Paris, we made our way as far as we could to the front, so that we would be able to bolt off the train and not wade through so many people. Of course, we all had huge backpacks, so this resulted in numerous people getting accidentally whacked if they were too close to the aisle. Once the train arrived, we bolted off to find out how to get to Paris Austerlitz station. We were told that the bus was the fastest, so we made a run for the stop. One friend had her rolly suitcase named Timmy, which she managed to drag behind her while filming our hysterical run. We luckily made it on the bus and on our night train with 5 minutes to spare.
The faces of success!
We also got our own compartment, which was probably a good thing since we were pretty ridiculous.
After a horrible sleep, we arrived in (not so sunny) Nice! We found our sweet hostel and went on an adventure to explore the city. We walked along the beach and through Vieux Nice, which was lovely.
The beach

Fountain in the old city

My friends in Vieux Nice
We also took a little hike up to the top of the city, where a chateau once stood. It gave us some incredible views.
A beautiful, but very compact, city

Cote d'Azur

Attempting a group shot

the harbour
After a long day of walking, we made our way back to our hostel for some food, thanks to the kitchen that we could use! We ended up hanging out there for a while and met some awesome people for many different places: the States, the Yukon, Mexico, Spain, and France. My friends went out with them later, but I stayed in because I unfortunately came down with a cold.
After another night of little sleep, I dragged myself out of bed the next morning to go for a run (and I am glad I did, because it is way too nasty out here to run today!). I ran along the Promenade des Anglais, which follows the coastline. What a gorgeous view! There were a lot of other runners out too.
I could get used to running beside this...
After a slow morning, we all showered and prepped for a trip to the little principality of Monaco! They may have a small population, but they do not have small wallets... so much wealth! We saw a ridiculous amount of luxury cars and apartments. After drinking some ridiculously expensive hot beverages (a tea cost 7 euro!!!) we made our way to the famous (or infamous?) Monte Carlo Casino to try our luck with the millionaires (or rather, watch them bet ridiculous sums of money). We unfortunately could not take photos inside the casino, for security reasons, but we got a few exterior shots. It was definitely an interesting experience being in that casino. I played a couple of slot machines(and lost) and at the end put a 5 euro chip down on the roulette table just so that I could say I actually bet at the Monte Carlo. It really was ridiculous that amount of money that people just throw away though... one man bought 30 000 euro worth of chips, lost them all, and just kept buying more. We saw 500 euro bills being thrown around like monopoly money. We also were fortunate enough to take interest in this one man who was betting ridiculously high sums... he had a huge diamond ring and just kept playing so we decided to watch and see how he did. I guess he must have noticed because he bought us all champagne as a gift! So we got 60 euro glasses of champagne for free... from a millionaire... pretty legit. The inside of the casino was also beautiful and very elaborate, not tacky at all. But despite the fun that we had, it really made me think about how people who are so rich can just toss money down the drain when there is so much need in the world...
Michelle and I with the casino in the background

the Monte Carlo

at the cafe!

Casino + fine cars!

My new car.

Monte Carlo by night
After our long day, we headed back to the hostel and found our new friends again plus some new arrivals. We joined in their game of charades in the evening and then I turned in early because of my cold.
Sunday we took it slow in the morning again but then saw some beautiful sights in the afternoon. It was rainy, so we decided to take the Monaco bus again, since it was only 1 euro and drove along the coast. We got off at the Ville Franche and did a little hike and took in the amazing views before hopping back on the bus and continuing to enjoy the view.
Future home?

So beautiful!
After a fun-filled weekend, with many hilarious moments and one-liners, we left Nice and headed back to Nantes. We were greeted with snow between Paris and Angers and some chilly rain here. It is supposed to be a cold week so we will all be getting our mittens and toques out!
I hope everyone had a great weekend and if you are still reading... kudos to you, this was a long one!

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