Day 9/10 - It's Been Nice, Nice
Day 9 - Nice to Meet You
Haha! I know, I can hear you all groaning now...
Some days I still can't get over that I'm here....seeing the sights that I've only heard about, seen in movies or learned about at school! Yesterday we got up at the crack of dawn to get our butts to Nice...we had to catch a Eurostar train early early as it was a long ride, about five hours from Paris to Nice. Travelling by train has its minuses and plusses if you're going in a tour...by bus you don't have to touch your luggage...by train, depending on where, you may have to drag your bags a bit and not gonna lie, my bag is kinda heavy. I tried to pack as light as possible but still, bitch still weighs a ton at about 40 pounds. Now a lot of that is stuff that will lighten up as the trip goes and I use things up, and luckily so far I haven't bought much. In fact hardly anything at all! I'm not much of a knickknack kinda girl (in fact I hate that knickknacks) and we really haven't had much time to shop which is fine by me. While i would have loved to do some shopping, we haven't has much time between seeing sights and travel time.
Anyways, train ride to Nice was uneventful but lovely. As we got off, we were supposed to go to Monte Carlo in Monaco for some gambling, but because the Monaco Grand Prix was one, it was closed to the public. We went up to the castle where Prince Albert lives, did a little poking about some shops and then went on to have dinner on the coast in a little seaside restaurant. Now a hint to the wise...the food on these tours is not great...food is OK and not awful, but you're not going to get a gourmet experience as they have to appeal to a lot of different tastes and most people aren't insane foodies like we are. Luckily there's a couple of gals on the tour who are younger and foodies like us so we've been comparing notes! Case in point...first night we had a traditional pub meal which was fish and chips or bangers and mash. I chose the bangers and they were awful! But I choked it down as I was starving so even cold sausages with gravy from a package tasted OK.
After dinner we were bussed over to the next little town called Juan Les Pins...because of the Grand Prix, we got moved to the next town as Nice was overtaken with people seeing the Cannes Film festival as well as the race. They promised us a five star hotel to make up for it and so far so good...the nicest hotel so far.
Day 10 - Once in a Lifetime
Another early morning...will be so glad to get a chance to sleep in past 6 one day! Today we headed to Monaco to see the qualifying portion of the Monaco Grand Prix...Hubs is a huge fan particularly back in the Senna days, and the clinching factor of us booking this tour was that we would be in Nice (or so we thought) when the race was on. We got up early so we could catch the train to Monaco from Juan Les Pins...now I was feeling a bit stressed about taking the train because 1) I don't speak French, if we get lost 2) Juan Les Pins is quite a bit farther away from Monaco than Nice 3) I have no idea how the trains work....those of you who know me, know I don't like to not have a plan. The station was quiet so we were able to get with a few other people (foreshadowing alert!!) and noticed another couple who were also going to the race. Thankful to see we were on the right train, I relaxed. When we got to the race, people were already ready to go and the thump of very loud Europop pumped through the streets...untsa untsa untsa.
As we got to our seats, I sat down and again had that "I cannot believe sitting here" feeling...I've watched this race on TV often, but to experience it live? As I sat and took in my surroundings, I felt so grateful to be so lucky to go on this trip. We had awesome seats just where the cars enter the pitlane so we could really see them close up and even got to see some drivers including the legendary Niki Lauda, who's true story was what the movie Rush was based on ( and where Chris Hemsworth played his rival James Hunt (hubba hubba). Vettel, Raikonnen, Massa, Button and a few others walked towards the paddocks and waved at us...pretty cool! Rich European men driving very fast cars (so in others NOT Nascar...cue the banjos please), what's not to like?! Anyways, from our seats we were about 30 feet from the cars, so close enough to see their controls panels and smell the burning rubber from their tires. The best moment though? The favourite to win pole position was Lewis Hamilton and win he did...after the qualifying was done, a car came right in front of us and we got some amazing shots as he stood up and looked out of the top of the van and gave everyone in our section a thumbs up! Wow.
After the qualifying, throngs of people all rushed the train to get back to the outlying areas, mostly Nice. Now getting to the race was fairly easy, but I wasn't really sure how to get back as there are multiple lines running through that station and the trains have no names or numbers or signs...you just magically know somehow. I went over to ask a train guide who was helping to direct and I guess she didn't speak English and pretty much rudely turned away from me when I asked her to confirm that all trains on Platform C went to Juan Les Pins! I was pissed...and then I heard another person ask if we were also going to Juan Les Pins...I turned to look and it was the couple from the station this morning! She was french but spoke English, so said for us to go with her and her husband and she would get us back home as she at least spoke the language, but she wasn't sure how to get there either. Now this is such a coincidence, I still can't get over it...of the thousands of people at that race, we both just happened to ask the same bitchy train guide for help? Grateful for some help, we glommed onto her and had a lovely chat with them on the way home and found out their names were Delphi and TJ. I thanked them profusely as we got off the train and said we'd likely still be stuck in Monaco if we hadn't bumped into them. I'm thinking that maybe this is a little karma coming back my way...the past few months, I've had situation after situation where I've had to jump in and help
someone...two dogs that got away, a little boy who was wandering the streets alone and walking out on the road (argh), a lady who had crippling back pain while out walking so Hubs and I ran to our car as we were on a run and took her home and a lost Japanese boy who I drove home because he had just landed in Canada the day before. Anyways, if this isn't karma, I don't know what is.
Thankfully, an early night! We're heading to Venice tomorrow so we're up and it at early for a five hour bus ride. Italy, here comes Cindy!