Friday, July 16, 2010

And away we go part deux

More quickly then I expected, it was time to leave the Costa Brava and head to the French Riviera or as the French call it, the Côte d'Azur.  But not before one little travel hiccup...

I was supposed to take a bus from Figueres to Montpellier, but when I showed up at the bus station for my 2:45 bus and noticed that the bus company's office was closed I was a little confused.  I went to the information desk for help and that's when I was told that the company I booked through would reopen their office at 4pm and also, that my bus ticket was for a bus that departed already (at 2:45 AM).  I felt like a stupid American or a stupid girl or just plain stupid.  I should have known better because I've been living on a 24 hour clock for the better part of 3 months now, but for some reason it just didn't register in my brain- who takes buses at 3 o'clock in the morning anyways?!? 

Once the bus company ticket window opened I tried to exchange my ticket to no avail and found out there wouldn't be another bus to my destination until a day and a half later.  At that point I need to take control of the situation and find an alternative transportation option, so I went to the nearest internet cafe and did some research.  I quickly found out there was actually a train leaving for my destination shortly, so I made my way to the train station and, after a few delays and 55 Euros lighter, I was finally on my way!

While in the south of France I stayed in Nice and really enjoyed my time there.  Nice is nicknamed Nice la Belle- Nice the beautiful.  It is such a lovely city and even more beautiful when the setting sun baths the town in its glorious glow at the magic hour right before sunset.  The whole town is a pretty palette of sun drenched pastels, especially oranges and yellows, and it feels very Italian.  The beaches here, like in Cadaques, are made up of stones but not too uncomfortable.  One of my favorite things in Nice was the Cours Saleya Flower Market, a long and sunny plaza full of ripe produce, sidewalk cafés, souvenir shops and, yes, flowers too.  I visited the market both mornings I was in town, one day for cherries and bread to take to the beach and the other to look for buried treasure at the flea/antiques market which is only held on Mondays.

One of my favorite meals in Nice was at a sweet little cafe I stumbled upon after leaving the market one day.  Cafe Marche (or market cafe) where I had a pancetta and parmesan sandwich with salad and for dessert the most divine affogato this side of Italy (Ben & Jerry's ice cream drowned in espresso with whipped cream, sprinkles and chocolate syrup- my kinda sundae!).  I sat at one of the outdoor tables in a quiet side street/alleyway and just relaxed soaking the city in and people watching.  It also didn't hurt that I had the cutest and most friendly waiter (who I'm blaming for the yummy sprinkles on my affogato).  The picture above is of the cafe and the picture below is of the most famous ice cream shop in Nice.  Fenocchio has over 70 flavors!  I only tried 3 or 4 but they were delicious!!!  My favorite?  The Rocher chocolate flavor, it really tasted like the famous chocolates melted down in ice cream form (it even had the chopped hazelnuts!).  Yumm...

The weirdest thing happened to me on my last afternoon in Nice.  I had gone back to my hotel to relax and use the internet before heading to the airport.  I sat out in the back garden and after a little while decided I wanted a drink, so I went inside to order and when I went to pay (with the only cash I had left) the women at the reception desk said my money was no good.  What?!?  I had a 50 Euro bill and this particular bill was one that I had gotten out of an atm so there was no way it was fake.  She tried to explain to me that the paper was wrong, too thick or too thin, I can't remember exactly and even had her coworker come over to verify.  I was frustrated and upset and not sure what to do.  I needed change to take the bus to the airport and I tried telling this to the woman.  I also told her that I had gotten this money from the bank.  She offered to put my drink on a credit card and I said no thank you since now I didn't really have time to relax and have a drink- I had to deal with this unfortunate situation.

Finally she suggested I go to the grocery store around the corner to try to break the bill, something about them not paying attention to details as much there.  What?!?  I tried telling her that I didn't want to pass along my problem to someone else, which she sort of took as my apology to her and said it was ok and that she didn't think I was trying to give her a bad bill knowingly.  Ugh!  I gave up reasoning with her and went to try my luck at the grocery store, all the while thinking how embarrassing it would be if they told me the same thing the hotel did, except they didn't.  They took the bill and all was well.  I still think there was something fishy going on with my hotel reception desk.

After that whole ordeal at my hotel I was ready to head to the airport.  When I got there, with some time to spare, I checked in and was told that my flight would be 3 hours late.  They gave me a couple of vouchers for food (pringles and an orangina basically) and I settled in for a long night.  We didn't end up leaving until 4 hours after our original departure time and I got into Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris at around 3:30 am.  I was so happy for this madcap adventure to be over and to be back in Paris and asleep in bed by the time the sun was rising that morning.  What a trip!


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