Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ah, the Mediterranean Sea, I never want to leave thee...

[I'm way behind on this one people and I apologize. It's been a crazy week since we got home but I won't bore you now. I'll save that for my next blog post! Anyway, corresponding photos from this trip can be seen by following this link.]

What a spectacular trip we had; quite reminiscent of our time in Hawaii last year only not quite as claustrophobic (not stuck on an Island in the middle of the Pacific, that is).

And for the most part, the trip went as planned and aside from my stomach not agreeing with some admittedly horrible [read: greasy] travel food, we hit no bumps along the way.

We got out of Metz at around 8pm and wound our way by Nancy, through the crazy long tunnel through the Vosges Mountains (again), by Basel (Switzerland), and eventually stopped around midnight at a tiny rest stop somewhere along the road in Switzerland. It was no where near as  nice as the highly commercial Aires that you find in France but it was well-lit and probably 4 other cars had chosen it as their bed for the night.

We followed suit. We made our beds and curled up for what ended up being not such a bad night after all.

We woke up and continued our beautiful drive through the Swiss Alps.

Michael hopped in the driver's seat for an hour or so to give me a break. But not long after switching places our gps went on the fritz, sending him down a very random dirt road. It got a little fishy so Michael (and his inexperience driving standard) handed the wheel back to me for the rest of this drive.

After a quick jaunt back into France we took a detour through Monte-Carlo, Monaco where we got this fleeting glimpse of the famous casino. We headed right back up the hill and out of the city though (no gambling for us!), I can't imagine having to find a parking space in that city!

That's 3 European Micro-Countries down though, leaving only San Marino and Vatican City.

We finally made it into Nice and after parking (in our nicely reserved and safe spot...thank you guest house) and showering (we needed it -- two people in an car without ac for 36 hours does not smell good) we made our way down the tram line only to walk past this guy on the street! This is the first Steelers jersey I've seen in Europe (besides my own) and it's needless to say that I was excited.

And this, this is where we spent most of our time in Nice: on the Promenade des Anglais (walk of the English) which is situated just above the beautiful stony beaches. We walked here for hours and barely covered any ground; the beach was certainly vast.

We also spent lots of time trying to avert our eyes from the many bare-breasted women and thong clad old men; more on that later though.

 We walked up to the top of this with the intention of visiting the gardens (on top of a hill?) only to find that they were closing?

So it seemed that we hiked up the many (many, many) stairs for naught...until we turned around to see this glorious sight.

 By this time (of course) we were getting hungry, so we found this crowd infested place

...where we ordered this delicious chèvre pizza (Mom -- mmm, goat cheese!)...

...which was eaten here.

We couldn't have hoped for a better first night in Nice.

And since it looked like everyone else was enjoying the sun and sand (I mean stones) so much that we would have to give it a try.

Here's a good example of what we witnessed every 10 ft or so. The second woman back (it is, indeed a woman) is actually wearing a one-piece black suit that she had artfully rolled into a tiny thong like apparatus in order to avoid the dreaded tan lines. At least she wasn't laying top-side up!

The water was chilly but certainly refreshing. And as Laura pointed out, crystal clear.

Clear enough to play around with the underwater function of our camera :-)

This has to be my favorite picture of the trip. This is the best example of the tiny thong phenomenon. He does have a thong on, it's just that tiny and is pulled down lower than it should be resting. Oh, and the two pairs of legs at the bottom of the shot, those belonged to two topless women that I have cropped out for your viewing safety.

And after venturing down this tiny Niçoise street in search of a delicious baguette for lunch, our time in Nice came to an end.

But our trip was far from over. From Nice we moved on to the beaches in Cannes, with sand. I decided here that I actually enjoyed laying (not walking) on the stone beaches in Nice more. There's nothing I hate more than sand in my swimsuit.

And from there we moved on to Aix-en-Provence, which was lovely but isn't along the coast, so no beach.

We spent a few minutes on the main drag in town listening to this fabulous band (Deluxe) and watching their

And viewing some interesting artwork (the theme of today's blog post is "The Topless Women of Southern France" if you haven't caught on by now).

And after asking around a bit we settled on this trip's splurge meal/M's belated Birthday meal at La Tomate Verte (the green tomato). It was amazing (see fb album for pics of each course).

We decided that we couldn't have planned our unplanned trip any better. Essentially, we wanted to get into Marseille but I had no intention of driving into that city (we have friends who lost everything when their car was broken into in Marseille). It ended up working out perfectly though because parking in Aix is free on Sundays, and there is a very cheap regional train connecting Aix to Marseille in just 45 minutes. After so much driving I was all to happy to hop on a train and let someone else worry about traffic and parking.

So on Sunday morning we made a quick stop at the Aix market for something for breakfast before hitting up the train to Marseille.

The entirety of the day was spent doing mini-walking tours of the city. We eventually (despite my incessant complaining of "my feet hurt", "my head hurts", "my legs hurt", "my stomach hurts") made it up that hill to see Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.

Along the way we saw many sights including this one of the shiny new port.

And the beautiful old port, which is too filled in with silt for commercial use so it's reserved for the lucky (and wealthy) sailboat and yacht owners of Marseille.

 We walked through a large environmental festival along the old port...

...where we saw some creative versions of our world (note Michael's eye in one of the tiny mirrors).

We watched the storm clouds roll in from the Porte de l'Orient

 And after much, much walking, we finally made it to the stairs leading up to Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.

This is my "I'm going to kill you for making me walk this much" face; lovely, isn't it?

But eventually we made it. Wait! What? More stairs?

We were rewarded greatly though by the spectacular view.

Our last day in Provence was spent going to a small village farmer's market (where we bought lunch provisions which will be seen later and lavender oil...mmm)...

...and visiting the Pont du Gard, one of the best Roman Ruins (although not really ruined) in Europe. Look it up on wikipedia if you're interested, it's incredible but this blog post is already too long.

We spent our time there eating our lunch of bread, Spanish oranges, summer rolls, and olives (all from the market)...

...taking in the spectacular sights...

...and taking a refreshing dip in the river before hopping back into Lunny (Lune Rousse's nickname) for the long and hot ride home.

Thankfully, the trip home was shorter than we expected (6 hours) which Michael was nice enough to drive the second half of on the nearly deserted late night autoroutes.

1 comment:

  1. I hate sand in my suit, too! Stony beaches sound nice to me!