Saturday, June 27, 2009

not your usual travel journal - PART 3


Part 1

Part 2

The Musee Rodin

The next three days in Paris was a dizzying succession of museums after restaurants after obscure street names. We were thrown in what seemed like a nonspatial confusion of buses that didn't arrive on time and signs that didn't make sense. Within 48 hours, though, we got the hang of it. Finding places became much easier.
We endured queues to practically every touristy spot you can think of. We also got lost in the city's many narrow streets in search of Paris' "best baguette," and found ourselves lingering over hot chocolate in Le Cafe Pure. One afternoon, we somehow managed to get lost in the middle of the immigrant district, which resembled the local Divisoria.

"Best Baguette in Paris" Awardee

I didn't have time to write about everything, and the pictures - well, those I would really like to keep private, for MSP and I to enjoy. They remind us of chaos dotted by calm walks along the Seine river at 10pm - an experience that's only ours. No matter how disappointing the city, we would always have Paris :)
The next entries were written using this Asus EEE laptop (which is my travel laptop) usually as they happen, or a few hours after.

* * * *

May 25, 2009

On the way to Nice, Canne, and Monaco”

4:00 pm

I'm on a train to Nice from Paris. It will be a six-hour ride. Jonas is sleeping, as always. I thought the train would be romantic, but it's not. The coffee cart is closed. People aren't that beautiful. Balding men, crying babies. I'm so bored.

The Gare Lyon station, where we took our train from Paris to Nice

Paris was underwhelming. It felt a bit contrived, like sentences rewritten to sound better. Champs-Elysees was polished to perfection, but the rest of the city was swarmed with underpaid immigrants / vandalized walls / dingy subways. The native French and the unwelcome colored people walk around each other, never quite meeting. I don't have to understand French to know they despise each other.

It is a city of tourists; it is for people who want romance so bad, they can find it in this dirty city. If you are pragmatic, then nothing of Paris is charming. The Notre Dame, the Eiffel – every supposedly historical site has been turned into an amusement park ride, with mile-long queues and 8-euro entrance fees to complete the experience. France's national income must be 80% from gullible tourists, 18% from Louis Vuitton, and 2% from truffles.

We paid P500,000 to see this part of the world. So far, only the museums have been worth the trip. This is turning out to be a bad investment.

* * * *

View from the bullet train / French countryside

We're exactly halfway between Paris and Nice now, three hours from each city. Out the window there is a castle on a hill. It overlooks the little cabins for peasants, just a few kilometres from a suspicious-looking factory. Welcome to the French countryside.

* * * *

At almost 11:30pm - an hour later than our scheduled time of arrival - we are finally in Nice. Never trust the French train system. Something ALWAYS goes wrong. To save money, we decide to walk from the station to the hotel. The scale of the map makes it seem doable; it is only after 20 minutes of walking - heavy bags slung on our shoulders - that we realize we should have coughed up the 10 euros and taken the cab, or at least the tram. And then it just appears on the forked road - Hotel Harvey. There is a Quick outlet right in front of it, where we buy an unhealthy dinner of burgers and fries. We are too tired to eat out. Nice will have to wait until tomorrow. The hotel is a dump, but livable. It doesn't matter now.

* * * *

May 28, 2009

The South of France is a laid back version of Paris,where everything is cheaper and people are warmer. It's quite a kick just sitting out in our balcony and watching this little city tick. And with the beach literally steps away, MSP couldn't be happier.

One of the public beaches in Nice, France

We could almost smell Italy from here (the Italian border is just one hour away by train). On most days we just eat authentic Italian pastas and pizzas from the neighboring ristorantes. We also feast on authentic BRETON crepes and $6 bottles of wine, which were surprisingly very good.

On the jampacked local bus to Cannes two days ago, MSP and I didn't get to sit together. A half-French half-Tunisian guy ended up sitting next to me, and he wasted no time chatting me up. He told me about his home in Cannes, his wife, and his daughter. I told him about our European adventure and about the Philippines. We also talked about food. All of this we did even though he spoke no English, and I spoke no French. Thank you,

We got to Cannes a day after the Festival, so the festive mood was still palpable despite the lack of celebrity sightings. The drizzle didn't help. We wore raincoats throughout our walking trip.

The day after Cannes, we decided to hop on a bus to Monaco just to see the Palais Princier. Did you know that literally EVERYONE is Monaco is a millionaire? That's because even the smallest apartment here is worth at least 1 million Euros, and all Monegasques own their homes. That's the beauty of being born in the world's biggest tax haven. This hedonist city-state can make you feel poor.

View of Monaco from the Palace

Yacht club

In between, we basked in the Mediterranean sea, took strolls along Nice's quaint old-world streets, and enjoyed little treats (like real gelato).

Rose gelato

We managed to figure out how the tram works. Shopping was tempting and very high-end (there's a Chanel, Hermes, and Loewe near the beach), but we only stocked up on H&M and Longchamp - both of which are remarkably cheap here. Just practical stuff. (I have lost interest in shopping).

While MSP swam, I sat around, dipped my toes, read books.

* * * *

Tomorrow, we get on a train to Spain.

Espana, here we come :)



Blogger Retro Manila said...

I found myself smiling while reading this post. :)

You say you're next stop's Espana? Can't wait.

7:35 PM  
Blogger acey said...

lovely pics! and look at that gelato!

12:15 AM  
Blogger mussolini said...

retro> spain was the coolest:) especially barcelona.

acey> the gelato tasted so clean and light. and they make it into a "rose" talaga :)

4:52 PM  
Blogger mussolini said...

retro> spain was the coolest:) especially barcelona.

acey> the gelato tasted so clean and light. and they make it into a "rose" talaga :)

4:53 PM  
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