Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monte Carlo

Busy day because we really need to get going up to grenoble and chamonix if we are to make it across to venice to meet andre and nicki on the 4th.

In spite of the wind and when it died down, the traffic noise, we actually didn't have a bad nights sleep. I am starting to wake up earlier and earlier which means that I am finally catching up on my sleep deficit which is about time, after all - it has only taken a month! We hummed and ha'd about what to do and eventually decided that the wind was too much and that the hostel in Nice which is a converted monastery would be a nice change of pace. Not only would it be windproof but we would be rubbing shoulders with the backpackers, a group we really haven't spent any time with at all.

We arrived and managed to get a twin room for 54EUR which is really basic, two beds and a shared bathroom with the room next door but when I thought of a monastery I sort of had stone walls in mind but this is just like an modern, at least relatively, apartment block.

One of the recommended attractions in Nice was the Matisse museum which we located quite readily but just couldn't find any parking and after about 45 minutes of driving around and around we parked in a parkade about 1km away. Driving in Nice has to be seen to be believed. I had a car stop in a right only lane in front of me, put on his hazards and just refused to budge. I felt like giving him a nudge to get him going but in the end went around him. My road rage incident is too fresh in my memory, I need a bit more time before I do anything rash like that. The drivers do things here like pull into traffic without looking at all, stopping at any time, driving across a lane of traffic so that it is forced to stop while waiting for a gap not to mention the way that they park! It's mayhem and not to mention how rude they are; they're constantly hooting at someone or other!

Well, after finally parking we got to the matisse museum which was enjoyable although I prefer his sculptures to his painting and with his paintings, I only really like the early ones. From the matisse museum we had a bit of a walk around a franciscan monks gardens before we high-tailed it to Monaco for a bit of fun.

On the way there we had to keep on stopping to have a look at the view; it's absolutely awesome!

This is Villefranche sur Mer between Nice and Montecarlo and I would like to suggest that some family member with 10 or 20 million rand knocking around with nothing to do with it, to 'invest' in a little holiday villa there! Seeing that we have already sold Laurel and Kim for the black yacht that Caron wants, we thought that perhaps we could sell Kirsten and Heidi for the villa that we would like .....

Carrying on from there we went past the village of Eze which runs a close second to Villefranche and the view from these houses must be too spectacular for words.

Arriving in Monte Carlo we had to go to the 'Grand' which looks like below and has the decor inside to suite. Caron had to have a go at the slot machines inside and we were very surprised when she actually won some money. Being better that most at mathematics we took our winnings and ran before the odds killed us. We actually had absolutely no idea what we were doing; we just kept pressing buttons and after one set of presses we got the winning jingle.

While we were walking around Monte Carlo we saw them building the barriers for the F1 which takes place in a few weeks time so I had to have a drive with the crash barriers on both sides of the road like an F1 powered ice-cream van. Great fun but I have a suspicion that I was going around the track the wrong way and at about 1/5th of the speed.

On the other side of the Grand, the sea side, there were numerous bronze statues. This is one of them and one of the appendages appears to have been polished; we thought it was very amusing.

And of course, we had to take a photo of the yachts in the harbour which was much smaller than I expected but pretty impressive none-the-less.

The drive back was just as beautiful as on the way to Monte Carlo and reminds me a lot of Cape Town with the houses, flats and villas clinging to the steep mountainside and narrow winding roads with too much traffic on them. This place must be a nightmare during the holiday season proper.

We finally got back to the hostel through all the traffic and decided to have supper at the hostel. 15EUR for two meals and wine, now that's what I call good value and on top of that the food was really good! We sat in the common room writing, reading and eating and watching the goings on of the common room before another hostel dweller who, like us, was obviously older than the general population sat down with us. She was english and was taking 2 weeks to do what we have done in two days. Ok, we have been a little more rushed than I would like but still; 2 weeks! I think I would die of boredom but then, I suppose it takes all sorts.

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