Feeling like I had seen as much of Nice as I really wanted, it was with relish that I disappeared off to Monaco for the day. Dustin was going to go as well so it made sense to go together and opted for the less stressful train over getting the bus. By all accounts (mainly Ceala), the bus is the nicer way to get there as you get to enjoy the scenery far more rather than heading through tunnels most of the way on the train. As it was, I was feeling a little impatient and the train was just an easy option.
Despite the feeling that we were missing several trains we could have caught, we hung around for one we knew was headed to Monaco (Monte Carlo), a mere hour’s wait at the station! We did get to see a good amount of the landscape as we headed along the coast and part of me just wished I could get out and enjoy these places as well, but I guess in a month, you can’t do everything! Maybe I’ll get to come back and do more of France one day, just take my time over the country. I guess I worry too much sometimes (how am I going to get there, where will I stay, can I find my way etc etc), which can really put me off just playing it by ear. For me it has its advantages as well, but there are definitely times I wish I could just be more of a free spirit!
Maybe we caught Monaco on a bad day, I’m really not sure. Perhaps it has to be super sunny here for you to see what makes it so special. I guess I just didn’t get why it attracts so many of the super rich! It struck me very quickly as being grey, very over crowded (both with people and traffic) and just rather uninspiring! Maybe I was expecting something else, expecting too much but overall impression was a let down.
Of course, there was some fun to be had, not least in our “cow” spotting! We were rather entertained as we made our way from the train station down to the marina by the “Safety Cow”, a model cow done up in a racing car and acquiring the said name. Now, there’s a connection here obviously with the grand prix, it was the other “cows” that we passed that day that made us gawp in bewilderment on occasion! There were arty cows, historical cows; political cows, emotional cows and many many more just doted around the place here and there. Wherever you walked, you just had no idea if a cow or 2 would crop up around the next corner. Welcome to MonaCOW I guess!
After several little detours (and many cows) we wound up in Monte Carlo and hunted down the famous Casino, for a little look round. Unfortunately it seems, the main casino like to charge €15 just for the privilege of entering, so we had a quick poke round the free to enter tourist trap with row upon row of annoying fruit machines and back out again, opting to take our loot to the somewhat less grande, yet rather impressive 2nd casino (I forget the actual name of this one) who allowed us on the main floor for absolutely nothing. Mind you at €25 the minimum bet at the blackjack tables was rather too high for the likes of me! Still €10 in a few machines disappeared pretty quickly and I could say I’d been gambling in Monte Carlo! Onwards and homewards!
Back at the hostel I got a rather unexpected text from Ceala and we arranged to meet up again tonight. I have to admit, I never expected to see her again but it’s a pretty nice surprise! She had also passed my details on to her friend Alexis in Prague who had already replied back to me saying she’d love to show me round. Sweet bonuses coming from all directions!
I met up with Ceala again at her place (eventually finding it after standing outside the wrong block for 5 minutes!) and she took me out and about to see a bit more of Nice. She took me in the Hotel Negresco foyer to show me around as you are apparently allowed in to do that. It seemed though that this very plush (and rather controversial – the name gives it away) hotel was having a plush do on and they quickly asked us to leave. From what I saw though, it really is quite an incredible place! I don’t think I’d be paying the astronomical sums of money needed to stay there but it was pretty cool to take a peak at how the other half live!
We ended up going for a drink/milkshake and just chatting away and seemed to get on pretty damn well! We had enough in common and enough differences to make the conversation easy and fun yet be able to have an intelligent chat! Being a baseball fan REALLY helps!!!!
We wound up back at her place and I got the feeling she was pretty nervous with all this but we did get pretty close that night! Her nervousness just put a slight dampener on things and it was clear we were going to remain close but nothing was going to happen that night! When her roommate came back any slim chance of me staying seemed to vanish and she walked me back to my hostel (which was very sweet of her!) at 2am. We hugged, exchanged details, I asked her up but already knew the answer and we went our separate ways. Maybe we’ll meet again sometime. Who knows! I tried carefully not to wake anyone on my return and set my alarm ready to catch my train to Venice in the morning.