11.05.2015 - 12.05.2015 28 °C
The interesting thing about coach travel in Europe is the amount of time spent on the coach. Yes, it does take time to get for point A to point B. However on this Med. Highlights trip we are fortunate to have two days in most cities and no more than 3-4 hours on the coach each day. Compared to 8 hours days on the coach with last year's trip this has been easy for coach travel.
This doesn't mean we haven't been busy. Travelling out of Italy and into France yesterday required a shift in iur greetings, thank yous, etc. yes, we are more at home with French yet we still found ourselves saying 'si', grazi'. Thankfully the French are patient.
One of the things on the bus that we do to pass the time is to learn about the next country. So yesterday we had our French lessons. This included some history, geography and some little known facts. For instance, it is illegal to name a pig Napolean, swimming shorts (North America style) are banned at French swimming pools (only European Speedos please) and it is legal to marry your betrothed if they die before the wedding. Seemingly this is so the living spouse can gain benefits. The French also have the world's highest paid vacations, topping out at around 8 weeks. No wonder tourism is strong in France.
Arriving is Nice was like hitting the sunshine and great weather head on. Palm trees and flowers everywhere. The deep blue of the Med water is just a few blocks from our hotel. We had a free afternoon to explore before our group dinner. The group had to stop at this fountain for a photo. Everywhere you look in. Nice is an architectural masterpiece.
A whole free day awaited the group today. Activties included sitting on the beach or rather on the rented beach chairs as the Med beaches are more rocky than sandy. Some went parasailing, shopping and generally hanging out in this picturesque beach city.
Tonight we got dressed in our best clothes and headed to Monaco, the second smallest country in the world. Also one of the richest with almost 30% of the population being millionaires. Along the way we stopped at a scenic lookout and our tour manager, Emma and our driver p, Firo treated us to some champagne. How sweet of them.
The city is setting up for the upcoming Grand Prix race so it was fun to see that and it will be fun to watch it at the end of May. After a quick visit to the front of the palace and the church we had a great 4 course dinner. Then it was off to the Monte Carlo Casino. 10€ will get you in the first two rooms. Gambling was extra. It only cost a cool 5000€ to get any further into the casino. A few tried the James Bond Martinis and some went to a slighter less upscale casino to try their luck. they even had an unexpected fireworks show in the harbor. What a surprise. The group got to check out some of the hot cars parked in the Fairmont Hotel Parking lot, located right at the most famoms hairpin turn.. They certainly love their cars.
Off to Avignon tomorrow then on the Spain. Stay tuned for more.