I was recently made fun of for saying this, but to quickly recap, "I loved Nice! Except... Not the city nightlife (boring), not the French authorities, or the exorbitant prices. But I loved it."
Explaining my 3 qualms is as follows... Let's remember I had just come from Spain. It is not that Nice has NO bars or nightlife, it just is incomparable. No real clubs, only small bars, and the drinks were poured with precise shot measurements but still charged the same 9€. That starts my issue with the prices.
The South of France is clearly meant for old rich people and 22 year old Russian mail order brides. I had the pleasure to meet one of these fine ladies at my hostel. Her name was Svetlana...really. Anywho, my favorite example of outrageous charges is from my favorite beach that I visited. It was in Cap d'Ail--Mala Plaga. Now this beach has caves of wonder and cliffs for climbing and jumping and some of the best water and small stoned beach I've ever seen. Better, it is only accessible by a 25 minute walk on cliffside up and down a plethora of stairs. Sounds terrible, but is quite beautiful and remote. So once there you have been tricked into staying since the relaxation and beauty makes you too lazy to walk back into 'town' to find something moderately less expensive. Since we arrived around 12 and didn't leave until 7 we had to choose to dine at one of the two chic beach restaurants. We picked the cool beach jazz club with live music. Here is an example of prices from our 9 person entourage. A steak that two of the boys split was 70€ (I was lucky enough to score some). Being a cheap wise traveller I opted for the cheapest meal AND split it, a burger coming in at a cool 20€. But the atmosphere of that place was unlike any other, I've never felt more relaxed, all that was missing was some progressive house music for an even beachier vibe. But, like I said, we had live jazz. At one point we noticed we were all familiar with the words and were singing along somehow, even though the melody was foreign. It took a moment to place the hit song... Think slow jazz melodies with these lyrics "how could I forget I had given her an extra key, all this time she was standing there she never took her eyes off me." Yes, that would be Shaggy's "Wasn't me." Clearly you had to be there. It was phenomenal and quite hilarious.
The only other real problem was really my own fault for succumbing to peer pressure. I was traveling one day with two girls I had just met to discover the city. The tram rolls up and I run to purchase a ticket while they boarded. The train clearly was not going to wait for me. They had the only map. I was deciding between taking public transit without paying for the first time in my life and not getting lost, or being a good moral person. That's right, I picked the dumb idea. The girls even told me "it's ok, just do it once, we do it all the time and nothing bad ever happens" well it just so happens that luck is not on my side, bc the next stop three French Ticket Checker nerds get on and beeline it for us. Clearly tourists, we are. Thankfully I had an old validated ticket in my bag so they let me off with only a 32€ fine where the other girls had to pay 43€ for never even buying a ticket. One of the girls thought it was only fair if we all split the difference (aka me give them money) I politely refused. Having lost my drinking money for the week was quite a misstep but I learned my lesson... And this is precisely why I have never fallen to other more serious peer pressures in my life. I am just not lucky enough to get away with anything. Ever. (or I'm secretly a moral righteous individual... You be the judge)
To note: although I was well aware you needed a ticket to be on board, the whole validating it while onboard otherwise suffering the larger fine was a total tourist trap. It is written no where in English, and excuse me France, but last I checked, if you want tourists to obey your rules usually the rules are translated somewhere, at least into English, if not a cartoon or picture diagram. Poo poo on you France.
Other memorable moments:
-Patrick (friend of my dear Finnish friend Kari) came to visit for the weekend at the great Villa. I am proud to say, in three days of knowing him, we became very brother/sisterly. I only yelled at him once, lost him for 2 hours, and hated him for 4 hours. Not so bad! But really, he is a great individual, who has quite a rare ability to become very opinionated and condescending to complete strangers while intoxicated off of fisherman's friend and vodka. True Finn he is. Unfortunately though he was not the luckiest and was prey to some magical hands of the pickpockets and lost the entire contents of his wallet (which started the yelling, losing and hating the next day). Being the generous soul that I am, I lent him some 115€, which I only really did bc I knew at least I could make Kari pay me when I got to Finland. Patrick was the butt (literally) of many jokes on the beach for his total lack of interest in anything sun associated or energy involving, and was often found slumbering the days away and up arguing with the least intelligent hobos at the hostel until 6am. But, thank you Patrick for a completely ridiculous time. Because of you, I am glad and only slightly embarrassed of my google search history. Oh the things I have learned.
-While waiting for Patrick to arrive the first day, Alwyn and I were snapping some great photo booth pics and messing around on my iPad, when somehow I remembered a great day on the beach in Barcelona. I quickly google searched the event with the Peasman (refer to other blog) and YES! Life mission complete: I am on YouTube. And the title of the video I am in, is the precise reason why I don't tan topless on the beach. Parental guidance is advised (I did not upload nor name this video): Asses and Boobs in great harmony with Peasman. Feel free to look it up. I am with my Canadian and German friends in the video for a good 45 seconds. Very confused as to where the video camera was. I never saw it. Sneaky.
-Monaco. This was a day trip that Patrick and I made, simply so that I could say I've been, look at the stands from Formula One the weekend prior, and try to marry price Albert and become the next Grace Kelly. I was not aware he had literally gotten married the day before I arrived. Talk about a let down. And if I ever return, I'm bringing a hot girl version on Patrick, because I'm convinced I could have scored a tour of some of the many mega-mansion yachts if only he weren't a boy. All I have to say about Monaco is this, one day I'll come back, on a yacht, with a chunk of change to spend at the Monte Carlo Casino. It will be a one day event, and then I'll be bored of Monaco, because there is nothing to do there. The end. (it is absolutely stunning though-still ONE day trip only...)
Thankfully for me, the South of France proved to be an amazing time. I stayed at an awesome hostel (Villa Saint Exupery) and made some amazing South African friends (next big trip to Africa?!). I had more cheese, fruit, bread and wine than I knew possible. And had some great laughs, whirlwind romances (just a quick marriage and divorce, nothing major), and no major sunburns, thank you SPF 30. I eill definietly return one day, but preferable when I'm older and have made some serious money... Or when I marry an old oil tycoon on a ventilator.
Bon Voyage France and Monaco, next stop Italy!