A Travellerspoint blog

Nice to Cannes to Avignon - Southern France

sunny 20 °C

Today we woke up early - around 5.30am to avoid the heavy traffic in Nice. Nice is a nice place to visit but not really to stay. However, It was an experience we will not forget. Neal and I recommend staying at Avignon or Cannes if you are ever coming this way. We drove to Cannes to see what the Film Festival was all about. We found out that this festival is by invitation only and no tickets were available for sale and that just last week a lot of famous actors were in town such as Leonard De Caprio, Nicole kidman and Brad Pitt. They told us the place was invaded by lots and lots of people from all over the world. Thank goodness we were not there last week. I really don't like big crowds.

We had breakfast at a small cafe not far from the film festival in Cannes and it was a scream. We took a photo of my order. We looked at the menu and they were offering an "American" breakfast. It said it had chips, ham, cheese, cream cheese, salad, eggs, orange juice and coffee. When it came out, Neal and I were laughing, the chips were actual potato chips (dry plain potato chips straight from a packet!!!) Who has potato chips for breakfast??

We took photos of up and coming young actors. We took more photos of yachts surrounding the pretty city.

Then we headed off to Avignon. On the motorway we noticed "beware of deer" signs, not something we usually see in Australia and lots of mountains, lots of greenery, lots of vineyards and some fruit trees, cows and goats. The home styles seemed to change a little bit from Italy to France. In Italy the homes seem to be more square shape and in France the homes seem to have more shape to them. Both styles are beautiful. We also noticed from the motorway that both Italy and France have lots of castles spread out everywhere as well as lots of beautiful churches.

The motorway speed limit is 130km per hour.

Avignon is another lovely place. We found out that it is home to the Palace of the Pope. Tomorrow morning we go and visit inside the Palace of the Pope. Apparently this is where he used to live before going to Italy. From the outside it is amazing. There is a statue of Mary sitting way high up on the Palace which is painted gold. She really stands out.

The room we are staying at tonight in Avignon has a coffee machine in the bedroom. One of those insert capsule and push button ones. That is cool.

There are a few stations on TV that are in English, mainly British and American TV news such as BBC world news and CNN. There are some radio stations that play American/English music. There are some bookshops that sell some books in English but mainly this place is totally french, french, french.

Neal got a chance to taste black French beer. He enjoyed it very much. I don't drink much but the wines in Italy and France so far have been delicious.

Tomorrow we are off to Switzerland. We are about a 3 hour drive from the border.

Posted by ktime 13:58 Archived in France Comments (1)

Day out in Monte Carlo - Monaco

sunny 20 °C

Well, today we spent the day in Monte Carlo. What a beautiful place and yes full of Ferrari's and Porsches. As we were walking the streets we came across a motor mechanic garage that was full of Ferrari's that were being worked on. It was Ferrari heaven for me. Of course I had to have my picture taken against one, a red one of course. I will attach it soon. Finding time to upload pictures and videos is not easy when there is so much to do and see.

We managed to make it to the preparations around Monte Carlo for the Grand Prix (GP) Formula 1. Oh wow, lots of yachts and expensive boats, lots of security, lots of staff working on getting things together. We managed to see the engineers working on the Ferrari stand. We saw part of the track. We saw Mark Webber's engineers working as well in their stand. We saw all the other engineers working on other cars, all in their own stands. It was amazing. We spent most of the day there until security told us to leave.

We saw where Prince Rainer lives (only from the outside). It is a castle of course. His face can be seen on 2 Euro coins here.

We tried macarons and coffee. The macarons were gluten free. They were superb. I have never seen so many petite pastries and sweets in my life, most of them not gluten free (cry, cry) all beautiful. We walked and walked the streets of Monte Carlo soaking in the atmosphere.

Going into the supermarket was an experience for me. Neal sat this one out. I have never seen a supermarket so massive in my life. What struck out most was the size of this supermarket. It was selling everything from clothes to alcohol along with normal supermarket goods. Finding what I was after in the supermarket was yet another challenge. With a bit of english and describing what I wanted with my hands I managed to buy what I needed at the time.

We caught the bus to the train station and caught the train from Nice to Monte Carlo. It took about 20 minutes on the train as Monte Carlo is not far from Nice. The view was interesting as we saw lots of nice looking homes, two or three stories high usually on sides of mountains overlooking the ocean. The mediterranean coast was beautiful.

Overall, I would say that Nice is not so nice to visit and stay but Monte Carlo is spectacular.

I forgot to add, all the hotels we have stayed at to date also have towel warmers.

It is also not easy for Neal and I in a country where we cannot speak the language. It has been a challange but somehow we manage. Now I understand how my mum and dad must have felt when they first arrived from Italy to Australia in 1956.

Tomorrow we are off to Lyon via Cannes, about a 4 hour drive from Nice.

Posted by ktime 13:20 Archived in Monaco Comments (0)

Two night stay in Nice - Southern France

Southern France

sunny 20 °C

This morning we woke up refreshed ready for another day of adventures. With no plans of where we were going to stay we decided to stay two nights in Nice. This way we can take the bus or train to Monte Carlo. We are going to hopefully see Ferrari's and Lamborghini's, we are told that you can drive a Ferrari for a small charge. (Rose has really BIG smile on her face!). On the way to France we did notice a lot more Porsches than in Italy. The Monte Carlo F1 GP is on this weekend plus the Cannes Film Festival, so it will be a very busy time in the area right now. Not good timing for driving there.

We got a room with a view in Nice, the Mediterranean Sea - ooh la la, it is magnificent. I will post some pics soon.

We saw an unusual 3 wheeled Italian motorbike but not really classed as a motorbike in Europe called the Piaggio (MP3). Apparently you only need a car licence to ride this bike. Not your usual trike, single wheel at the back and 2 wheels at the front. I will post a pic or two for you to peruse.

http://www.youtube.com/channel/HC5d1agyshh1M

Nice, well what can I say. Lots and lots of people here, a very built up city along the coast with mountains at the back. Beautiful but very busy. Lots of shops and people everywhere. Lots of tourists. Not what we expected, appears to be France's version of Australia's Gold Coast, and the beach does not have sand as we know it. More rock than sand and definitely not white.

It appears there are not many road rules in Nice. Cars are parked every where even on the footpaths and you have to watch out for cyclists that are riding head on towards you, unbelievable.

Food once again has been excellent. Neal had grilled king prawns and Vegetables and me, Sea Bass and Vegetables - again the whole grilled fish, head and all was presented to me, head and all on the plate and then the waiter proceeded to fillet and debone the fish in front of me. This is the life!!!!!

We had our first bottle of French wine with the seafood. I don't normally like Chardonnay but this was absolutely delightful. The waiter recommended it for our dishes and he was spot on.

Posted by ktime 21:27 Archived in France Comments (0)

Driving on the "Right" side of the road

Monte Carlo here we come!!

14 °C

Today was an interesting experience for both Neal and I. We hired a Peugeot, hopped in it and just drove towards Monte Carlo direction, 5 hour drive from Ferrara. It was a scream watching Neal get used to driving on the "right" side of the road. He mistakenly kept clicking the wipers when he was supposed to hit the indicator. He even went to rest his arm on his right side thinking there was a window there. Going round the roundabouts was tricky and stressful at times. It was also funny as the radio stations were all in Italian however, some music they were playing was in english. Nearly all traffic signs are in Italian.

We noticed that the majority of the cars were mainly Peugeots, BMW, Citreons, Mercedes, Mini Cooper S, Volkswagon and Audis which makes a lot of sense of course. We also noticed prices of new cars are a lot cheaper in Italy than Australia. We have never seen so many trucks on the highway, literally convoys of trucks. They are limited to the slower lane of course and Otello told us that after 12pm Saturdays, they are not allowed on the highway. They are allowed to drive Monday to Saturday up to 12pm only. We noticed that vehicles from England had steering wheels on the right side of the car, just like Australia.

Otello told us there are at least 3 types of police in Italy. I remember the name of one Carabinieri (high-way police), Vigilli (local police) and the National police and all three have the power to arrest or give fines anywhere, anytime.

We saw the fast train that exists in Italy "flash" by our eyes.

After about one hour of driving we noticed that traffic became heavier and heavier and then came to a halt. One hour of waiting in the car was not pleasant in a stream of traffic. After surfing the net we found out there had been a horrible accident on the A1 super highway. This delayed our trip to Monte Carlo and so we stopped for an overnight stay at Savona, 1 hour from Nice. What a beautiful area in the mountains and right along the Mediterranean coast, nice and green and lots and lots of tunnels going through the mountains, one after the other.

We rented a room with a beach view at Savona. It was awesome. Comes with a bidet and all. I will take photos and post them. The places we have stayed at so far have no tea and coffee facilities like we do in Australia and they have snake eye small lights attached to walls and no irons with ironing boards. This one at Savona has a shower head in the ceiling. Most come with small blue or green lights which highlight the showers and this one also comes with a cool sink where there is a blue light where the water comes running out of the tap.

We have not seen any Lamborghini's or Ferrari's to date, but maybe we will at Monte Carlo. Here's hoping!!!!! (Rose has a BIG smile on her face)

Posted by ktime 22:40 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Relaxing in Ferrara with Otello

sunny 20 °C

Yesterday we spent most of the day with Otello walking the streets of Ferrara. He took us into this very old church and it was magnificent. I must say all the churches we have seen so far in Italy have been truly magnificent. I will be posting some photos soon.

We came across an old Monestery and Otello was explaining to us that these special nuns exist to this day that are not allowed to have any communication with the outside world. All they do all day is pray, eat and sleep. Only the head nun is allowed to communicate with the outside world. It is hard to believe that in todays world these nuns still exist. That is what I call dedication. He took us inside the church where they were behind a wall - the church was split into two rooms, the service was running in latin (not Italian) with a wall between them and us and we could hear them singing. Amazing.

Otello explained to us that in the medieval times they had built tall strong walls around each town to protect them from wars. These walls appear to be made out of bricks layered solidly right around the township. It is quite unbelievable to wonder how many men it took back then to build it and how long it would have taken them.

Otello took us to his beautiful apartment and we sampled some fine Italian liqueurs such as Chestnut liqueur, Lemoncello and Passion Nero (liquorice taste).
He took us to a "very cool" place in Ferrara to relax and bought us Italian Spritz's to try. I quite liked the bitter taste but Neal did not like it. This is a very common drink to have before dinner.

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Beverage/ItalianSpritz.htm

Otello took us to two great Gelato places where he got us to sample fine Italian ice-cream. Yum Yum. Neal once again only had vanilla (panna) from all of the possible flavours available.

He also took us to a fine Italian restaurant called Minelli at Pieve Di Cento which served us fine Italian food and catered for me too, I had gluten free ricotta and truffle tortellini, gluten free deli meats with gluten free bread rolls and gluten free profiterol for dessert. It was all very delicious.

By the way the hotel at Ferrara which was opposite the castle that we stayed at also served gluten free food for breakfast. It was called Hotel Annunziata. I highly recommend this Hotel. It is in a great location and what more can you want when you wake up and look out the window to see a famous castle.

It was our last day with Otello and now it was time for Otello to let us go out into the world and venture on our own. Gosh we were both feeling kind of scared but excited at the same time. It was time for Neal and I to spread our wings and let go of the apron strings so to speak. I was sad to say ciao to Otello as he was so generous with his time, he even had Stefano (work colleague) to assist us with hiring a car. We had a ball, we will treasure our time in Venice/Ferrara forever. Thank-you so much Otello!!

Posted by ktime 22:15 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

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