me at the Acropolis
So I spent a little bit of time in Villefranche (where we are anchored) over the past couple days, but yesterday was my day to explore. Our two shipmates left that morning, so I was up pretty early, but the others weren’t so I waited around and only got to shore at about 11:30 or so. I went to the bus stop and encountered large groups of elderly British tourists from the cruise ship that was in and waited for the bus with a few of the more intrepid ones that were going to Monaco also. This one guy was standing looking for the bus, and every time one would appear down the street he would shout at full volume for his wife, who was shopping nearby.
She would run over, and we would all watch as the bus sped by. This happened about five times, before the right bus actually came. It was really crowded, I had to stand the whole time, but mostly because I was the only one it appeared that was going to give up my seat to some older people that got on. The half hour-ish ride was beautiful, snaking along the coast past little cliffside villages. Our arrival in Monaco was only marked by a small sign, but instead of cute little villas the buildings turned to elaborately designed large office buildings and fancy stores. I waited for the couple I had seen at the bus stop to get off because I had overheard that they had been there before so I figured they would know where to go.
Except that it started raining the second I got of the bus, and I had my laptop sticking out of my purse, so I ducked into the nearest building, which happened to be Zara! One of my favorite stores… so I did a little shopping and put the plastic bag my purchases came in around my computer for the rest of the day. Next I walked to the casino, and when I saw walk I mean shuffled at a very slow pace. All the sidewalks are this beautiful sort of stone tile material, but when they get wet they are verrrry slippery and I almost wiped out about eight times in my flip flops. I walked around the inside of the casino for a bit, not where you actually gamble because you had to pay to get in, but the foyer area where they had displays set up. They had these larger than life, and I mean large, illuminated photographs of all the important Monaco people dressed in ridiculous outfits and in weird poses in front of important buildings.
They had a few huge pictures of the King that were so big and so zoomed in that you could see each individual hair sticking out of his chin where he missed shaving. Too bad I couldn’t take pictures, it was something else. I walked around for a bit some more but it was getting late and I was getting hungry so I got back on the bus and got off in Nice proper. I didn’t know where I was supposed to get off so I just guessed, but I think I guessed wrong because there didn’t seem to be anything interesting nearby. So I just started walking, looking for somewhere cheap to eat. All the little cafes seemed to be closed though, but then I saw the golden beacon of hope, not McDonald’s (although there was one there), but the Carrefour sign.
sunset at sea
So I walked there, which turned out to be the mall, and I started looking for food. There were all sorts of little cheap places, which was exciting, but I realized that I only had five euros in my wallet and I would need to go to the ATM. No problem, I figured, there are always a million ATMS everywhere. So I started looking… and looking. Fifteen minutes later, I was almost in tears. I just wanted a freaking ATM so I could pay for my lunch. It was now 3:30 and I hadn’t eaten yet that day. The mall was absolutely packed, and even finding someone to ask in the hordes was difficult. I tried asking the people at the lottery booth, but it was like a bad joke- every time I would see the line had emptied I’d walk up, only to have at least four other people converge out of nowhere at the same time with their lottery tickets.
arriving in Sicily
I finally found someone at a bank to ask, and when she finally understood what I was asking for I couldn’t understand the litany of French directions she spewed at me. So I was back to where I started. Finally, in a fit of frustration and hunger, I went to the little café I first passed and asked if they took credit cards. They did, and I charged my grilled cheese and fries and all was well. I walked around the mall for a few minutes but had to get back to the boat, so I got on the bus again and met Mike on the dock where the dinghy picked us up. It was a really nice day of exploring. I spent the rest of the night onboard relaxing while the guys went out for the night, and finally watched the special features on the Grey’s Anatomy DVD that I’d been meaning to for so long.
the Vatican City
On a side note, there are dogs everywhere here, and I mean everywhere. Like there were dogs in the mall, in the grocery store, at the restaurants. Like it's normal to bring your dog shopping with you. Mostly they are little, but there are a few really nice big ones, including an old one that I passed a couple times and sat down with to pet that was absolutely the nicest.