Day 28 – St Paul de Vence to Paris

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Day 27 – Nice and the French Riviera

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Days 25 & 26 – St. Paul De Vence & Vence

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30 days of travel – Day 24 – Lyon to Nice

Today we leave Lyon and head down to the French Riviera. Just typing that sentence automatically precludes one from being able to complain about anything in life, ever. That being said, this wonderful world we live in does not offer up such romantic pleasantries without a little trial and tribulation. Getting to Nice was not easy. 

We booked another train late last night, booked is a term that the Europeans don’t seem to quite equate to the same meaning as I do. When I awoke this morning, no email with our tickets was awaiting my eager, little eyes.  Instead, a $500 hold was on my card, and an empty inbox was before me.

“Lovely!” I uttered allowed to myself. 

Jessica rolled over from next to me in bed, without even opening her eyes, she knew exactly what had happened. It’s practically become the exception for us to purchase tickets and get them without any hassle on this trip. She laughed a little, then gave me a reassuring look, doubtless that we would figure something out. 

It seems that we have become so accustomed to problems whist traveling, that solving them has become equal to enjoying the pleasantries we actually planned for. 

Jim and Norma met us for coffee and pastries and we conspired together to adjust our plans. Moments later we were at the train station in line and purchasing new tickets for the train. Moments after that, we boarded our train and laughed at the madness and confusion that has seemed to follow us along every ticket purchase over the past couple of weeks. 

We were on the high speed train to Nice; a rather awesome double decker TGV train and (due to the booking madness) we were in the first class carriage. That doesn’t really mean anything on this train, other than a carriage full of older, wealthier people that don’t like to make any noise whatsoever. I, being ever the chameleon to new places and people, decided to follow suit and entered in to Jessica’s least favorite version of myself ‘headphone wearing, fun killing David’. Jim appeared to empathize with my emotion and followed suit. Norma, ever the rebel and instigator of fun, conspired alongside Jessica to stimulate some sort of shenanigans. Jim and I protested, Jessica and Norma triumphed, back and forth, kilometer after 200 mph railway loving kilometer we played this little dance. 

Trains are magical to me. Still, even after riding like 20 of them this month, I find myself in awestruck wonder. A lavish room on wheels that glides through the country without thought nor divergence of path. Stocked full of beer, croque Monsieurs and comfortable seats, what more could someone want whilst traveling between A and B?

The one thing you don’t want, while riding said magical beer carriages, is something to get in the way of the train. That little afterthought became a reality on this particular route. Our 4 hour ride tragically collided with I something on our way through the countryside and forced us to be stranded for 3 hours while the train was tended to. 

My excitement for trains wanes real quick like when I’m stuck on one that isn’t moving. 

We spent the better part of a perfectly fine day stuck on a high speed train going no where. By the time we got to the coast, the train wound up needing repairs and couldn’t make it all the way to its destination. Instead, the train was going to have to stop at another station, have all its passengers de board and find another train into town. Stop me if you’ve heard this song before. 

Having already experienced the dreaded “the train you booked to destination ‘B’ is now stopping at some previously unknown station” fun, I came to the plate a little more prepared this time. As soon as I figured something was up, I whipped out my iPhone, opened the google translate app, and turned on the microphone to listen to the French being spoken from the speakers above me. I held the phone up high to pick up as much of the conductors voice as possible and, amazingly, gleaned enough information to figure out what the hell was going on.

20 rather panicked and crowded minutes later and the 4 of us were aboard a different train heading to Nice. The local train, the one that stops at every station and takes 5 hours to go 4 blocks. I’ll save you the sweaty, bitter details and fast forward to the point wherein I ejected myself from the metal tube of sardine like peoples and hailed a taxi to take us the rest of the way. 

We had a pretty cool looking Air B&B booked for the next 3 nights in a mideval village named St Paul de Vence. This village was a walled city of ancient existence and history. It’s nestled in the hills above nice and between the French Riviera and the foothills of the Alps. When we finally arrived, it was well past dark and we were hastily deposited in front of the only entrance to the village, a rock archway with a cannon starting back at your face. We had some instructions to find our little apartments that went something like this:

“Walk through the archway, continue straight until you reach the fountain. Stop. There you are.”

So there we stood, in front of a 500 year old cannon, bathed in the yellow lights that we’re currently illuminating the ramparts of the city, looking at a cobblestone pathway up a mountain and into the unknown.  

With rolling luggage in tow, we started our trek up to our long awaited destiny. 

If you ever want to make an entrance, I have a suggestion. Load all the crap you can possible fit into at least 5 rolling suitcases. Schlep those suitcases across the globe, ride on a couple of trains from hell, take a sweaty uber ride up a mountain road, and wheel your luggage on ancient cobblestone streets through a 500 year old village as the 2000 some residents try to go to sleep. 

The thunderous clamour you will make will harken back to the days of Caesar riding into Rome upon his chariot after conquering some distant land. Holy hell, we were fucking obnoxious. We had about a half mile hike, uphill, rolling our bags against the cobbliest of cobblestones. 

That said, we didn’t have a single care. After the crap we had just gone through to get here, our patience for niceties and chivalry was dead. That, and, this town had completely stupefied us into mindless submission. We were walking through pathways no wider than 5 feet, dwarfed by ancient stone walls and French stylings. Flanked on either side by artists galleries and curiosity shoppes. We followed our simple instructions and marched forward up an unknown path to an unknown destination. 

Just when we thought we had gone too far, or missed some random turn down some magical alleyway, we heard bubbling waters and could feel the pull of our destination drawing us in. We came upon a towering fountain with 4 spouts on either side, trickling water 4 feet below into a basin about 10 feet in circumference. 

Just as soon as we caught our breath, our Air B&B hostess met us and walked us upstairs to our apartment for the next 3 days. There were found ourselves on the 2nd and 3rd floors of a building that must have been erected in the 17th century. We were too famished at this point to absorb the gravity of our new home, and without hesitation we ditched our bags and headed out to the one restaurant that was still open for the evening for dinner.

It was about 9pm and we figured the town was fast asleep.

Evidently we were early. The restaurant was empty, we took a table nearest the window, plopped our exhausted keesters into the chairs and asked the waiter to bring us 4 of the best dishes on the menu, along with whatever wine would go nicely with said dishes. Price be damned, we deserved a nice, guilt-free meal on this night and we were going to get it.

The gatlog is not a food blog, I won’t subject you to the bite by bite replay, rather I’ll submit the rather artistic post dinner player canvasses as an artistic ode to the muse that is French cooking. 

Tomorrow we explore St. Paul de Vance.