01.09.2012 - 13.09.2012
The French Riviera
Continuing on our journey, our destinations very much decided by the Busabout stops we were on our way to the French Riviera! We decided to try Airbnb in Nice and ended up staying in a cute little flat in the city hosted by an American who had been living in Nice for the last 8 years. I was so excited to finally have the opportunity to cook (and not look at a menu for once) so we dosed up on our iron stores with a steak and green salad! A day trip to Monaco was on the agenda, that place is in a league of its own, incredibly clean/orderly and filthy rich! In Nice we also caught up my Myra’s friend’s twin brother AJ and his mate Scot.
This is what I took away/learnt from the French Rivera
• Even in the most beautiful and richest places it can still look grey and miserable on a rainy day!
• Some people have far too much money – window shopping for yachts, Ferraris and private jets isn’t something you can do everyday
• You may have aspirations of going to Monaco to meet a rich husband but this may not work out exactly as you envisaged (like an invitation to go to India instead)
• Just because you are in a very rich country and you pay a lot for your food doesn’t mean it will be cooked. 5 euro for a Coke and 20 euro for a raw burger – thank you Monaco
• As an English speaking tourist you always seem to end up going out to English places e.g. ‘Waynes Bar.’ But we still managed to meet people where far too much of the conversation was lost in translation. There is only so many times you can try say Monaco/Monte Carlo with varying accents before you give up on a conversation!
• If you order a litre of wine with dinner you may have a few bottles of liqueur placed on your table after dinner to sample as you please
I have to say we were pretty excited that our long trip (13hours) from Nice to Barcelona was our last trip on the bus! We spent one night in Barcelona, Myra’s first night in Spain where I introduced her to paella and Nesquick ice cream. Before Myra had to head home and back to the reality of working life we decided we should spend a few days relaxing on the beach in Spain. Trying to choose a place was difficult because a) we didn’t have much idea what places were like and b) we are girls and therefore it seems impossible for us to make a decision. We somehow finally booked a place in Tossa de Mar which turned out to be a fantastic decision (the other place we were looking at reminded us of the Gold Coast so we were glad we avoided this).
Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar was a quaint little fishing town with a beautiful beach on the Costa Brava (about 70km north of Barcelona). Our two days there consisted of swimming, reading on the beach, shopping, eating paella and drinking sangria. A perfect combination for Myra to feel like she had some time to relax in her 4 week whirlwind trip!
Because my trip of Europe looks like someone has scribbled all over the map, it’s only fitting that I went back to Barcelona for the 3rd time! Again this was just a flying one night visit for me. This time however we stayed in an awesome hostel with AJ and Scott. Barcelona is famous for its nightlife and we were excited to spend a Saturday night on the town. It didn’t quite work out the way we planned, the Spanish go out much later then we are used to, clubs don’t even open til 1am. We had an amazing seafood paella and sangria for dinner which was probably the highlight of the night because we spent more time looking for places to go rather than being in places themselves. We stood in the line at Razzmatazz and decided the crowd wasn’t for us and we were squashed into the tiny 200 shot bar with the shortest men I have ever seen (Myra looked like a giant) but all in all we still had fun! The next morning I played the role of the Guadi tour guide (and for what I couldn’t remember from my tour in July I made up) and then it was time to say a sad goodbye to Myra! We had the best 4 weeks and weren’t even sick of each other which I think is an amazing feat in itself!
And then I was off the usual Europe trip path, heading to Andorra
My plans to visit Andorra had two purposes
1. To see the famous Pyrenees mountains and landscape
2. To get my passport stamped. The principality of Andorra is not in the Schengen area, therefore by spending time here it technically shouldn’t count in the 90/180 day Schengen rule
Unfortunately because I came by bus and they aren’t strict on passport control I didn’t get my passport stamped. However I didn’t regret my decision to spend 5 days by myself in Andorra, the mountain scenery was incredible!
A quick summary of my time in Andorra
• Shopping (window shopping) – Andorra is known for its duty free shopping. The capital Andorra La Vella feels like a giant version of an airport because every second shop is selling cigarettes, perfume, alcohol or watches/sunglasses!
• I was shocked to see you could still smoke indoors and Tabaco companies can still advertise on billboards
• Accommodation: I spent the first and last night in a hotel in town and the other nights in a hostel 4km out of town up a mountain. I was basically the only one in the hostel which was like a school camp and it was a 45min hike to get into town!
• The highest golf course in Europe – at 2250m. Sadly they didn’t have any smefty golf clubs so I couldn’t play
• Day hikes – I caught the bus out of Andorra La Vella to some of the smaller towns (Arinsal and Soldeu) and did a few hiking trips. I loved the landscape of the Pyrenees and was shocked by how steep some of the ‘green’ hiking trials were. I have never walked up something so steep in my life, I thought my calves were going to explode!
• I can’t wait to go back there in winter and go skiing!!!