Our day started out well enough, the sunrise over Venice made for a beautiful send off. We woke up very early, grabbed the early Vaparetto (water bus), heading to a location near the train terminal where we caught a bus to the Treviso airport.
The Treviso airport is a tiny regional airport used by Ryan Air that has about 10 seats for about 500 people, all with bags, back packs, purses, shopping bags, pillows, and other assorted travel items, all ready to head off to...wherever. To be fair, there was evidence of a new terminal being built that will probably be ready for use sometime within the next decade. Whew.
We flew from Venice to another smaller regional airport in the outskirts of London (Stansted), then took an express train into the heart of London where we had detailed instructions on which lines of the London Underground, or "Tube," to use in order to get us quickly to London Heathrow for our flight home. What transpired sounds like something out of a movie.
At first things went fine, got onto the right line, transferred to the next line, all in keeping with our instructions on getting to Heathrow. However, due to two separate construction projects, as well as a line with a train stoppage due to a signal problem, we were forced to be re-routed two more times! So with only about an hour and a half to spare, Mandy and I were literally and figuratively sweatin' it (it was actually quite hot that day) as we slowly progressed our way to the airport.
We were at one station on the outskirts of town when we heard a muffled announcement about replacement bus service to Heathrow. Almost simultaneously I saw a small sign identifying that stop as the one for said bus service. I made an exclamation to Mandy, grabbed my bags, and hoisted myself out of the train. I turned and saw her, bags in hand ready to join me when the doors slapped shut between us! I'll never forget the scene: both of us staring at each other on opposite sides of the doors, mouths open in total shock. We were separated in London with only about 75 minutes until our flight home!!!
We missed our flight.
Mandy and I hooked up again at the airport; we probably would've made the flight had she not been mis-directed to the wrong terminal. But, oh well. We booked flights home into Vancouver, B.C. instead. It all ended well. A long, tiring, but interesting day(s) - we figured we were awake for over 24 hours.
Yesterday was Florence (Firenze) day. We took a very early morning train down to Florence and a late night train back. We were absolutely exhausted by the time we got back to our room.
First things first, we saw the beautiful Duomo with the colored marble carving facade which is truly spectacular. Then we immediately made our way to the world's best gelato down by Santa M. Croce church for the Riso gelato. We each had a nice big serving and knew we'd had the best.
We had made internet reservations for the museum that houses the famous David sculpture, but all did not go well. We had confirmation numbers, order numbers, etc, but apparently not the right paper. So we raced to a nearby internet spot, print out more stuff from the confirmation email and brought it back, and it still did not work. We went back 2 times with different information from the reservation email and it apparently was not correct. We never made it in!!! We were hot, angry, and very bothered. How can you be in Florence and not see a museum?
But the day did get better. We went and consoled ourselves with another helping of the Riso gelato. We figured it was either a consolation prize or else we were having one for "the boys" back home that were waiting for us. (Guys, it tasted really, really, really good.)
I found Italian shoes! 3 pair to be exact; something that was on my list of things to buy here in Italy. The salesman was very charming. Mandy found the perfect leather jacket. We felt much better about our day.
Our feet hurt so very badly after circling the main part of Florence about 3 times, that we actually changed our train reservations for an early train, which meant we got back into Venice around 11:00 p.m. instead of 11:30. We got pretty goofy on the ride home cuz we were so tired. We think the people behind us might have figured we had tourettes syndrome because we kept yelling out °For Chette" (Fork in French), which actually sounds like something we would never say in the US - you can guess. I also made the mistake of telling Mandy I had subscription sunglasses. She figures I get a new pair every month or something. We even took pictures of each other with food in our teeth.
It was good to be back in Venice and rest.
Today we are meandering Venice one last day. We are packing up, and weighing our bags to make sure we don't go over our weight limits. Tomorrow we come home.
It will be good to be home.
We saw a comical sight: a pigeon was walking around the Nice train station with a string tangled around his feet. We figured that his so-called Pigeon "friends" played a trick on him. I can hear it now, "Hey Sam, lets tie Carl's feet together while he is napping!" Thankfully Carl could walk okay and could fly even with his shoe laces tied together. All is well in the world of Carl.
Okay, I just got pigeon poopoo all over my hands, sweater and map of Venice. Great! Now Mandy has to hand feed me the cough drops.
Our room was ready in Venice and so were we. We shopped our heads off, got lost about 50 times, had a great meal on our way home - at least we though it was the way home, and finally made it home.
We got Stoph's dress today and It was in a huge box, which we knew that we could not carry around. We went into Nice to look for a bag to carry it in, however there are not many bag stores in Nice! We finally found something that will work and went back to Villafranche. The rest of the day we laid on the beach and rejuvinated out tans. Then we caught a sleeper train to Venice!
The train was an interesting expierance. It was swaying - we swayed for days afterwards and in fact we are still swaying. The old lady that shared our couchette snorred and the train had all kinds of racket. The train was also quite hot on the top bunk and cold on the bottom, so none of us were very comfortable. But we made it with a little sleep and overall it was an experiance.
This day we visited Monaco and the highlight was the palace, the museum and the church all up on the hill overlooking the city. From the Palace the view of the city is spactacular. The gardens were gorgeous and the whole area by the palace was kept immaculately clean and well manicured. Down in the city it was a little different. The Grand Prix had just ran a few days before so there was scaffolding and bleachers every where. We got to walk on part on the track!
Monaco's marina was crammed with yachts; not just your average yacht. The 115 ft yacht that Kat liked was dwarfed by a dozen or more boats in the 150 foot + range. Truely amazing.
We walked around Nice after trying to return the car. I'm afraid that the whole car thing may end up biting me in the hind quarters. The Gare (train) station office was supposed to be open, but was not. I finally asked a clerk from another rental agency and she said to park the car somewhere and drop the key in the box, which we did (though I did forget to fill the gas tank). Anyway, I won't go into the whole story here, suffice it to say they will be hearing from me.
We checked into our hotel; old but comfortable. The view is wonderful from our little terrace; we can see the tiny harbor, marina, and part of the town.
We were sitting on a fountain ledge in a tiny square when we spied the cutest little coal black pug wandering around the table legs of the open air restaurants. He explored, sniffed, marked (or so he thought), and generally meandered around. He was adorable. About an hour later when we had sat down to eat, several blocks away, I felt something weird around my feet, voila! There he was again. We were a little concerned that he might be lost because he looked very well taken care of and was wearing a collar. The waiter shooed him away and he moved on to the next restaurant. We didn't see him the next day, so we assume all is well (we hope).
Today we leave our small hotel between Frejus and St. Tropez and head further East towards Monaco. We found the tiny town on the sea where we'll be staying the next couple of nights, Villefranche Sur Mer (means: free town by the sea), dropped off our luggage and then drove back into Nice to drop off our rental car at the train station.
We were supposed to turn the car in there before 11:00 a.m., but the rental desk was closed for some reason, so we had to do the key drop thing as a neighboring car rental desk told us to do. We did so, but I am feeling a little anxious cuz of the scrape; I wanted to talk to someone about that. Oh well.
After turning the car in, we decided to find this Russian Orthodox church that was nearby. We found it without too much trouble, took some photos, and as we were turning to head down into "centre ville" I asked Mandy where our backpack was (I was carrying our orange beach bag). Her eyeballs nearly popped out of her head when she realized she'd left it back at the train station on some steps by the rental office. I informed her that it held all of our remainig train tickets as well as a multitude of other sundry items of great importance. She immediately turned around and, well, I couldn't keep up with her. She was gone in a flash. By the time I made it back to the station she was heading towards me with the biggest grin on her face and the tell-tale straps of the backpack slung across her shoulders. Whew! Everything was intact. We couldn't believe it. It had been almost an hour sitting there on the steps of the station and no one had touched it. Truly a miracle.
We spent a minute giving a big thank you to Jesus for the safekeeping of our bag.
We will wander around Nice a bit before heading by train back to Villefranche. We'll probably go to Monaco tomorrow.
Saturday June 3:
We had a very full day today. Breakfast consisted of things we picked up at the local casino (grocery store): yogurt, cheese, rolls, and jam. It is much cheaper to do this than to pay almost 15 Euro to eat at our hotel. We took it back to our hotel to eat on the terrace and were informed that no eating was allowed! It can make a mess; understande, No? Ouie, we did understand and went to eat in our car in the parking lot. We thought it was weird.
We then went on to Grasse, walked the old, somewhat dirty town, and then drove on up into the hills more to see some caves. The caves were amazing. Apparently a farmer that owned the land found the small opening and over a period of a few years opened it up some and built stone stairways down, and down, and down....the cave has an assortment of stalagmites and stalagtites and other rock formations and colors. It was very interesting.
From there we went back down to Grasse where we kept our appointment with the Galimard institute where we created our own fragrances. I loved that. We measured out various base notes, mid notes, and top notes. It was really fun and I'd like to go back sometime and make another one. We can order our fragrances again anytime.
After our sweet time in Grasse, we meandered back down towards the Riviera and into Cannes (pronounced Kahn), where they just finished up the annual Cannes Film Festival. This town looked very lively and was even larger than St. Tropez, and full of even more money (wasn't sure that was possible). It reminds me of when we walked around Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive years ago. You can see the wealthy (and not-so-wealthy) walking among the expensive shops, coming off of mega yachts in the marina, and generally trying to look impressive to anyone watching; mainly Mandy and I and hundreds of others eating along the promenade.
We left just after sunset, around 10:00 p.m., and drove back to our hotel in St. Aygulf - dead tired after our very long, very fun day.
Re-cap of June 1 and 2:
ON Thursday we left Cassis and drove down to the Cote de Azure, towards St. Maxime and St. Tropez, to a little town called St. Aygulf. We checked into our small hotel and then drove on down to St. Tropez.
St. Tropez was amazingly full of money!!! The marine was full of multi-million dollar yachts. We shopped around the town for a few hours, found the rocky point that showed off a glowing sunset, and then selected a marina-front restaurant for dinner. Our waiter, Antonino, really wanted to take Mandy out after dinner, "if Maman eees o.k. with dotter being safe vid good man." We said we'd be back the next day and left giggling. He didn't seem to understand her being engaged, or the big rock she sported on her finger. Poor Antonino.
On Friday, I woke up feeling not-so-good again. I had coughed a lot in the night and knew this bug was really starting to take hold. I had my voice back, but the coughing is getting significant. It looked like rain outside, so we decided to do laundry and get our nails done instead of sightsee anywhere (we were definitely NOT going back to St. Tropez). I had a really honest-to-goodness French manicure. A beautiful french girl gave me the white-tipped French manicure, all the while trying to converse with me in French. How cool is that?! She did a great job too. She was sweet as she was trying to communicate with the few English she knew. We both did a lot of hand waving and hemming and hawing trying to think of words or point to pictures or items that might help explain what we were trying to say. It was a blast and somehow it all managed to work out.
Warm Rain! Because of the rain and lightning we are doing laundry, got manicruès, and took some time for Kat to take her nap and get well (she has been struggling with a cough and a sore throat). We thing that tomorrow we will visit Cannes where they have the celebrities from last weeks Film Festival.
Words: ForChette = fork, lardons = sliced ham, pain = bread.
P.S. Be sure to click the titles for a link to a photos. This one is A photo from our terrace in Cassis.
Today was a lazy day by the pôol. We got a little pink and walked around the marina town a little bit. French words are Frite = fried/ fries, creperie = crepè shop, leverie = laundry, fruit de mar = fruit of the sea/mussels.
We left Cassis and drove to Frejus where they have not so wonderful shopping and very wonderful las plages (beaches). We checked into our hotel; the pregnant lady who seems to own it is quite a neat freak, and then we drove to St Tropez. The city has some very expensive shops and dozens of large yachts in the marina. You could see the money dripping off of the wealthy couples. There was one restaurant where the floor was white sand and suede and leather seats; it was very elegant.
We wished that you all were here!
Click the Title - it is a link.