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Nice: nice. And Monaco, also nice.
Categories: Photo Set, Travel

Day One: Nice.

Yep, it’s official. For the next few weeks, I will not be able to say or hear the word ‘nice’ without making some pun about the city with a similarly spelled name, located in the French Riviera. As the first stop on our mini-Europe trip, a friend, Alican, and I, flew into Nice. Now if there is one thing I can say about this city that hit us right from the start, it’s that they have the most painless airport I’ve ever traveled through. More on that later, but seriously- zero hassle. Zero.

Exported-Blog_bdqr-3Leaving the airport, we were greeted by gorgeous palm trees and some erratic-at-best driving styles- people weaving all through intersections, and a more or less total disregard for any sort of pavement markings… A total departure from the prim and proper of Germany, so let’s just say we were glad to be boarding public transit. A scenic hour-long ride later, and we were at our hostel- called Villa St. Exupery Gardens (one of two VSE hostels- the other called Beach, unsurprisingly located near the beach). A long day of travel knocked us out for the night, and we awoke the next morning to a day of exploring; up first: downtown Nice.

Let me get this out of the way right off the bat: Nice is an expensive city. It is the vacation spot of the wealthy and affluent from all across Europe- those bored of the Spanish vistas will instead choose to spend lavish vacations in the Côte d’Azur (the Blue Coast), and the prices reflect that: €2.50 for a can of coke, €3 for a small cup of coffee… not cheap. That said, it is a beautiful city, with a wonderful mixture of French architecture, narrow European  streets, and just a touch of grunge in the back alleyways.

Exported-Blog_bdqr-14Exploring around the city, you can quickly see why the affluent love it in Nice- gorgeous sun, a balmy 30 degrees with a lovely ocean breeze- and just enough culture to make you feel like your somewhere far enough away from home to be on vacation. The ever-presence of people toting shopping bags from famous French design houses certainly speaks to the type of people in this city, but I guess that’s what happens in a tourist town.

The city is home to probably 70 or 80 thousand different marinas (not really, but seriously, there is little water area that doesn’t have a dock nearby), and the largest play host to a number of yachts, cruise ships and decadent vessels that most of us regular folk dare not dream of riding aboard, much less owning. This is, of course, not even mentioning the cars. If you’re any sort of petrol-head, walking around Nice with a camera is probably the easiest way to get picked out as a tourist: it’s difficult to find an area where you aren’t immediately itching to whip it out and snap photos of some beautiful ride.

Day Two: Monaco.

Exported-Blog_bdqr-32For all the ridiculous prices in this city, including a €6 bus ride from the airport to the city center, the 45 minute bus to Monaco is dirt cheap- only €1.50. Granted, it takes the longer and more scenic route, along the water, but that only really ads to the beauty of the trip. In Monaco, the bus drops you off at the tourism centre- a white building apparently filled with nothing but brochures and tourism staff whose catalog of languages that they’ve mastered probably outnumbers those I could merely list by name.

Near the tourism center is the famous Casino Monte Carlo (it’s worth noting, as an aside, that the largest grocery store chain in Nice, is called Casino, as are all their in-house products… yeah, I don’t know…). Yes, this is the very same casino that James Bond visited in Goldeneye, and the cars parked out front only act to reinforce this classy-as-hell aesthetic. Unfortunately, as my ID was back at the hostel (taken in exchange for the keys), I wasn’t able to go in, nor could I lose €5 on black as I so desperately wanted to do (because, who doesn’t want to lose 5 bucks in the James Bond casino!)

Exported-Blog_bdqr-44Walking around Monaco, we also visited the Grimaldi Palace- the home of the ruling family for almost 800 years. Taking the top spot and most prime property in the tiny little country, the Palace stands above all of Monte Carlo, and of course overlooks a marina as well. The boats of the rich adorn the docks here in Monaco too, and if the cars in Nice are nice (heh heh heh), then the cars in Monaco are on average 10 times better. Lambos, Ferraris, Aston Martins, and Bugattis roll around the streets, delivering their affluent drivers with no small amount of fanfare.

Update: The part below has been added, and the part under it has been restructured slightly to fix the time line.

wp_000555Now, one bit of useful information, and the first and only pro-tip in this article, is that the last bus back to Nice departs at about 9ish. The last train, about 30 minutes later. A 1 hour bus ride means that a cab will probably run you in the 80-100 euro range. So we ended up sort of stuck in Monaco at about 10:30 when we finished dinner, and had to hitchhike back. Fortunately, some kind soul didn’t get scared off by two bald, middle-eastern looking guys trying to thumb a ride, and picked us up. Included bonus shot of Alican excitedly hitchhiking, with a disturbing look on his face :p

Exported-Blog_bdqr-54The next day, we headed back towards Monte Carlo and Monaco, but we stopped off at a small beach near the outskirts, possibly on or near the border of Nice (I really don’t know where exactly one ends and the other begins, to be frank) and had the quintessential French food, Escargot, with some pizza and beer. It was a relaxing afternoon of exploration, during which we snapped a few photos, and then headed back to the hostel (good and early so we wouldn’t get stuck again).

The final morning was a trip to the airport (damn that €6 bus!) and a painless stroll through check-in, security (don’t bother with pulling out your laptop, or really disassembling anything at all), and onto the plane to our next destination!

Up next: Rome and Bologna- Italy!

But first, the reason you came here…

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    1 Comment to “Nice: nice. And Monaco, also nice.”

    1. […] friend, Alican, and I, are not the best with preparation. I will back this up by mentioning that my previous post has been updated with a little story that I forgot to mention: missing the last bus and trains back […]

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