Friday, February 26, 2010

On the French Riviera

We can see now why people come to the south of France for vacations and to live. While we were staying in Nice we took a few day trips to the different areas up the coast and saw some amazing sights. We took the tram from the hostel to the bus station and then caught a bus to Menton. Menton is about 50 minutes up the coast. Both the tram ride and the bus ride cost a total of 1 Euro each, an amazing bargain. The road to Menton follows right along the coast and the ride was stunning. You would not believe the numbers of houses you can cram on one cliff! We arrived just a few minutes before the Citrus festival parade and found a place amongst the enormous crowd. There were actually a number of festivals going on at the time and it was hard to choose which ones to get to but the Citrus festival was fantastic. The parade was something I've never seen before, the route was crowded and the people in the parade sometimes took to mixing it up with the crowd. People were shooting those sticky strings at each other and some floats had confetti cannons,to top it all off they went around twice. After the parade several of the bands found spots along the way and gave extra performances. The most interesting part of the festival was that all the floats and displays were made of oranges and lemons. Beside citrus fruit the Riviera is also famous for money and money we saw.

I'm sure not everyone who comes here is wealthy, we are a prime example that this is the case, but there sure is lots of money around. Our visit to Monaco and the Monte Carlo Casino brought us very close to some of that wealth. Here you could see valets parking very expensive cars such as Rolls Royce, Farrarie, Alfa Ramaro and a Bentley. I knew Bentleys existed but had never seen one in the 'wild' until now. We could not get over the number and size of the yachts here. Not just the motor ones but luxury sailing boats as well. Some were far bigger then our house and definitely had better furniture. We braved the stares and advanced into the lobby of the casino just to admire the decor but we refused to pay the 20 Euro fee to 'see' the gaming tables. We would have been refused the opportunity to participate because our clothes would not have passed inspection and there was an inspection. One of the fun things we did here was practice our French.

Now we have been trying our limited language skills in other countries and trying to learn some as we go but in France we have a better footing then in most countries so far. Terry especially has acquired a good skill at French and her recent studies have enabled her to formulate questions and sentences beyond how to order coffee. This has come in quite handy but has resulted in some funny situations as well. Terry, in her skill, has become quite convincing to most people here, this often brings the answer to her questions. The problem with that is if the answer is too much beyond a qui, non response it leaves us (her) somewhat left behind. It really is fun asking a question and getting a whole paragraph in rapid French back in response. It leaves her (us) in somewhat of a 'deer in the headlights' look. We keep trying and the people here are very understanding and very accommodating. We are looking forward to Paris and more challenges. Wes

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