27 2 / 2011
30 10 / 2010
What follows is my account of the day I tried to leave Nice, France for the Cinque Terre, in Italy. On what was supposed to be my last night in France, I mentioned to a fellow traveller that it would be hard to leave France, emotionally-speaking. I did not anticipate that it would also be physically difficult to leave. Don’t get me wrong, I love France. But damn, a lot of them are very good at living up to their reputation as lazy bastards…
Today is ridiculous.
Things I wanted today but didn’t get:
An uneventful train journey, getting me from Nice to Monaco to Ventimiglia to Genova, and finally, to Riomaggiore, before 5PM. (I needed to arrive before 5PM as the Riomaggiore hostel reception closes at 5PM, in keeping with the Italian lifestyle that holds family time sacred. Respect.)
Things that happened instead:
- Oct 12 grève nationale (nationwide strike) in France extended to Oct 13. All forms of public transport severely disrupted (leaving only 1 of 3 trains and 1 of 2 flights in operation).
- Left hostel early to get to the station and hope that my 8.43AM train wasn’t cancelled. Mais oui. It was.
- Caught the 8.17AM train from Nice to Monaco. Leg 1 of all-day train transit success!
- Arrived in Monaco at around 8.45AM. Next train to Ventimiglia: 2.58PM?!?!?! Departure time of my train from Ventimiglia to Genova: 10.58AM. No other form of public transport from Monaco to Ventimiglia. Bugger.
- Called “Monaco Premier” taxi service. Was told it would cost me €75 for a 20-30 min drive over the France/Italy border, to Ventimiglia. After a brief “WTF?!” moment, I accepted the financial hit and waited for the taxi, which was due to pick me up dix minutes (10 mins) after calling.
- Waited for 20 mins. Called taxi service again. Told to wait un peu plus (a bit longer).
- Waited another 30 mins. No taxi. I had packed all my gear, checked out, caught an earlier train to Monaco, was willing to pay an exorbitant fare to taxi it over the border, and still! All hopes of arriving in Cinque Terre today - dashed. Decided to bail and took the train back to Nice.
- Got back to the hostel shuttle pick up point in Nice. Waited 30 mins for the usually regular (i.e., every 10-15 mins regular) shuttle buses up to the Villa. Figured it was never coming, so I decided to hoof it, big bag on my back and head full of frustrations, up the hills and stairs back to the hostel. What a morning.
- Reached the top of three flights of steep stairs, only to see the hostel shuttle coming down the street. BALLS.
Things I want now:
At least a dozen extremely rare and expensive vases for the purposes of throwing them squarely at the entrance to the main train station in Nice.
20 10 / 2010
I arrived in Rome just in time to get some lunch: a grab-and-go panini, with provolone cheese and prosciutto. I had planned to come back to Rome for two reasons: gelato and coffee. So I walked and walked, and somehow my feet and my brain carried on as if I hadn’t been here only once before, as if it hadn’t been three full and busy months since that magical first Roman holiday.
Many hours later, I am sated and happy. Due (two) espressos, quatro serves of gelato (that’s right…FOUR), and a quiet but enjoyable dinner by the Pantheon makes for a near-perfect day.
And then tomorrow…tomorrow is my last full day in Europe. Then I start to make my way home…
01 10 / 2010
25 6 / 2010