A lonely figure in the midst of a busy town
Awake the morning post-hike, early naturally due to those lovely church bells. So heres how it went – I got down from my top bunk and discovered I didn’t really have use of my legs. My hamstrings had completely seized. Actually only the left one but still pretty bad! Sarah had the same problem so she had a hot shower which apparently worked – I did the same but unfortunately it didn’t have the same effect.
So we had bought a pesto foccaccia for breakie the previous night, we nibbled on it and bought coffees from the Hostel. We went for a walk to the lookout as we were packed and ready to go by about 8am. Our bus left La Speizia at 12.15 however we had to check-out by 10am. The regulations which had been shovved in my face upon arrival made it very clear that we would be charged for another full night if we did check out at anytime after 10 too! So we went for a little walk down to our lookout as we hadn’t seen the view in the morning and we figured it would be a good time to look out at the nearby towns. We sat there and just admired this paradise. There was this ridicously cute little asian woman who came out there shortly after. She started doing some type of stretches, then some yoga of some sort, then she was working up a sweat by running on the spot..all in little kitten heels! Lol.
By the time we got back we only had about 45 minutes before checkout so I paid in advance, bought Sarah a 2nd coffee and also a half hour of wifi for both of us – this place was the only place that had actually charged for wifi use – I ended up buying 4.5 hours in total! The boys were catching a train from La Speizia at around 1pm also so we all planned to get the train together, because a few boys to help with our backpacks wouldn’t be all that bad right?!
The tickets we had bought for the nature park yesterday had included the cost of the shuttle. They were onl valid for that day but I figured there was no way I could manage the steps with my backpack and aching hamstring and also the previous day the driver had barely even aknowledged I had a ticket. So I was like ‘Nup I am just going to try my luck with my outdated ticket’. The boys had lost theirs so they started the hike to the station. Sarah was like ‘Just get on and ask if we can use those ones’, I was like ‘Are you serious???’. So I put my finger over the date and casually flashed the driver the tickets and a nice smile. Sure enough we got straight on and sat down with our backpacks. It was pretty funny waving at the boys from the comfort of the bus while they struggled up the road with their packs. When we got to the station the train was 10 minutes away, I decided we were getting on that train regardless of if the boys got there in time! They did anyway.
We got on the train and sat rather awkwardly with our tonnes of baggage. It was 10:30 when we got off the train and usually we would be happy to explore a new town for an hour and a half but the baggage factor tends to get in the way of a lot of fun. So we found the nearest cafe and got a caffeine fix whilst siting on the nice pavement out the front. Sarah was very adventurous and went to use the bathroom facilities – NEVER use a toilette in Italy! They have these weird toilets on the ground which are basically just a hole and you have to put your hands on the disgusting ground to balance. Needless to say we refuse to use them. Luckily the guy from the cafe accross the street had nice facilities and let us use it free of charge (that is big anywhere in Europe – nothing is free!). I had spotted a ‘Gioppanese’ restaurant accross the street (hey, it’s great no matter how spelt) and had been craving sushi so badly since being here but it was closed much to my dissapointment. At this point the boys gave us a farewell hug and left us. Can’t say we were all that shattered, sorry if you are reading this blog! So we decided to walk a bit down the street. We saw some cute little shops but again the 20kg on our back kind of got in the way of anything so we decided to turn around and just get to the station slightly early. Much to my delight, on the way back the gioppanese was open. We rushed in and got some salmon and avacado sushi and a coke zero. Amazing! I have got a bit better with my chop stick use (in Italy??) and have actually ventured down the wasabi path now.
So after a quick feed we went to the station and located the rest of the Bus Abouters – trust me, we stand out! We sat on our packs and relaxed for around half an hour. The buses arrived to pick us up and the guide, Lynda, walked past us and told us to wait there. Yeah we got sick of that pretty early so we walked to the buses and chucked our stuff on and got straight on. Needless to say she wasn’t all that impressed when she got back as none of us had been checked in. We had to get back off the bus and check ourselves in, then there was drama with the numbers and we had to do a roll call! We were pretty lucky we jumped on that us though as apparently the air conditioning had broken down on the other bus. Not that it matters, I always take a thick scarf which doubles as a blanket on the bus and wrap it around me as they put the air con on full blast and it’s like iceland. Everyone else sits there in their dresses or little shorts somehow.
The bus to Nice was meant to arrive around 5 or just after. We had a few average service stops for food etc. The highlight of the trip however, for me anyway, was definately Monaco. Unfortunately I always seem to choose the wrong side of the bus for the views but I could still kind of see it. Just taking a brief break as Amy Winehouse has come on the radio of the bus and I am bopping along. Biggest tragedy of my holiday has been her death. I guess not all that surprising though. Anyway back to Monaco after a brief distraction, no of course I don’t have ADD? So Monaco, pretty much the only town of it is Monte Carlo. It is the smallest city after Vatican City. But no-one really lives in Vatican city (apart from the Pope out of tourist season) so let’s call it the smallest. I have decided that I want to live there though. It is the most amazing city ever. The Grnad Prix is held there and they have a hotel at the top of the cliff which gets rented out for $6,000 per night when the race is on! But you can see why when you drive past, nothing even comes close to those views – it’s like nothing you have ever seen. The population is possibly so small as it costs $1 million to apply for citenzship and you are not guaranteed that this will be accepted. A hell of a way to waste a cool mil worth of euros!! And amongst those to be knocked back – Brangelina, Elton John, Sly Stallone. Definately still going to give it a crack though...one day. There are no paparazzi allowed in Monte Carlo.
It is all run by the Grunaldi family (excuse the spelling). Sounds like the daughter, Princess Stephanie, is a bit of a loose cannon. She has now run off with the circus as she has had affairs with like two of the members. Anyway she has definately been dis-inherited into fortune (I feel for her!!) and only gets an allowance of $10,000 per month now – poor Steph. She did have it hard though, she was in the car when her mother, Grace Kelly, had a stroke and drove off the side of one of the cliffs. I have no idea how she survived as the cliff is pretty damn steep. They have since closed that road and diverted in around the other side of the rock. The next awesome part of the drive? Millionaires Bay of course! Road sparkles as it has crushed diamonds in it! It costs 1 million per metre of yacht you have moored in the bay – and there are A LOT of yachts, and big ones at that. It is the greatest place ever. This is near Bono’s modest house on it’s own island. Him and another member of U2 were both married in this scenery. This place made me extremely jealous of those with cash.
The next city was out my side of the window..YAY..and just so happended to be Nice – our final stop. Nice is very lovely. A couple of travelling friends mentioned it’s slightly boring, looked okay to me but we were only driving through and staying the one evening. The beach was absolutely jam packed, a common theme with Italian beaches. You can hire a straw mat as once again the beache is made up of pebbles, or you can get the full deck chair for like 14 euro for the day. There was a celebrity spotting cruise offered which I would definately have been part of if I had have been staying for more than a night!
We were dropped off at Hotel Antares which was meant to be fairly dodgy but seemed okay to me. We were in a 6 bed dorm for the night. Check-in was quick and we went straight up to the 5th floor. For some stupid reason they call it room 556 but after half an hour we discovered it is actually ‘56’. There was no-one else in our dorm when we got in and we pretty much dropped our bags and left again. One of the other Bus About girls had come in shortly after to claim her bed. So, the first thing we did in Nice you ask? Shopped in the coolest reject shop ever for the first 30 or so minutes. There were all sorts of goodies. I bought; Some super cute black and white love heart thongs (the ones I brought along for the adventure have seen better days!), some hair mousse and a hair clip. Hair clips have been my best investment here due to the affro style I have going on, pretty sure I have some awesome dreadlocks going on right here. Anyway we went to a bit of a ‘ghetto’ clothing shop next, mostly Ed Hardy (ew) but a bit of a mix too. I bought a really cute maxi dress with beads for a bargain 10 euro and shouted Sarah a toe ring as she had been goi ng on about her toe ring for a few days now. We then decided to look for some dinner. We settled for this crappy asian stuff that we barely touched. I am back on the limited food to save room for drinks diet. So I got a rice paper roll (2 days old) and a sake cocktail (3 days old?). Oh yeah, today was the first day I had been feeling half decent and as predicted; Sarah had suddenly come down with an awful cold. She got some asian vegies dishes but only ate like 3 bites as she said she couldn’t actually taste it. The girl in our dorm had said they were referring to my cough (still hanging around) as ‘The Bus About cough’. The 3 guys on the bus in front of me earlier all had the exact same cough which must have looked great for me, I swear I have never even spoken to them before! So on the way back to our Hostel we discovered we had a Japanese restaurant and the best supermarket ever next to us. God dammit, how did we miss them?? We stopped at the supermarket – Sarah for a smoothie full of healing vitamins and me for a Heineken or two. I had wanted to finally try tyhe wine but you needed a cork screw for all of them so that put a spanner in things.
We had planned on going back to our room and using the wi-fi but the roommate we had just met said you had to go downstairs to use it. So we went downstairs – me with my laptop in one hand and a half finished Heineken in the other. There were little tables there so we sat there and I spent ages uploading my Cinque Terre photos and catching up on my e-mails. Sorry if there were some that made little sense, same with my blog that I wrote while down there. Sarah was going to go back to the room so I asked if she could wait for a couple more minutes and mind our table while I hurried to the supermarket for 3 more Heinekens. I sat by myself in the booth all night and just stuffed around on my laptop. Everyone was outside drinking and being social, so I just listened from the comfort of indoors. I ran into Carlos in the hall and he was driving a bus tomorrow but unfortunately he was going to Spain, not Switzerland. Anyway he said he would probably be back when we returned to Nice for another night in 5 or so nights when we had done our little Milan – Lauterbraunnen – Lake Como loop. At about 10:30 I decided I may as well get an early night as a. We were leaving early in the morning and b. I was drinking on my lonesome – bordering on alcoholic. I was hoping that Sarah may be well enough to have a big night with me the following night in Milan, but so far my chances are not looking good L Poor Sarah.
So I went back and got in my bunk – Sarah had kindly offered to have her first top bunk experience. Pretty much everyone in the room was coughing (me for one), snoring lightly or sniffling (Sarah) niiiiccce – no pun intended.
Tomorrow we would be up for a nice little trip to Milan. We are hoping to get our hair done as Sarah thinks her hair is looking bad and I know mine is.