Monday, June 04, 2007

Logbook: Nice - Alps

Nicealps1The past week has really flown by on The Voyage! I spent most of last Monday online, trying to contact people and do some preliminary arrangements for next month when I plan to be in the UK. I really can’t stress enough how much time it takes to do this sort of “maintenance” on The Voyage, but I am pleased to report some solid success for the day and can say that the prospects going forward are now even better than I imagined! (You’ll just have to wait and see what I mean!) Because of how long it has been since my last video Report, I spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday trying to get some photo and video media for one that I have had in mind. Sadly, I was not very successful and I don’t know whether it will ever work out. I’ll keep trying, but if nothing else, it is a good example of how much harder it often is to “make something happen” than to just “be prepared” for what comes our way!

On Thursday morning I packed up and moved to the accommodations where my friend Kay and I will be staying during the Nice-based portion of our two week co-exploration of France, then drove to the airport to pick her up. Having been to the airport before, I thought I was prepared for the adventure but, alas, I still got “Franced” -- a term I have adopted for when things just don’t work the way you think they would -- on the parking and terminal choice. Having left myself plenty of time, however, I was on station and ready to meet Kay upon her arrival. Thursday night involved a little walk-around, a decent dinner in town and an early night so she could try to get a head start on jet lag.

Friday morning was a little overcast, so we decided to take a drive north into the French Alps. After the usual challenge of navigating our way out of the city, we found a good route and zoomed on our way. The roads we chose through the mountains were pretty much what I had become used to from my time in the Cevennes and we had a really good drive. The scenery was stunning, the little towns were darling and the nuances of navigating the French country roads were typically entertaining. Back in Nice, we joined my friend Mark -- who was in town for a couple of days on his way back to the States -- for a farewell dinner.

Saturday morning we caught a train to Monaco, to experience what that tiny city/country is like without the Grand Prix taking place. What a difference! The whole place is a little surreal -- a little Disneyland-like in a way -- with its spotless streets, beautiful people, fantasy architecture and quaint charm. I have absolutely no idea what makes the place tick besides, of course, the money that is there. We walked around for a while, stopped in at the famous casino -- where they charge you an entry fee! -- then had lunch and made our way back to the train station. I can’t say I found much in Monaco to recommend it, but if you are ever in the area it is probably worth a day to check it out just because “it is what it is.”

Nicealps2Yesterday we were back in the car for another great day of driving west-northwest to the fringe where the alps meet the plains. We took a very scenic route out to the Verdon Gorge and worked our way through that amazing geologic spectacle to beautiful Lac Ste. Croix then circled back around to the north before heading south again to Nice. Overall, I think we drove about 300 kms and enjoyed every bit of it. Today is our last day in Nice, so we finally did the tourist “walkabout” through the old city, along the beach and back into the city center. Although Nice is nice, I can’t really give it much of an endorsement. I’m not really much of a “resort” kind of person and don’t relish spending days on the beach. Nice is an entertaining place to be, however, with its vast number of restaurants, ample shopping opportunities and, of course, the unlimited number of beautiful people that seaside -- especially Mediterranean -- resorts seem to attract. If you like that kind of experience, Nice is for you. Otherwise, I’d suggest it only as a gateway to get into the countryside. Tomorrow morning we plan to drive west along the coast on our way to Aix where we will be based for five days of exploration in Provence on The Voyage of Macgellan!

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