Tuesday, August 29, 2017

3 Countries, 3 Days- Riviera style

My feet hurt. Why, you ask? Over the last ten days, I’ve walked over 75 miles around Europe. And I obviously didn’t wear sensible walking shoes.

My good friend Elvera wanted to do some traveling before starting grad school, so travel we did. 

After picking her up at the Nice airport, we started out by showing her around our area. There was the obligatory visit to the La Napoule castle followed by a ride on the tourist sightseeing train in Cannes. Afterwards we stayed late in Cannes to catch a fireworks show. 

The next city on our agenda was Nice. Our first stop was this Russian Orthodox cathedral- not something you'd expect to find in France! This was built for the numerous Russian expats that came to Nice in search of sun. And fun fact- it was financed by Anastasia's dad, the last tsar of Russia.

We also visited 3 baroque-style churches, a 16th century mansion, and ate some good Italian food and great gelato. Most of the local cuisine in Nice leans much more Italian than French- it did used to be part of Italy, after all (wasn't definitely part of France until 1860).
Palais Lascaris
Continuing that theme, we started out Thursday pretty adventurously- by taking a train to Italy. Ventimiglia is the closest town to the French border. We basically stepped directly out of the train station and into a gelato shop. We have excellent priorities.

Note the Elvera-sized door.
We both liked the old town of Ventimiglia. It’s not touristy at all and has interesting winding streets (more like alleyways) all set on a hill with a Mediterranean view.

Our day was not over- Menton was our next destination. It was a new city for me! Menton is in France, sandwiched between Monaco and Italy. It’s supposed to be the warmest and sunniest place in France. From the looks of things, it’s also one of the ritziest. 

Our calves might have already been burning a bit from Ventimiglia, but that didn’t deter us from hiking to the top of Menton’s old city. We climbed to the cathedral and were confused to see multiple bouquets of flowers. Then the casket and funeral procession came out of the church, while we awkwardly stood there and watched as it was loaded into the hearse. It was interesting to note that the French don’t seem to dress up for funerals. This is odd considering they usually dress nicely even to run out to the grocery store.

Don’t worry, we waited until the coffin was out of sight before snapping these pictures. I can't choose which ones to post, so you're going to have to see them all.

We were eventually able to venture into the church. My first thought was that I wouldn’t mind having my own funeral here. Elvera mentioned that I could start the trend of destination funerals. Our conversations are always this normal, I promise.

Our last day trip from France was to Monaco on Friday. After visiting the Princess Grace Garden, we stuck to the traditional Monaco sightseeing route (palace, cathedral, casino). 

The funny thing we noticed about Monaco on this trip was a slight difference in culture. They seem to value customer service a bit more than the French and Italians. It's pretty common for French and Italian people to try to make you feel guilty for making them do their jobs. 

For example, they can be dramatic when you don't give them exact change and they have to open their cash register and count it out. In Monaco, I had to have 2 different people break a 20. This gives me anxiety in France. But in both cases this day, they did it with a smile! Most likely because in Monaco, they're used to breaking 100s haha.

As you can see, it was a busy week of sightseeing even before we hopped on a plane. Coming up next- our trip to southern Italy!

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