I have now been back on Canadian soil for 10 days and boy has it been a busy 10 days. Victory. Drama. Breakthroughs.
I will happily share more on that but before I do…I want to wrap up some thoughts on my trip abroad.
While we were in Nice, we met a fellow Canadian – a young kid barely out of high school from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu who was working at a beach resort (I use this term loosely) to earn money so that he could travel all around Europe. In his thick Quebecois accent, he said: “The money is good. The experience is better.” Oui! Oui! I was impressed by his sense of adventure, work ethic and gumption. I think most of all, I was refreshed to see someone so young without an attitude of entitlement.
In so many ways, the French riviera was a welcome change from the mountains. That gorgeous blue-green sea – briny as it may be – is a sight for sore eyes. But if I thought I could escape the presence of rocks, I was terribly mistaken. There were rocks everywhere! Don’t go to Cote d’Azur expecting sandy beaches. The best you can hope for is an Egyptian import. Yes, really and it is like coarse, grainy, construction sand. As my husband so aptly stated, “The French Riviera has got nothing on the beaches of Portugal.” Caiscais, Guincho, Algarve – all offer glorious silky sand. (You must go there if you have a chance. You will not be disappointed!) Ok so no beach in the South of France. But there was sun. And ART.
Prior to our departure, I had been reading up on Nice and learned about the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall. As a lover of surrealism and a big fan of Chagall’s work, I was tickled pink. I told Mike immediately that we would definitely be going to this museum and that I was absolutely leaving with something. No sooner did the words leave my mouth than my smartypants husband said, “Well for their sake, I hope they have a gift shop.” Very funny. I fell in love with easily 10 pieces of Chagall’s work but limited myself to 2 prints: Les Maries de la tour Eiffel and Abraham et les trois Anges. They are now framed and ready to find a home in our bedroom.
A couple of days in Nice mightily stuffing ourselves and traipsing around the Old City and such was plenty. It was time to head off for an experience that could only be written in a James Bond film. We hopped a train from Nice to Monaco for a bit of indulgence on the Med. One day was enough in Monaco. I saw the Palais Princier, caught a wedding at the Cathedral in Vieux Monaco, strolled past Port Hercule, snapped photos in La Comandine, got my passport stamped at the Tourism Office (because I’m a geek), spent no money at Casino Monte Carlo (pictured above), and fell in love with the Musée Océanographique de Monaco.
Cannes was the last stop on our tour de France. It rained most of the day and by the time we arrived in the infamous city, I was tired of looking at the Prada and Chanel storefronts and ready to do something a little more off the beaten path. So we took a small ferry boat from Quai Saint Pierre to Île Saint Honorat which is part of the Lérins Islands. It was quiet – such is the monastic life – and scenic. It isn’t everyday that you come face-to-face with a 5th century monastery (pictured above). Gotta love that!
On our last day, we had a layover in Frankfurt. I recommend long layovers, if you can manage it. They work best for me when they happen on return trips – before the long transatlantic flight with little sleep. Despite the size of this German city, I was pleasantly surprised by its excellent transit system. We took the S-Bahn from the airport into the heart of Frankfurt to walk along the Main and stroll through the Old Square in Romerberg complete with snapshot of the Fountain of Justice (pictured above). Some black “kaffee” and a stop at Occupy Frankfurt was just enough of Germany before saying auf wiedersehen.
There is great beauty and adventure to be found all over the world. But I must admit that I am never so grateful and fulfilled as when I return to my beloved country and the people (and dogs!) I adore.
P.S. For more travel photos, check out my Flickr account.