A Travellerspoint blog

Nice, Italy

Including trips to Antibes, Cannes and Monaco


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While trying to find accommodation for Nice, we were kinda shocked at the prices. It was going to cost us €450 for three nights in a hostel. So we kept searching all different ways and came across a unit available for those three nights that looked unreal and for only €300! Was this too good to be true?
Once we arrived and got in contact with the guy, he came and showed us through and it was amazing. “You are very lucky this became available” he said to us, “we had a cancellation as the weather has not been too good”. “Excellent!” we both replied. “So… which are you here for, The Cannes Film Festival or the Monaco GP?”
No wonder everything was booked and/or overpriced! We had no idea either was on. The GP didn’t start though until the Thursday which was our last full day there. We set in motion a plan to see as much of Nice as we could for the rest of the day, hit Cannes the next day with a stop off at the town in between called Antibes, and then go to the first practice day of the Grand Prix the following day.

The sun had come out just as we arrived in Nice, so we just walked down to the beach. The water is the most beautiful blue! We continued up the beach and up a heap of steps to a lookout and gardens atop of the headland. We walked back through the older part of town and checked out some markets. We had our own kitchen in the apartment so we stopped in at the supermarket and had a home cooked meal! So good, they are definitely cherished when we get to have them.

Our first stop the next day was a town called Antibes, halfway to Cannes on the train. We were recommended to stop here by the guy who looked after our apartment and it didn’t disappoint. It was another great day and we walked around the marina and out to the fort on top of the hill. We have been to a few forts now and this one was clearly a winner so far for us. It was very well preserved and offered some amazing views up to Nice and over the town, looking over the billions of dollars sitting in the marina. It was interesting as a long time ago it was a very strategic point as it was located on the French border until later when the border was shifted and Nice became part of France.
In the town we visited a Picasso museum. Picasso spent a few years here and painted a lot of works in this building by the sea, which is now the museum. He has even painted straight onto the wall in one spot! We had a drink outside a pub and it was sweet watching all the VERY expensive cars try and squeeze past each other, and past the Toyota Yaris that a snooty lady parked right in the middle of the road and then just walk off. Random!

We jumped back on the train to head a few minutes up to Cannes. Cannes immediately reinforced to us that France is the country of minimal toilets or waiting excessively long periods to use one. After sorting ourselves out, we saw where the red carpet area was and all the people starting to line up to grab a good vantage point. We weren’t sure who was attraction this evening, but we grabbed a spot to find out. We heard hysterical screams and saw on the big screen that it was Rob Patterson (some vampire movie guy). This was really quite funny to us as Kate was not into him at all and I haven’t even seen any of the Twilight movies. Many girls would’ve killed to be in our position. To make it even better, Kristen Stewart turned up a bit later too! Kate managed to squeeze into a premo area that was heaps closer and I had to wait a few minutes to take my opportunity and jump in there too. We also got to see Kirsten Dunst and Ewan McGregor.

After all that excitement we walked up along the boulevard where all the beach parties happen on one side and all the huge Hotels are on the other. There people breakdancing on the side road and the amount of ridiculous cars was almost unbelievable, the best being a Bugatti Veyron parked out the front of the Ritz where “The Dictator” was staying. We didn’t quite fit in wearing our pluggers around here, so we went back a few streets towards the train to have a few beers in the pub before going home.

We organised tickets for the first day of the GP. €75 each, which sounds expensive but Sunday tickets for the same stand were €600! We had to pick up our tickets from an office when we got there which proved to be pretty difficult to find, the streets were very confusing there and very steep! The tickets were pretty awesome, looking over the Marina where boats can reverse right up to the side of the track. We could see from the chicane, up to where we were sitting and the next few corners and the start line was over the back of our stand. Ear plugs proved to be a great investment, especially when the were cars going past behind us, next to us up the hill and in front of us! We got a bit of rain so the cars were in and out a lot. Was a great experience, we were so close to the track. Maybe next time we can be on one of the luxury yachts?

Our trip to Nice (and surrounding areas) proved to be very successful!

The photos of NICE

The photos of ANITBES & CANNES

The photos of MONACO GRAND PRIX

Posted by KPad 09:19 Archived in France Comments (0)

Nîmes


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OMFG –
So, we nearly missed our flight to Marseille. We had to go to some special check in desk and the stuck up lady f-ed up and told us that we had booked for a flight the day before! In a state of extreme frustration and a two-minute breather, we checked again and we were right. We booked for the right day! Punchable!!! We had to take our checked bags to the gate with us, which could have been an issue with all our liquids but for some reason we only had to take out Kate’s hairspray. Pretty sure the chick just ran out at home and just needed to restock. We ran until we were about to spew (thongs and skinny leg jeans don’t make for very good running attire) and made it to our gate. I will just say at this point, that the info on how to get to Barcelona airport is very misleading and the city generally and the airport are poorly signed… two and a half hours is not sufficient when trying to join the dots.

We thought our luck might have changed because we had scored an exit row, but the descent and landing were pretty sketchy. Kate was next to a rather petrified gentleman who was thoroughly confused as to why she could possibly snooze through the bumpy ride. Poor dude. We landed late and only had a small window to get to the train was pretty small. For this reason we jumped in a taxi even though there was a direct bus.
The taxi was a brand new 5 series BMW and we thought it would be expensive. The train station was so much further than what the Airport transfer bus said! Not sure how they calculate 5 minutes when we took a 20 minute, foot to the floor BWM ride :o/ It was pouring rain and the taxi driver was crackin’ coz we told him we were in a rush. On the highway a car pulled across on us and we all got a huge scare! Our driver had to swerve doing 120km/h in the rain and we didn’t die! Thanks BMW. It was lucky that he went fast as we only just got the station in time. Then, just to make our day better, the automatic ticket collection machine wouldn’t work with our card. The main counter line was huge and we didn’t have enough time. We had to plead our case and show the booking on our iPhone to the train officer and he thankfully let us on. Our luck finally changed once we got into Nimes because we walked out of the train station and, hello hotel! Our hotel was only 500m up the road from the station!

Considering the morning we had been through, we dumped our stuff and went straight out and found a pub. We found it hard to order until the guy that ran the pub came over and could speak English. We keep mixing my languages as we have been in a few countries now. i.e. I said “bonjour” followed by “gracias” when he gave us our drinks. Kate said “Bonjour, au revoir” to the supermarket chick – she cracked up laughing… Hello, goodbye! hahaha

It was a Sunday night but this is the first place we have come across that was pretty much dead on a Sunday. We finally found an awesome burger and wrap, but Nimes is like a mirage. Everywhere we walked, it looked like there were heaps people and better places further ahead… but you get there, and there was no one!

Nimes is not so big so we set off on foot the next day with our umbrellas. We grabbed breakie and then set off to the first monument. The Tour (tower) Magne has been a strategic point since the pretty much 15BC and was originally a Celtic monument. The Romans had a very big influence in Nimes and the “Tour Magne” was a tower that was built for Augustus, Caesar’s son, whom the city is now named after (part of his name is Nemausus…). The Roman influence is further shown by the other two places we went. The first was the Maison Carrée, which is a classic looking Roman rectangular building used as temple with the big columns surrounding the building. They showed a 3D movie depicting all the heroes of Nimes over the last 2000 years! The other place that we went was the best-preserved Roman amphitheatre anywhere in Europe, which is built much like the Colosseum. It is now called the Arena and still used to this day for Bull fights. Yep, bull fights. Nimes doesn’t seem very French to us, besides the language. It has a lot of Spanish culture, such as the bull fighting, paella and sangria! And Lebanese too! Lots of kebab shops or halal burger shops! It’s fully sick! It was raining again the whole time we were here. Was a great little visit but we’re looking forward to seeing the sun again!

You can see the amazing photograpic version of this HERE

Posted by KPad 13:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

Barcelona


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With our train leaving Valencia at 730pm we didn’t get into our hostel till 1130pm. With little option, we went with a dorm for the first time. A 10 person dorm on a Friday night makes for not a lot of sleep with all the people getting home from clubs and the snoring!
Once again we hit up the free walking tour of the Gothic City. Our guide this time was possibly the happiest person in the world. We learnt a few cool things about early Barcelona and decided after the tour to head back to the Barcelona History Museum. Current day Barcelona is built on top and the Roman ruins of a town built in the year 17BC! They had uncovered some of the ruins when they were constructing the current museum, so they have excavated the site under where the museum stands and you can go down and walk around a few hundred meters of these ruins where you can see where they had a church, the city walls and where they used to make wine – and lots of it! Apparently they thought it was medicinal to drink a litre a day ☺.

The guide also gave us the hot tip that they were holding some festivities that night at 7pm in front of the cathedral where they celebrated Catalonian customs.
The best part of this was where people make these big human pyramids 6 or 7 people high with a little kid that climbs to the top and makes the Catalonian sign with four fingers to represent the stripes on their flag. Our stop in Barcelona was short, but we’re happy to be heading to Nimes in the morning

PHOTOS!

Posted by KPad 22:10 Archived in Spain Comments (3)

Valencia


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To save us getting up at 3am to catch a non direct flight from Faro, we opted for a flight back to Madrid and a train then to Valencia later on. This meant that we didn’t get into the Hostel until about 9pm. So we retired after some dinner we cooked from a supermarket around the corner.
Our only full day there, we got up and went on the free walking tour, as we liked the one in Madrid. The guy wasn’t very engaging but it was still ok and we got our dose of Valencia history.
The afternoon was mostly spent on the Internet due to trying to find accommodation in Barcelona on a weekend and an unfortunate “wallet in the rental car we just left in Portugal” incident. We were lucky that the rental agency had already found it and we just have to get it sent to us.
The afternoon was stressful so we went to the supermarket again to grab some food for an early dinner (6pm is early dinner) because we had skipped lunch. We found a cold 6pack of Coronitas (Coronas). Dinner was yum and the Coronas were like a bottle of water in the Sahara. Enjoying our beverages in the common area, we started talking to a couple of Slovenian girls on holiday. We had a fun and interesting chat with them, which spilled over into the pub across the road. Looks like we might be going to check out Slovenia!
A slight hangover later we were checking out and heading on a tour into the Valencian country side with a visit to some hot springs being the draw card.
Turns out the springs weren’t that warm on a cloudy, windy day! With everyone chattering their teeth, we explored the gorge filled with crystal clear spring water. It was pretty good but so bloody cold! The trip took us a few places we weren’t expecting, such as a massive dam and its overflow valve blowing at full ball! We finished the tour at a bar up in the hills for tapas and drinks. We all had so much fun there! We even tried some snails and some of the bar owners own alcohols. We were all having such an awesome time that Mike the tour guide had to boot it back into the city with only minutes to spare before he dropped us at our train to Barcelona.

Another note on Valencia - there is so much awesome street art. Sometimes pictures that take up the whole side of a multi-story building. You will see some in the pics but i wish i took more!

Pics RIGHT HERE!

Posted by KPad 14:39 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Lagos, Portugal


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We arrived in Faro on the 9th May from Madrid and were super psyched because we were looking forward to sunshine, beautiful beaches and a hire car so we could go off the beaten track. Driving the hire car was quite the challenge for Brad…. They drive on the right hand side of the road so Brad had a lot of blank stares and confusion expressions as we made our way to Lagos. Let’s just say that he has a bruised left hand from smacking it into the door to change gears…. But we made it to Lagos!! Just :o/

We didn’t have a map of Lagos on the first night, just Brad’s iPhone and Google Maps so we just drove until we found somewhere to have dinner; and came across a little beach side restaurant just out of town. After dinner, we started making our way back to the apartment and seems that Google Maps doesn’t show one-way streets. I accidentally navigated Brad straight into the middle of Lagos Centro (the center of the ‘Old Town’), where people dine on the sidewalks of the VERY narrow streets…. streets that looked a lot like footpaths and NOT roads for cars. There was nothing wrong with my navigating; it was the ‘No Left Turns’ that really got us into trouble. Sounded something like, “turn left here Brad and we will be on our way outta here! No left turn! Arrgghhh!!!!!!” We drove past many, many cafes and restaurants with some pretty confused and unimpressed people. Just to clarify, they were actually roads. Maybe not commonly used as roads at 11pm at night.

The first full day was just lazing on the beach, watching the tourists getting absolutely smashed by the dumping waves on the shoreline. Hilarious, but a little cringe worthy. And a little stroll around the “Old Town” to check it out.

The second day was cloudy so we put on our walking shoes, a.k.a. pluggers, and went to explore the fort that surrounds the Old Town and all the old streets and houses. Not knowing what else to do, we just took off in the car. We went from one beach village to the next, which was cool so we decided to keep going to Sagres on the southwest tip of Portugal which has a massive Moroccan Fort.
Check the photos and see the two guys fishing off the cliff, it must have been a 50m drop!

We organised a quad bike tour for the third day. We had to drive 45min back toward Faro to meet our guide, Richard. We had a cruisie trip up over the mountains, checking out the scenery and stopped at a little village for a drink and had a good chat to Richard. He is a pom, like so many others here. Along with Irish and Russians in this fairly touristy region. He realised that we could both ride well, and it was only the two of us on this trip, so he cranked up the pace on the way back. We were getting so sideways through the corners and he was impressed! So much fun!

Another beach day followed, with a walk to the other side of the river to Meia Paria beach and watched the sun set. The next 2 days, mother nature really turned it on for us! We went on a boat trip to the Grotto Caves (only takes about 45mins) before hitting the beach. And on the last day we hired some kayaks and paddled to the Grotto Caves and found a little tiny hidden beach to swim and sunbake. It was so beautiful!

On the last night we decided to go have some cocktails and dinner… which turned into a night out until 3am. Opps. All the bars are pretty quiet until 1am and then they get pumping!!! And then they close at 2am. Just when you start to get excited, you get kicked out. But Lagos is the town of free shots!! Haha If you sit at the bar, the bar staff serve themselves, and us free shots! Pretty much get a free shot with every drink. Have no idea what they were, but they were delicious! We finished up at a bar called “DC’s” which was pretty highly rated on Trip Advisor and it didn’t disappoint. We met a Dutch nerd who was actually really cool! Told us all about The Netherlands and places to go other than Amsterdam. Another dude was Irish and I accidentally hustled him at a game of darts… or five. Lol We played this game that took me ages to understand, so he’d just tell me where I had to hit, and sure enough – I’d hit it! Who knew!

Off to Valencia tomorrow!

Look at the pics HERE

Posted by KPad 12:35 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

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