Matthew Delman
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Nice, France

April 20, 2010 @ 12:22 PM | Permalink

When we got off the train in Nice (pronounced niece), it was a bit off-putting. We didn't speak the language, we didn't know how to get to our hostel, and the street was lined with sex shops and CHinese food. Luckily, you can't bank on first impressions.

Nice is in the French Riviera - a lot of high brow shopping. We found our hostel, hotel in fact, called Hotel Paradis, situated between a Louis Vuitton and an Armani store. But we couldn't get in. Apparently the reception closes at 8pm and you have to use a code to unlock the front door, giving new meaning to the French term "Laissez Faire."  What I've gathered from my own experiences in France and from what other people have told me, there is never anyone to hold your hand. You have to do it all yourself. So we went to a ritzy hotel and paid 10 euros for 30 minutes of internet so I could check my email for the code. Once we got in we had to enter another code into a safe to find an envelope with our keys in it. It was very strange, but like I said, France is not good with 1st impressions.

We stayed in a room with three other roommates in the loft of the building. 3 girls - Fran from Cali, Suzie from Australia, and Question Mark from Singapore. They were all studying in Copenhagen for the semester. Suzie had some crazy stories about her boyfriend's family. Once they had her over for dinner and ate kangaroo meat. This wouldn't have been too strange except for the fact that the kangaroo was hit by the family car earlier in the day, then scraped off the road and brought home to cook. Apparently kangaroo meat is very lean, must be all the jumping around and boxing. Oh, and her boyfriend's family keeps a penguin in their freezer. 10 years and counting.

The next day we walked uphill to a monastery and some Roman ruins where we met a friendly cat. There was also an ancient park of olive trees that people were hanging out in.

We took a bus up into the mountains for 1 euro. A leaflet at the hotel advertised a high ropes course for pretty cheap and it was amazing! We got there, hopped on some bikes, and rode thirty minutes past some beautiful meadows to the course which was massive. There were 4 different routes and we decided on the 'thrilling one' rather than the 'physically demanding one'. It was a good choice. The guides show you how to clip on, and then just let you go. We didn't sign any waivers. There was no one there to help us once we started. But we made our way from obstacle to obstacle and it was a blast, as well as a good workout, which we needed after all the gelato. Check out this video of me on the zipline.

The next day we were set on going to Monaco for a day trip but on the bus we met some more Americans, 3 of which were teaching English in Northern France. Instead we followed them to Villefrance and lied out on the beach all day.

We brought sandwiches, baguette, brie, jam, and strawberries and had a picnic by the water. Somebody had an iPod player and I put on some Red Hot Chili Peppers for the whole beach to chill out to. I was so pale from living in cloudy London, so a little sun was perfect.

We were supposed to take a night train that night to Paris but it got cancelled due to the strikes (which apparently is a frequent occurence in France - big surprise). And the worst part is that we had checked out of our hotel and the reception had closed at 8. Luckily we still had the code to get in. Danielle asked some shy Chinese girl if they had an extra bed in their room and they did. We got to know them, her name was Mo (pronounced like Mwah) and her friend's name was Liudong, who was the coolest person ever. He spoke just enough English to be adorable. He studied science and engineering in China, but decided that he wanted to be a playwright and started over studying theatre and literature for the first time in Gernobyl, France. He knows it will be hard for him, especially since he has to write in French, but he wants to do what he loves and I have the utmost respect for him. He also was wearing a hilarious shirt that he bought in the 'Arps' (all his Ls were Rs) that said "Snow, Sex, and Tartiflette." It made me love him even more.

The next morning we caught our train to Paris, which was packed because everyone on the cancelled train had to take it also. We got there early and got seats but people were sitting in the aisles. Despite the bad 1st impressions, Nice exceeded my expectations.

Bon Voyage,

Del

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