Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Eze - Southeast France

At breakfast at the airbnb, a fellow housemate (I’ll call her D) and I got to talking and decided to explore Eze together. D is an older Polish-American lady who has travelled the world, I’m talking some 60 something countries. I found her quite intriguing and could not think of a better companion to explore Eze with.  We set off right after breakfast; hopped on the train which popped us over into Eze in no more than 15 mins, but then to our biggest dismay, we had to wait 1 hour and 4 minutes for the bus that would take us into the village. Waiting was the worst! I was internally dissolving into a toddler on the verge of a tantrum, I think I even started to whimper at some point.

Eze is a quaint medieval village atop a cliff with a breathtaking panoramic view of the Mediterranean sea. It was soooh worth the wait.  Tourism is the primary source of income in this commune so expectedly, the village is littered with restaurants and little shops to entice the average tourist.

As we strolled along, we struck up a conversation with a locale (well,  D struck up a convo- she speaks French) who told us that Eze was gradually being bought up by a wealthy Iranian who had been acquiring  homes owned by families for centuries. The saddest part the story is that today, less than 20 original families are left in Eze.  In case you are curious, these homes being bought are turned into hotel rooms.  Don’t you just love capitalism! 

This new tidbit of information kinda ruined my romanticized view of the village and I began to see it for the business enterprise it was slowing evolving into. You don’t  have to be a genius to see that  in another 10 years it will surely have become some fake disneyeque hideout for the rich and famous. Oh and by the way! Walt Disney was said to have spent a considerable amount of time in Eze. 


The must-see part of Eze is the garden on the summit of the mountain Le Jardin Exotique (6 euros). We got to the top and behold the world at our feet.  It was truly extraordinary. The ocean was laid out in an endless lush carpet of blue; staring at it made you forget all your problems. I think I just stood there for minutes simply appreciating the beauty I felt so very privileged to witness.  After taking it all in, we found a nice little spot away from the sun and had our leftover breakfast of croissants and clementines then talked about world politics and simply enjoyed the serenity of the space we were in.

My failed attempt at photo editing 

We stopped by the village Cathedral a couple of hours later as we began our descent. In the Cathedral, I walked around taking pictures as usual, then decided to take minute to be thankful. Sometimes we.. well,  I,  get so caught up in the trying to get through my checklist that I sometimes miss out on enjoying the present. So, I had a sit down to be thankful and was suddenly overcome with an unexpected flood of emotion. I truly had no idea where this was coming from but it seemed like all the repressed emotions I’d been holding onto over the last few months came bubbling to the surface. I had myself a good old ugly cry, said a prayer and picked myself up like a big girl. I am not sure if D saw this but if she did, she was nice enough to give me some space.

Oh, before I forget, the other attraction in Eze is the Galimard perfume factory. It was not really my cup of tea but it was something to do while we waited for the bus. The factory was not really a factory meaning no glass beakers, tubes or safety goggles,  but more of a shop with rustic artistry. The highlight of the factory is the option to mix your own scents; you are quizzed on what your scent preferences are – flowery, fruity, musky and what not. Then you are offered a variations of complementing scents with which to combine to make very your own personalized perfume. 

Getting to Eze from Nice: You will need to take the Monaco bound train(3 euros ) and a mere 10mins ride. Then a bus from the train stop into the village (1 euro and 20 mins ride) (be sure to double check on the schedule before you head out, so that you are not stuck waiting like we did) The garden is the spectacular part of Eze it is well worth the 6 euros to get in. There is also a perfume factory in the village  a tour is free i believe but each bottle will run you about 45 euros on the average.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nice - Cote D'Azur

Weddings seem to take me to places I wouldn’t typically visit. A dear childhood friend had invited me to be a part of her wedding in the South of France - Provence. So there I was, gearing up for another Euro trip within the space of 2 months. The difference with this trip was that I was going solo – something I had not done in years.  Oh the luxury! no hubby, no baby, no travel companion to have to compromise with, just  me, myself and myself! I had been craving some alone time, so this was perfect. I should add that this was not originally meant to be a solo trip but a series of events occurred that caused it to be so. 

Naturally, I started planning on places  to visit; For  a split second I considered going against my natural instinct and not plan… but planning won, it almost always does, I can’t help myself. Sigh
Some light research revealed that I would be visiting a predominantly beach city - Nice, a place synonymous to Miami with more shi shi. Since I do not value getting half baked in the sun or wearing a bathing suit, the plan was to embark on a cultural adventure of sorts - visit the 2 villages I had read about on tripadvisor – Eze and Antibes.

At this point, I will skip any facts about Nice that you can find on google. One, because I hate when bloggers regurgitate Wikipedia  and Two, because it’s boring.

 Nice was my main destination, I flew into Nice,  boarded there for a few days before heading out to Provence where the wedding took place.

Before I delve into how epic (slight exaggeration) my trip was, I like to give a budget breakdown of my travels. I do this because I think this is a very important factor for interested travelers. Yes, it is nice to see the pretty pictures and amazing activities, but for regular people like me, what I want to know once I have established an interest is, can I afford it? And not a lot of blogs show a cost break out.

Airfare       Delta roundtrip JFK – Nice - $1387 (worst food everrr)
Lodging     Airbnb, Nice - $246 (3 nights)
         Airbnb Contignac - $145 (2nights)
Pocket Money – 500 euros (with a goal not to spend it all –feel free to judge me)  

I arrived in Nice in the afternoon and was completely unprepared for the wave of heat that engulfed me. It was October and the temperature was bordering the 80’s - my iPhone temperature forecast obviously did not do its job, because I did not pack for summer.

I stayed at the cutest little airbnb right off  Promenade de Anglais (the main strip along the beach front) couple of streets behind the Negresco hotel (famous people stay here). I highly recommend this airbnb, Emmanuelle who runs the place is a sweetheart. The ride from the airport to her place was 16 mins busride, this is a plus plus if you’ve had a long journey down. One more thing, if you ever stay here, no need to waste money on a taxi (35 euros); the bus 98 right outside the airport terminal will take you straight to her stop for 7euros.

A quick shower and I hit the streets to explore the beautiful town where the rich and famous journey to frolick in the sun. 

Figured i'd stick my feet in the Mediterranean sea
I strolled down to the Vielle Ville (Old town) where there are tons of restaurants, little shops and an open market. 

South of France is known for its Lavendar

I later ended at Place Massena the main square; here, you see 7 men seating in different positions on poles. I was told that these men represent the 7 continents; at night, they are lit in different colors signifying the different conversations being had, at some point during the course of the night they all change into 1 color symbolizing that an agreement  has been made and they stand as a united front. Isn’t that beautiful? Only if the world would work that way;  I loved the idea of this that I of course returned later to take pictures.  

PS: You can see the whole of Nice, or at least all that is worth seeing in 5 hours. 

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