Sunday, January 10, 1999

Along the Med to Marseilles

Genoa, Italy
Woke up just before my alarm at 7:30 am. I tried to get more of the Big Fruit candy at a supermarket, which besides being closed, was also in a "bad part of town". But I was told by the hotel desk clerk not to worry because I'm big and it's early morning. I found the candy at a coffee store. It was 8:30 when I arrived at the track for the 0854 train to Nice. I got a non-smoking, non-cabin seat; today I found it preferable to sitting with up to 5 strangers in complete silence for 4 hours.
 The train ride from Genoa-Nice: the Mediterranean is on the right and hills/mountains with snow are on the left. Oh, I'm also facing backwards. The sun is quite low, so not only is it coming in one window, it's reflecting off of the other. There are frequent tunnels. So I keep wanting to take my sunglasses on and off. The sky has been blue since yesterday afternoon when the dark clouds rolled out to sea. Speaking of which, it seems like the sea is coming right up to the tracks at times. There is a beach with sand and breakers, and on the other side, snow covered mountains.
The sea is a blue that is almost more intense than the cloudless sky. The houses are quaint, stucco-like. This is Albenga. Passed a good deal of what look like vineyards. There's a small dome like island within swimming distance. I switched sides of the train so that I'm closer to the sea. It was kind of annoying to let the sleeping guy miss the view. This stop is Andorra, but I think it's only a town here. I'm trying to take a few pics of the coast, and either my camera goes dumb, or something gets in the way. I think I figured out that my autofocus camera was hung up on the glass/distance disparity. I took one more picture with the camera, then put it away. What's the point of getting the perfect shot if I miss everything else? Like the surfers. Or the palm trees.

Monte-Carlo, Monaco
Pretty sweet area! The flag is red on top, white below. Castle on a hill on a peninsula, right by the train station. Seaside mansions. The high hills fall straight into the water. Into Nice at noon, changed trains (conveniently located on the same platform. Out of Nice at 12:03. Nice was nice. The sea is shades of teal through navy blue. Now I can see the water and mountains simultaneously. Passed through Cannes, didn't have time to catch a movie. The cliffs have turned red (from gray) and the sea is still blue as anything. The plants are all a rich green. The houses are white or cream colored. The sky is still crystal clear. What a feast for the eyes.

Saint Raphael has a church that looks like it's Persian. Anyways, we've turned more inland and there are hills on either side. I'm kind of glad I can see this stuff with out much exertion, since my feet are getting the worse for wear. I think I'm in a vineyard region now (the train's final stop is Bordeaux). It kind of reminds me of Northern California, with lots of farms nestled in a valley. The rock is back to gray/white, and it looks like California, except for the castle ruins. I think Europeans smoke to hide body odor. I was, um, kind of borderline in the acceptable smell range earlier today, but now my shirt smells like smoke. No clue how, as I've been in the "non-smoking" section all day.Passed through Toulon, more mountains, pinkish clay tile roofed houses. Back to the coast. And Marseilles.

Marseilles, France
Met two girls from Alberta at the ATM. They warned me about robbery on the trains to Paris. Took a half hour to orient myself, got onto Rue de Paridis. More like Rue de Big-long-hill. Not a walking city. Especially since I've been walking 2 hours to find the hostel closed. The book read 01/02/99 reopen and even the sign has both (02/01/02) dates. Bastards. Into town. Had dinner at a "Quick Food" joint. No wonder McD's is popular. This stuff was low quality.
On the bus now, inbound, getting off with the crowd. The problem with the bus: ATMs only gave out 100 Franc increments. The bus was 9Fr. I need change, so I had lunch. Took public transport back to St. Charles train station...got room and map at the Hotel Beaulieu Glaris. So far I've walked 13"x2.54, or around 26+6, so roughly 32 cm. That's around 4km...too much! So the only really annoying thing here is that I walked too much and spent too much for a room. I'm just ticked that I didn't just hit this hotel first. Time for night life!

The "take bus back to town" idea was a foot-saver. Plus side of the hotel vs. hostel (were it an option): location. I'm right downtown and next to the train station. I walked up and saw the Verdun memorial and some Joan of Arc statue at a church... I was shoe'd away by some caretaker before I could read it. Walked up to Palais de Longchamp. Pretty cool, but I didn't have my camera. The black night really contrasted with the golden-lighted Palais. Went to a Monoprix--French for Wal-mart. I picked up 2 bottles of wine, cheese, twix, soda, and bread for around 89 Fr. Nice town, wish I had more time and my feet weren't wearing out. G'nite.

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