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Michael’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 02 Jul 2006

Location: Nice, France

MapEntry 44 - Nice, France (26th - 29th June)

Howdy loyal readers! If there are any of you out there, just kidding, I´m sure there are heaps of you - write me a message. Am almost back up to date with the diary, photos still have a heap of work to do, and all the videos from Interlarken are up now (sorry bout the sound, but it´s windy when you paraglide, and I can´t figure out why the sound is out of sync with the images either... will plug away till I figure it out).

So, Nice was nice... end of entry... just kidding. Arriving in itself was stressful, and becasue we didn´t have any accommodation sorted out yet, we had no real idea where to go. Using the trusty (okay, not so trusty, but always there) Lonely Planet from 2002, we headed to one of the hostels in there. Unfortunately, the LP maps don´t indicate one way streets, and road works, so Clint was stressed out of his mind driving, and his poor eye-sight doesn´t appear to recognise no entry signs! So after a couple of times when we had to back out of one-way streets, we finally find the hostel we are looking for, but can´t get parking. I entrust Clint to do a lap of the block (no more one way streets, and you can´t get lost doing a lap of the block can you?), and I run inside to check it out. It was 3pm, and the reception didn´t open back up till 5pm, so we decided to try somewhere else. We found a car park, got out, and started hunting around the city for a place to stay. In the end we found beds at Hotel Bacarat, for €22 a night. The place was alright, but there was a major security issue... one swipe card for 6 people to the room. The problem comes when it gets handed to reception, and anyone off the street can walk in and ask for the room key. I could go back now, say room 307, go in the middle of the day when no-one is about and clean the room out... so that sucked a bit. What was worse was having to bang on the door at 1am till someone woke up to let you in... stupid system.

Next issue was where to park the car, and this is the first time we had come across this problem. We had to get it off the street with the metered parking, and eventually made our way through the one-way streets to an underground car park. Reading the sign at the entrance, and my French is non-existant, it appeared that it was going to be €38 for three nights, a not too bad cost. More on that later.

We missioned back to the hotel with our bags and then quickly turned around and set off to watch the soccer. We headed to the ´old town´ and got there at half time... another thrilling 0-0 half of soccer, man I love this sport! We actually ended up at Wayne´s Bar, which was by chance as we saw the Aussie flag hanging out the front, so of course, it was full of Aussies. Anxious, I had the air-horn in one hand, and a pint in the other, waiting for something to happen in the game. And wait... and wait... and wait. You get the point. For the first time during the entire world cup we heard the Aussie, Aussie, Aussie chant, with a hearty reply. It appears that mnay travellers in Europe have become aware of the old German connotations behind it, and are not using it as much, at least while in Europe.

Then, it all changed... any Australian knows what I am talking about. 94th minute of the game, ten seconds left, and some actor wins the game for Italy. What a crock. That is why I hate soccer. You sit there for an hour an a half, nobody getting close to scoring, then some dick takes a dive and finishes the game, and our World Cup hopes. What a joke. So, the mood in the pub changed so dramatically, with everyone already having ordered their next rounds getting ready for extra time. People were walking out leaving their beers behind they were that shattered! Enough of that, it´s too sad a story...

We wandered back through the beautiful old town, and finally made our way back to the hotel. With such a long drive day, we really didn´t do much, besides a bit of internet web page updating and the headed to bed. Man that is tough on the 3rd floor, with no a/c or fan, and a fat ass old spaniard (who liked to sleep naked) in the bunk above me. Not a comfortable nights sleep by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe snuggling with Clint isn´t so bad afterall...

The next morning, we went to the ´American Embassy´ to grab a fresh cooked breakfast... Bacon & Egg McMuffins! As hot as it was, and with not a whole lot to do in town, we did a huge load of laundry, sweating our assess off in the laundromat, then headed to the ´beach´ around lunch.

In Nice, the term beach refers to the section of pebbles, and stones, that lead to the water. It is the most uncomfortable thing ever, especially if you actually try and lay on a towel. The tourists and locals are easily separated, as the locals move round the ´beach´ without hesitation, and the tourists look like they are walking barefoot on crushed glass. They did have a couple beach volleyball courts, that had been created with imported sand. Other than that, there was no much to see besides the European tradition of topless bathing, and heaps of it. Then you can pick the Brits that have come south on holiday and are just waiting to turn that pasty white ´casper the friendly ghost´ skin into a glowing red mess! A few hours of in and out salt water and we took off back to the hotel. On the way back, fearing the radio saga of Italy could continue through the rest of Europe, we went into Virgin Megastore and bought a couple of CD´s for the travel... Michael Jackson Essentials double CD and Busta Rhymes new album (figured Clint probably wouldn´t like to hear Busta over and over again!).

That night we put pants on, and headed out to Monte Carlo, in Monaco, just a 15 minute train ride up the coast. As feared as the dressed code is for the Grand Casino, at the end of the day it is pretty relaxed and the same as most of the other casinos in Europe. Longs pants, jeans fine, top (t-shirts okay, singlets not) and try not to wear runners. The gardens out the front were immaculate, and all of the Monacan flags made quite a pretty setting. We wandered in, handed over the €10 entry fee (which got you €10 of pretty useless gaming tokens) and looked around. The inside it pretty stunning, but small at the same time. Not tiny, but not as grand as one would have thought. What was grand though was the money being bandied around!

We chewed through our €10 chips very quickly, with the only tabels open being Roulette, Black Jack and Punto Banco. No idea how to play Punto Banco, and with the cheapest Black Jack starting at €25 a hand, I was left to play my old nemesis of Roulette with a minimum of €5. So that didn last long. To make it worse, if I did win, I wouldn´t double my money, my guest chip would be replaced with a real chip, so I´d still only holding €10 worth of chips, but could at least cash them in...not that it mattered, I lost the guest chips. I ended up cashing up €50 worth of chips, mainly to get my souvenir chips, and then gamble the rest on roulette. I was doing reasonably well, sitting around the €30-40 most of the time. Moving around tables, it was getting busier by the minute and there were a lot of chips floating around. At one stage a guy slapped €5000 worth of notes on the table, and proceeded to cover the table with big ass €500 euro chips. On the same roulette table people are throwing their €5 guest chips on! After a few spins, the guy had €1000 on number 11, and it came up. A quick €35,000 win, and more suggestions from Clint about what he´d do to a guy for money. Between his comments at the casino, and what he´d do for a lift in Cinque Terre a few days earlier, I´m starting to have my doubts about Clint!

Sitting on €30 in my hand, and a €5 on the table (black), I had a win, and would have €40 in the hand. The only problem being, the money never got back to me. All of the €5 minimum roulette tables play using cash chips, and there are upwards of 20 people on each table. With 2 different €5 bets on black (one of them mine) both were taken by seated players as soon as they were paid. Despite my bitching and moaning, even the crupier didn´t give a shit and just shrugged his shoulders. One of the people must have been lying and the other honestly taking their money, so I didn´t know who to argue with. After fuming over it for 10 minutes at the side of the table, it became pretty obvious that it was the girl, and not the guy, as then next half dozen spins, she didn´t once bet on a color, and the guy did everytime. So, still on tilt, I threw all €30 remaining chips on black... red. Damn, walked out down €50, plus teh 10 to get in, but played for a couple hours, so was worth it for the experience. By the way, no poker tabels.

Outside, still bitching, Clint wanted himself a coke, but wasn´t gonna pay the €5 for the glass in the casino. We walked down the restaurant strip until he found a restaurant and ordered two cokes to go. Idiot didn´t ask how much first, and ended up paying €15 for two 330ml cokes! Dumb ass.

Still on tilt, and with an extra €15 to bitch about, we headed to the smaller casino that had €10 a hand black jack. I jumped on with Clint´s last 10 (he was down €40 in the Grand Casino, and €15 on coke!) and I threw €40 in to play a minimum 5 hands. Well, five hands it was. I started with two picture cards for a 20, against the dealer showing a 4. Dealer then took a 4 (8), 3 (11), 4 (15), 6 (21) to take my money off 5 cards. The remaining hands went very similar. I busted once, with a 14 against a 10. All other hands I had 19 or 20 and the dealer beat me with 20 or 21 with 4 or 5 cards every time. I had never seen anytrhing like it. So, head down, still bitching about the €10 that got stolen and how it caused me to gamble stupidly, we headed back to Nice on the train (not in the limo as our grand plans had hoped for) having lost €90 and spent €10 to get into the casino. At least I still have my flashy €5 chip! Back in Nice, a 95 cent cheeseburger to sooth my soul, and off to bed for another night below the fat, naked Spanish guy... what a way to finish off an already crappy night!

Due to the punishing of the wallet the previous night, we had a low key day the following day. Trying our best not to spend too much money, except for the obligatory delicious Nice ice-creams (there´s a shop with 30 flavours on every corner it seems), we headed again to the beach to work on our tans... two buff ass Aussies lying on the rocks! You´re glad we don´t have photos of that, trust me. It was a very low key day, and in the late afternoon we headed back to the hostel and got changed. We met up with a Kiwi chick, and headed out to the old town for a few drinks, stopping on the way for a light Chineese dinner, not paid for in it´s entirety. We managed to swindle an extra Coke for the meal deal. We sat in the main park, like desperates, sharing a cheap ass Chineese meal deal.

Afterwards we headed to the pub district to catch the soccer... oops, for the first time in I can´t remember, there were no games on... I actually kinda missed the company! So, for the first time in a few weeks, musicians were back playing in pubs before 11pm, and we sat outside the pub in a walkway, listening to some acoustic guitarist playing. We met a set of 3 yankee sisters, travelling all together, as one of them was studying in Paris, and the others were over for a holiday. Clint asked his usual question now when he meets Americans (particularly chicks) ¨Is daddy paying for this, or did you actually save?¨ Daddy was paying. A few beers, cheap, we were on a budget, and we were feeling pretty hammered, a combination of beer and sun does that to ya from time to time. A walk through the old town back to the hotel, and we passed a sex shop and dragged the Kiwi chick in... man the french are dirty f--kers. Videos of all sorts of shit... and plenty involving shit, and horses, and german shepherds, and all sorts of nasty stuff. We headed home, and got in a ´good´ sleep (under a dirty old spaniard still) before our long drive to Barcelona the following day.

In the morning we pakced our bags and headed to the car park where we´d ditched the car 3 days earlier. As I wrote earlier ¨it appeared that it was going to be €38 for three nights¨, but when we went to pay the ticket it came to €65.80 - ouch! That worked out at €22 a night... damn. We took the car, left the car park, and missioned back through the city of one-way streets till we were in the right direction and heading for Barcelona.

Next Issue: Entry 45 - Barcelona (29th June - 3rd July). Parking tickets, Kebaba Pizzas, Bar Crawls, Tapas, Hookers (and damn ugly ones), Falminco dancing, beaches (with more titties) and more bikes (even Clint had a good time in Barcelona - his words). We just rocked up in Valencia, and are heading to catch the train to the beach... enjoy the cold weather suckers...