TRAVEL BLOG: French onions (30/08/23)

Today we peeled off the Montferrat layer, and moved on to the Nice layer.

With a combination of Air Traffic Control meltdowns and most of the people available to give us a lift to the airport disappearing,  we reluctantly decided we needed to grab a lift to Nice whilst there was one available.

It was quite sad. Hélène and Jean-Marie had been amazing hosts.  They could not do enough for us. When we arrived there was beer in the fridge; when it was hot they set up a fan for us; when the nights got cold they offered us a heater. Hélène let us use her washing machine. They checked on us every day and joined us for beers, but there was nothing intrusive about their presence.  They made us feel like family from day one. Our decision to leave early was the sensible thing to do, but we felt bad about leaving Hélène and Jean-Marie. They offered a refund because we were leaving two nights early, they didn’t need to do that, but it was out of the question as far as we were concerned. They were amazing.

It didn’t take long to pack, we took our un-drunk booze over to Sam (she’s a bit of a dipso in her spare time you know) and took our bags over the Jon and Tracy’s.  Then began the mammoth task of squeezing luggage for five people,  and five people  into a VW Polo hire car. We did it with enough room for a very small thing left over.

Jon and Tracy have been our saviours this week. We knew this place was remote, but not THAT remote. Without a car you are snookered.  We didn’t even know they were coming,  but they stepped up to the mark, saved our veggie bacon and added some variety to this break. And they were an oasis of sanity in a valley of chaos. We salute you guys.

Driving into Nice

The journey back to Nice Airport was far less eventful than the trip down. There were no meltdowns at le toll booths and no shuttle buses were involved. All was calm with the world.

At Nice Airport we spent ten minutes trying to work out how to get the tram to le city centre. For an international airport, there wasn’t a lot of multilingual signage going down.

Soon we are hopping off le tram,  which at some point in the journey had turned into an underground train. We emerged into a large square bordered on all sides by the parasols associated with alfresco dining and a large statue in the middle of a fountain.  I’m going to call it Garibaldi Square, because that’s what it is . I think.

We cannot check into our accommodation till five of the p.m. So rather than drag our case around town we sit next to our case in a pub. We don’t want to waste the entire day sitting in a pub though, so we sit in several different pubs, slowly crawling towards our flat.

At around 4:30 we decide 5:00 is stupid so go to see if the flat is ready. We walk down a picturesque narrow alleyway, turn left by the ne’er do wells on scooters chatting on burner phones, then turn right by the scallywags in leather jackets flicking their switch blades, and up past the bloke bleeding in the gutter. Eventually find our appointment.  The key for the gate is in a key safe, but bizarrely,  not on the wall of the building, it is inside a padlock looking thing attached to the fence opposite.

Our home for the rest of the week

The steel door creaks open and we start our climb up old concrete steps. We count the number of flights steps by the number of rat traps we walk past.

We finally get into the room: it is modern, clean and bright. But it is all one big room. You have to shit in the kitchen, next to the bed. We have not met the owner and there’s no beer in the fridge. There’s no anything in any cupboard.

After having a soak in the kitchen sink/bath, we head out for the bright lights.

By le coincidence, one of the Croydon Massive is in town, so I end up being the only Chippendale on a Croydon girls’ night out.

Croydon possee on le prowl

We meet in a long street which is wall to wall restaurants, like Caroline Street in Cardiff. Or maybe The Hayes. We have pizza and cocktails and sample various beers. That’s all you’re getting. What goes on tour, stays on tour. My lips are sealed.

Eventually, it is time to return to cell block number nine and we walk back through the alleys, keeping our backs to the walls for security. We make it to our escape room alive.