Monday, 21 June 2010

Me, the Secret Service and Bill

The weather has been kind today, probably because I bought a light fold-up raincoat. Oh well, it will be useful back in NZ.

I ordered room service breakfast and received a carafe of hot chocolate, pain au chocolat, butter and jam and a mini baguette plus nectarine. A good breakfast and I saved the nectarine and baguette for later. I enjoyed this hotel despite the fact I could never get the TV to switch on.

The bus to the centre of Grasse cost only 1€ and the driver told me to hang onto the ticket and present it to the bus driver at Grasse Gare Routiere which I did. Wow! When I presented my ticket I didn’t have to pay any more money so I went from the hotel to Grasse central to Nice on 1€. It had only cost me 2€ the day before to go from Cannes to Grasse. No wonder the buses are well patronised. Not only that (pay attention Auckland) but the services are integrated and easy to switch from one to the other.

The trip between Grasse and Nice was lovely: the houses and leafy sections climbing up and down the hillsides, glimpses of the Mediterranean. The properties are larger and have a great lifestyle I think. The french who are not in apartments, like to grow things like vegetables, flowers and trees and fruit, more-so than New Zealanders. They seem to appreciate the quality of life that brings them. Everywhere there are trees yet in NZ we seem hell-bent on destroying them in our urban areas. The bus rumbled through many leafy tunnels which I appreciated in the growing heat.

Ah Nice. It’s big and beautiful and not as brash as I expected. In fact, as I wandered around the city today I found I liked it more and more. Where are the playboys with the bling? Not a one to be found. I wasted 1 ½ hours trying to get to my hotel. I called two separate taxis at two locations but none ever arrived. I had heavy luggage but there was nothing for it but to hoof it AGAIN. At the Hotel Ascot the doorman gave me a map of Nice and away I went.

My reservation at Le Meurice was in order. My room wasn’t quite as nice as I had hoped but I’m coping. There is nothing for making a cup of tea, I must simply drink water from the bathroom. The shower is old and held together with tape. The stairs have a nasty habit of not having any light. You might start off with some but then you are plunged into darkness. It’s dangerous in my opinion. If you want to stay here bring a torch. There are no hotel instructions of any use in the room but the TV does work. There are no details of any possible room service so I’ll be going out early tomorrow for a cheap cuppa I think. I had to ask about WiFi, there are no instructions in the room but at least it’s free and doesn’t have a time limit.

Late lunch consisted of the cheapest salad I could find- just mesclun which still cost me $16NZ and then a wee bit of ice-cream on a hot day. Waiting service was very patchy.

I wandered around Old Nice which is lovely and quite crowded. Nice has so much choice for all budgets- you name it. I spoke briefly to a gold pirate who was more interested in watching le foot than in being a street statue. I continued on my way and experienced one of those rather weird adventure moments...

There was a small group of French police on those scooter thingees hanging around the market. I wondered what could be interesting about other people’s cast-offs. And there he was... surrounded by Secret Service men. Just another day at the markets with President Bill Clinton. French stall- holders were surprised but chuffed to see him. I became a stalking member of the Paparazzi. I got very close. He moved on. I walked ahead. Then, near his official car, he stopped to say hi to some Americans and receive a hug. One said thanks for being our President. Why not, I thought... I stepped forward, put my sunglasses on my head and waited for him to notice me in front of him. And he did, he hesitated and it seemed he wanted to shake my hand. I offered mine and said “American-New Zealand relations Sir” “You are from NZ?”, he said, “Yes” I said. “Where?” he added. I replied Auckland. “ It’s a great country”, he added and then he walked off to his car. But he did shake my hand (his was soft and warm), our eyes met and we had a ‘moment’. I was so pissed off I had no one to take a picture on my camera. Somewhere on quite a few cameras there are photos of me and Bill but not on mine, Bugger!

I’m hoping I can access a day pass tomorrow to hop on and hop off buses along the Cote D’Azur. I want to spend time in the village of Eze and the town of Menton near the Italian border. Tonight is just writing and chilling out in my room, eating some fruit for my dinner and the left-over mini-baguette from breakfast in Grasse. I can get by on the minimum when necessary.

Well, what will tomorrow bring? Another adventure I hope.


Defogger said...

Hey Frances, it has taken some reading, but I have finally caught up on your adventures. Such fun, and the writing is great. If I was rude I might as if Bill offered you a cigar, but I would never do that... Wishing you loads of sunshine, and the chance to take in the best that Frances has to offer in the final days. See you soon.

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