Boating, Beaching, and hanging out with Canadian Frenchies

Published: June 30th 2007
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Today I took the train to Antibes with Nicolas' friends who were also from Montreal. They were a couple and very mushy, quite annoying actually (also for Nicolas). The couple was late because the girl had something wrong with her eyes (they were itchy) and so she went to the pharmacist. Nicolas warned me about her being a hypochondriac. Anyway, while Nicolas and I bought our tickets, I looked over at this woman who had crumpled to the floor and was crying hysterically. It looked pretty pathetic and she looked very lost, mentally and physically. I came up to her and said "Do you speak English?". She said yes and I asked her what was wrong. She had missed her train to Marseille and wasn't going to make her flight. I told her that it was only 10am and that trains leave the station in Nice twice every hour to Marseille. Since her flight was that evening, I told her she should wait 25minutes and catch the next one...She was convinced however, that there was only one train to Marseille each day so my info stopped her uncontrollable sobbing. I talked to her more and she was from Finland and had been on the road traveling nonstop for 16 hours. I totally understood why she was frusterated and crying. She got up off the floor and I wished her some luck. Hopefully when I travel and have a breakdown somebody can reassure me as well.

We arrived in Antibes and I could already tell I liked the city just by the feel and its small town characteristics. At the tourist office, the lady suggested this boat excursion of an hour and a half for only 12 euros. At first I was so-so about it because it sounded too touristy, but it also seemed cool because the boat had a see-through bottom so we could climb down into the boat and look at the bottom of the sea, tropical fish, etc. The boat departed from Juan Les Pins, a suburb of Antibes, so we decided to walk there since we had time before the 1:30 departure.

Juan les Pins was super ritzy and practically the whole strip of beach was privately owned. Entrance fees were anywhere from 19 euros to 50 euros per person. I have to admit though, you paid not only for the spot on the beach but also service, a soft recliner and the more expensive ones also served you an inclusive gourmet lunch. ooh lala. Each beach section had a different theme and if you had money, why would you go to the public, crowded beach with dirtier sand? That was my only option, but hey, it's better than no beach at all. =)

The boat excursion was super cool and definitely not a tourist trap. Even better, the boat didn't have a lot of people so we all had room to go downstairs at the same time. No line waiting = perfect. The driver spoke in French, so it was kind of hard to understand him over the crackly loudspeaker (I even have a hard time understanding English from those). Nicolas could understand so he translated when I didn't catch the facts. We passed a palace hotel for only the rich and famous. 10,000 euros per night per person for the hotel suite. GULP. The regular rooms (naturally, the equivalent of the best suite a regular 5 star hotel could offer) were 1000 euros a night per person. 50 euros for a small club sandwich (wait..isn't it just bread..veggies..meat..cheese...5 dollars worth?) and 100 euros for a salade nicoise - I paid 8 euros for mine. haha! We also passed the house of the people that own BMW. Not too shabby.

Looking underwater was also a great experience - it looked like a great place to snorkel and go diving. I saw large schools of fish that were at least 10 inches long. There were also little shimmery fish that swam in huge schools as well - they looked like an underwater beaded curtain (maybe they were sardines? no clue). Along with fish were medusa jellyfish that periodically would brush against the boat's window.

After the boat ride, we decided to camp otu and find room on one of the small public beaches. It was a tight fit, but soon the people in front of me left. Juan les Pins beach has soft sand which was a nice break from Nice's not-so-nice rocky beds. The two boys went off to snorkel which left me and the other girl by ourselves. I tried to talk to her on the train but she said literally 2 words to me and turned away. When I put my towel down, she put hers down 3 meters from mine - a very good lets-not-have-a-conversation distance. So I didn't talk to her once on the beach and while I relaxed and slept, she sat upright, keeping her clothes on over her swimsuit and watching her boyfriend the whole time. I hope she's enjoying her vacation...

The boys had finished snorkeling and I had gone waist deep in the water - it was too cold for me since I has been out in the sun for a while. We packed up our stuff and although I was sun tired, I could have explored the old city of Antibes, but the couple wanted to go to dinner with Nicolas. I decided to go back with them and return to Antibes another day when I had more energy.

Back at the hostel, i had diner and chatted with my roomie, Melanie from New Zealand. I told her about the sort of artisan flea market in the evening and since she was only in Nice for a night, I went with her to see it again. She wanted some gifts for friends and I sort of did too but wanted something small and light since I had a long ways left to travel. I settled on some Provence handmade soaps - what the area is famous for. You know the soap store in malls called L'Occitane? Everything there is from Provence and first I thought it was just an American store but I actually saw one here in Nice. So it's the real thing.

Melanie and I then stopped at that ice cream place I saw on a previous day and I decided to try two very weird and unique flavors. The guy said he couldn't give me a tester of avocado ice cream but said that he was Brazilian and that they only eat avocados with sugar and not salt. I decided to go for it and get a small scoop of avocado and one of guava. The guava was the best fruit ice cream I've ever had and the avocado was funky the first few bites but it grew on me. Melanie wasn't a fan of the avocado but said she's happy she tried some. It's not every day you can try such weird flavors...


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