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Published: April 2nd 2015
I've put this entry from Marseille, since that's where I spent most of my time off of public transportation today. It's just as well, since I've only been in Nice for about 30 minutes at this point, but I've already made it to my hotel room and have time to write up this little thingy for all my devoted fans.
Today was the longest day of travel I hope to have at all on this trip. I got on the bus in Andorra at 7AM, and my train arrived in Nice, France, at 10:15PM. I gotta give a shout out to the Hotel Festa Brava in Andorra - I went to check out at 6:20AM, about 40 minutes before breakfast started. But they opened up the breakfast room for me and made some hot cocoa and gave me all the regular fare. That's some service. As far as the rest of my travel goes, there were no hitches, and me and my bags are all safely away for the night in the hotel room. I'm heading to Monaco tomorrow - my only reason for staying in Nice is because it's 1/10 the price of Monaco, trains from here to Monaco
are less than 4 euros, and they leave every 30 minutes or so, so I can basically get up whenever I want and there will be a train shorty after I get to the station.
I managed to capture a couple of nice scenic pictures from the train, and I've posted them here for you all to enjoy. Since there wasn't much to tell as far as touristy things, I thought I'd give some of my observations about just travelling today. First-class seats are amazing. My first and last trains were in first class, and until I rode in second class on the middle train, I didn't realize how good I had it. Reclining seats, ample leg room, personal power outlets and trash cans... The journey from Montpellier to Marseille in second class for 2 hours was kinda sorta miserable. But there are no other options for that route. Train travel is pretty stress-free, and you just can't beat the peace of mind for yourself and loved ones compared to flying.
Next, Spain takes its train travel much more seriously than France. In Spain, I had to show them my ticket to get into the departures area, put all my bags through an x-ray machine, and then show my ticket again before they would let me into the boarding zone. In France, nobody ever looked or asked for my ticket on that 2nd-class train. For the last train, I did have to scan the ticket, but that was it. No x-rays, no pat downs, no other concerns. I will also say that the Barcelona train attendants were pretty rude when I told them I had an SNCF ticket to France - that's the national French railways, and my email confirmation told me to find the machine and print the tickets at the station. All I got were head shakes and "that's impossible here" from the Spanish folks. At least they let me use the screen shot of the ticket on my ipad as proof. Once I got to my first French connection, I went to one of their machines, and voila. Instant tickets, and validation.
I'm staying at the Hotel Univers in Nice, and it's about a 10-minute walk from the train station. I got to stroll past some Gothic-looking church on my way, so I'll check that out in the daylight tomorrow. I don't know how much time I'll devote to walking around Nice, since Monaco is my true destination here. As far as my hotel goes, I hit the mother lode: queen-sized bed, big bathroom with a huge tub, balcony in the bedroom AND one in the bathroom... Plus the wifi is great. I believe the breakfast here costs 14 euros, so I guess it isn't perfect. Anyway, I'm going to get some rest - these bones are weary, and there's no stopping me now!
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