Daughter Molly and I started our current adventure on Friday, June 13. Our flight from Chicago to Amsterdam was delayed more than three hours, which caused us to miss our connection to Geneva. We arrived in Geneva six hours later than planned. By the time we got the rental car, it was after 5:00 pm, but the car rental people assured us that we could still make it to Nice, France where we had hotel reservations for the night. They recommended that we take the Italian route, as it was faster and cheaper.
We stopped at about 7:00 for a sandwich, still in France–lovely smoked salmon and cucumbers on a whole-wheat baguette, with strong coffee to keep us awake.
By 9:00 and about $75 in tolls later (this was the cheaper route?) it was getting dark, and we were only in Turin, which was less than halfway to Nice. We spent an hour driving the streets of central Turin in search of a hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Majestic, near the main rail station. We had a nice room on the second floor with a a window that opened on to the noisy street below.
This morning we set off a second time for Nice. Had I known how much time we were going to spend in Italy, I would have tried to expand my six-word Italian vocabulary before we left.
We stopped this morning at an automated, attendantless gas station. The first question was what kind of gas to select, since the categories are not the same as at home. Then there was the question of how to actually GET the gas. There was credit card machine, but it refused my American, chipless credit card. The machine also accepted Euro notes. The machine happliy gobbled up my 20 Euro note and then silently refused to dispense any fuel. An older Italian man stopped for gas, but he spoke no English. None of my six words of Italian helped convey my dilemna, and I lapsed into Spanish, which he seemed to understand at least in part. But alas, he had no solution for us. After he left, we pulled around to the pump he had used, inserted a five Euro note, and then another, and got ten Euros worth of gas. The moral of this story is never put a 20 Euro note in a machine when a five will do.
Our route today took us through an extremely mountainous, but beautiful part of Italy and France. There were many, many tunnels, and I was very glad we had not tried to travel this route at night.
By mid-day we reached Monte Carlo, and spent some time wandering the streets of the “Old” City. We also found the Cathedral where Princess Grace and Prince Rainier were married. We had lunch at a great open air restaurant near the Palace Gardens before we started the last leg of the trip to Nice. Leaving Monaco, we took a tunnel big enough that it had both a fork and a roundabout in it. The right fork and the roundabout brought us to exactly the place that Google maps wanted us to be to get to our hotel in Nice.
I am so happy to be with Molly. These last two days have not been for the faint-hearted traveler. We had what I thought were good maps, but it turns out the road numbers on the maps do not match the signs on the roads. Still, we were lost surprisingly few times–just unsure where we were most of the time. We went back and forth between France and Italy so many times that when we got to Monaco I was still using my six-word Italian vocabulary rather than my 25-word French vocabulary.
We now settled at our hotel in Nice. We will be in France for the next few days–unless we decide to go back to Italy tomorrow before we head to Provence on Tuesday. Buon giorno y bon soir.