NICE – 7/15 – Monday at the crack of dawn, we sleepily checked out of St. Christopher’s Inn and made our first of three trains Nice bound. Definitely slept through the first train ride- Bastille Day wears a person out I tell ya! Despite having the train route from hell, we did eventually arrive in Nice. Without much frustration we navigated to our next hostel, Villa St. Exurey, which was not too far from the station. This was a really good hostel- we had a large mixed room with like a dozen other Swiss girls. They had a daily deal where you could get a bowl of pasta if you buy a 2.50 Euro beer, needless to say that was our dinner for that night.
Throwing my better judgment to the wind, we finished off Julian’s chocolate raspberry vodka on the floor of our room and subsequently heeded Rick Steves’ advice by starting our night off at Wayne’s, what he describes as: “a happening spot for the younger, English-speaking backpacker crowd.” If asked to describe Wayne’s in one word, I would have to say: sweltering. While at several points in time I felt like I was on death’s doorstep due to the heat, we were fortunate enough to meet a lovely group of gentlemen from… Holland? Sweden? …Memory evades me on that particular detail, but they were nice and bought us drinks and thankfully didn’t track us down on the “dance floor” (picture dozens of people dancing on picnic table tops) after we dipped post-bathroom visit. Later we made a pit stop at a pizzeria and then went to some random club that was mediocre at best. They were throwing out free glow sticks so I could appreciate that.
7/16 – On Tuesday Bri and I attempted to go to the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, but alas Rick Steves’ led us astray for the first time by leading us to believe that it was a free museum—evidently they had a temporary exhibit that made the entire museum have an entrance fee and we were just not in the mood for hidden fees. Instead we ran a few errands around Nice and then met up with Cass and Taylor to stroll France’s largest flower and fruit outdoor market that happens to be located right in the heart of Nice. Cue much need beach time! Just a word to the wise, the French Riviera is breathtakingly beautiful, but the rocky beaches are hard on the back. After the other three bronzed and I burned, we got lunch salads to go from what I will refer to as Salad Heaven as none of us can remember the actual name of the place.
As we were eating our salads in the train station and waiting for our train to Milan, a random Gypsy lady came over to us and proceeded to beg for food for her nearby child. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t eat while this lady continued to stare us down after we politely declined to donate. Hence, after a few minutes we moved down several benches toward the end of the train terminal and then shortly boarded the train in one of the last train cars. What happened next can only be summed up as The Train Scam. We got scammed plain and simple. The four of us had just gotten on the train when four large males and one female stood up out of good seats and offered them to us to sit in, which we then did. They asked to see our EU Rail passes and passports, which we gave to them as they were all wearing the train worker nametags and we were kind of caught off-guard at the time. The largest man quickly informed us that we had neglected to fill-in the date of travel in advance, and that the corresponding fine was 25 Euro each. We eventually handed them over the cash and made sure we got all the passes and passports back. They went to the train car behind ours then, and at the next stop hopped off the train. In hindsight, we had all ignored our intuition and several red flags that screamed SCAM but what can ya do? Needless to say, we were quite perturbed for the first leg of our journey to Milan. After a train transfer right after entering Italy, we thankfully had a different style of train with Harry Potter style cars so we commandeered one all to ourselves, turned the lights off, feasted on trail mix, and watched Bridesmaids on Taylor’s iPad. Later France!