CROSSING BORDERS for the lowlow

9 of us hopped on Bus100 in Nice, France on a Sunday, paid 1.50 euros each, enjoyed a 30 minute scenic ride and BOOM, there we were in another country. But not just any other country, thee sovereign, MONACO. The city center and the Monte Carlo beach area were quiet. I guess they participate in “lazy Sundays” there as well. Except the people in Monaco can afford to be lazy and I mean that in the literal sense. You ever get that feeling that things are way out of your reach, financially? Well, that was me all day while in Monaco. I should have known when I stepped off the bus and saw all the high end clothing stores, caviar restaurants, and all of that sort. We walked to the top of a parking garage and saw the city and palace from afar. We walked down towards the beach and there was a beautiful Japanese Tea Garden by the shore. Across the street from that was a strip of car dealerships: Rolls Royce, Ferrari & Bentley. Here is where we began to see some signs of life in the city.

 

First sign of life was this man getting in the back of a Rolls Royce and a yellow Lamborghini waiting behind it. We’re crossing the street while this is happening and asking ourselves, “I wonder how it feels to have cars that people take pictures of all the time?” That’s the norm there so I guess they don’t experience it as much. They must have been flattered and could have quickly figured out that we were not ‘locals’. There were also a lot of Porsche’s and occasionally cute buggies and Fiats.

 

Fact of life: Where there is food, there are people. Second sign of life was down the strip of restaurants. The cheapest food item at all the open restaurants was the pizza which started at around 13 euros for a personal pan. Thank God I had packed snacks or my stomach would have hated me that day. Usually if you are super hungry, you would do anything to get food but there was no way I was bringing myself to buy a 13 euro pizza that would probably not fill me up. The others agreed and decided to buy a sandwich or snacks from a local super market a little ways down the road. Monaco is beautiful but I realized that if food is out of my budget, that is not the place for me. 2nd fact of life in one post. Also, maybe it’s just me but if I spend money on something that I know I could have gotten at a better deal or didn’t really need, that will come back to haunt me at some point. Usually when I am down to my last dime, I start to reflect on my poor decision making skills. I’m not at school anymore where most of my meals are prepaid for or my groceries last.

 

 

 Third sign of life was across from the super market (of course signs of life in it as well since that’s another place with food). There was an ice skating rink set up and people were gathered around it either skating or watching. We watched while we ate.

 

To say the least, I am glad I did not even think of buying that 13 euro pizza in Monaco. You know why? I got a 7.70 euro train ticket to Italy. Granted it was a part of Italy that is 1 hour away but still, è l’ITALIA! Myself, Allison, Ariana and Lydia gave into unhealthy, heavenly tasting, guilt-free temptations during that day trip. First stop was Ventimiglia and before we left that city, I ate a delicious Italian pizza for 8 euros. Just thinking about how that 13 euros would have hurt makes me scoff. My time with the girls while in Ventimiglia was spent doing a lot of ‘window shipping’ (well not exactly because these were open markets in the street) and exploring the old part of town in Ventimiglia. I loved the designs of the churches we walked into and the alleys we walked through. The contrasting view of the palm trees around the city but the snow-capped mountains in the background was breathtaking.

 

Bizarre story before I move on to the second town we visited in Italy: We saw this older man earlier during the day and when he said “Ciao” we nodded our heads in response. On our way back to the train station at around 12:30pm, we saw him again. We stopped somewhere to get water and when he saw that we had stopped close by, he followed us. He began speaking in Italian and I understood a bit of what he said but it seemed very bizzare to me so I gave him an inquisitive expression and said “Quoi?” to him. He realized we spoke French and being in a part of Italy that is very close to France, most of the Italians can speak and/or understand a good amount of French. So he repeated himself with a mixture of the two languages. This time I fully understood him but I still had an inquisitive facial expression as I looked at him and then the girls and laughed. He began to repeat himself thinking that I did not understand him. He was asking if he could buy a piece of my hair. Yup. He said it was very pretty and I told him I appreciated the compliment but he could not have my hair. He tried to carry on the conversation, but I was like we need to go. What’d he want to do, clone me? Keep the hair in a glass jar as a collectible? Weirdo.
The train ride to San Remo from Ventimiglia is approximately 20 minutes and it cost 2.80 euros. First order of business when we got to the center of the city in San Remo was to buy gelato. Ask me what this season of my life tastes like: my first real scoops of mango and strawberry gelato is what I’d say. The amount of walking we did that day washed away the ‘guilty’ part of ‘guilty pleasure’.
I noticed two things though: 1)They don’t really believe in traffic lights. I saw one traffic light throughout the whole day. That also could mean that pedestrians are more cognizant when they cross and that they have to be a bit aggressive to squeeze in a chance to cross during rush hour when the cars don’t necessarily want to stop. 2) The town still sticks to the Italian tradition of eating at set times. Many of the stores and restaurants were closed from around 1-3pm and during that time, the workers were on break. Later on, we wanted to eat dinner before leaving to go back to Nice and one restaurant that our teacher had recommended was not serving when we walked in at 6:30p but would start serving at 7pm. Luckily, there was an open restaurant across from that one. My fettuccini was amazing and again with the Italian temptations, I had a dessert.
All in all, I am proud of the girls and I for being able to communicate as clearly as we could in French, Spanish (courtesy of Ariana) and English—Frespanglish—to the people of Ventimiglia and San Remo. It ended on a sweet note, literally.
Ciao e Arrivederci!

 

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