20.08.2001 - 22.08.2001
Julie and Ollie try to look like they belong in Monaco
Staggered into Nice at 8 am, finding all the hostels full, so we stayed in yet another one-star, this one the mankiest yet, with skanky wallpaper and a bidet in the corner of the room.
In no mood for sightseeing after the hell night train, so we lazed about. Had dinner at Farouche Montmartre - the waitress was from Tramore. The cheese pasta was nice but the condiment platter was manky. Wandered down to the beach for an after-dinner stroll - got offered hash in a park nearby!
Returned to the manky hotel to have gin and tonic - fell asleep rapidly after the sleepless night before.
Myself and Julie in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Rolled out of bed in our one-star craphole in Nice around 11, leaving our backpacks there despite the hope of staying somewhere else for the night. Took a gratis 20 min train to Monaco - wowed at the wooden-panelled train station platform walls and marble walls in the tunnel to the exit!
Monaco is more touristy than we expected with more tacky-coloured buildings, but the yachts in the harbour and the cars parked beside the mall said it best - rich town.
Saw all things fishy in the Musée Océanographique, and noticed red-and-white F1-style kerbs on the roadside.
Had lunch beside the station - nice pizza, but the nice coffee was IR£3.50 for a cup. Ouch!
Back in Nice, and had a great swim in the sea; the sound of the water cracking over the pebbles as it rolls back into sea is oddly captivating.
Had several 'pichets' (1.2l jugs of beer) in Jonathan's in beautiful Viel ville (Nice's Old Town). We even played bingo! It's a strange story...
Stayed in our first hostel, Backpacker Chez Patrick, in a 6-bed dorm. Met an Australian who was waiting two days for the next bus on his ticket to Venice - maybe we are lucky!
My water bottle got dinged in such a way as to make it lean like the tower in Pisa. I remember this amazed me at the time!
Left Nice on the 9.40 train to border town Ventimiglia - brief scare sated when we realised Vintimille on the timetable was the same place 'en francais'! Discovered a IR£3-ish supplement is payable on high-speed Inter-City trains in Italy - must try avoiding them. Had lunch in Genoa - a ham and cheese panini with a black espresso (I asked for white coffee) for IR£2.80 - happy surprise!
On to Pisa, and a one-star hotel with a religious vibe was found after a half-hour search - we're around the corner from the mind-boggling Leaning Tower. The Cathedral beside it is almost as impressive too. Had a three-course meal, including a gorgeous bacon and egg flavoured starter spaghetti, for IR£11! Julie haggled almost a third off the price of a Senegalese bongo drum at a market - IR£20 down to IR£14. In my convent cell (hotel room) sweating in the 31-degree heat listening to Texas on Italian radio!