Postcard from the Riviera – III

I originally planned on writing a four part story of our travels, but I suspect you are starting to get more than a bit bored with this topic, so I’ll probably end the series with this last posting and move on to other matters. After all, it’s not like I’m withholding some suspenseful ending of an elaborate mystery, right? If any of you feel cheated by my decision, let me know. I’ll take it under advisement. For now, here is the finale of the Riviera Postcard.
 

POSTCARD FROM THE RIVIERA – III

 

Before departing from Italy, we made a stop in Genoa to visit its gothic cathedral, see the restored home of Christopher Columbus, stroll through a Saturday street market, and have our last Italian gelato before crossing the French border. Genoa deserved a lot more attention than the two hours our itinerary permitted, but you can’t do everything in a limited period of time. When we travel, we like to keep the number of hotels we stay in down to two or three at the most, and take day trips from those locations. This type of schedule keeps us from having to pack and unpack, ultimately saving a lot of time, allowing more energy for sightseeing.

 

Soon we were back on the road, driving on the Grand Corniche above the Principality of Monaco where Grace Kelly met her tragic demise. (Her tomb, inside the cathedral of the city, is still festooned with garlands of fresh flowers, a testament to the enduring attraction of the fairy tale princess on the public’s imagination.) We would come back to visit Monaco and Monte Carlo another day, so we drove by the famous “Rock” on which the palace stands, and in short time, the breath-taking vista of Nice with its curving coastline, famous harbor and azure water was spread out before us. Sunset found us cruising down the elegant Promenade des Anglais, past the justifiably famous Hotel Negresco, to the Hotel New York, our Nice headquarters. Waiting for us at the hotel was my favorite poet and his bride, who arrived from Paris via the TGV a few hours ahead of us, and who were, to our great delight, spending the next four days with us.

 

That night we had two birthdays to celebrate. Dave, Miki’s friend from Florida was turning his odometer, and Linda, a lovely retired lady from Tennessee, who left home to avoid a big family birthday brouhaha. Determined not to let these milestones pass unnoticed, we conspired with the hotel staff and members of our tour to make the day memorable. Liz, one of the sparkplugs of our group, had the brilliant idea of passing out postcards to everyone following our visit to Elba for each person to send birthday wishes to Dave, signed from Paolina. This resulted in such gems as “David, where have you been? I’m waiting for you. I’m horizontal. Paolina” You get the gist. Everyone got into the spirit, and the cards were slipped under Dave’s door after midnight. At dinner, I made a little speech congratulating the celebrants on having survived another turn of our little planet around the sun, the staff brought out two cakes with lit candles, we sang the appropriate songs, then the birthday girl received congratulatory kisses from all the men, youngest in line first, and the birthday boy got the same from all the ladies, oldest in line first. (No, you first, my dear…I’m sure I’m younger.)

 

The following morning found us back in Monaco, visiting the cathedral, watching the noontime changing of the guards at the palace, having lunch in the gardens over looking the marina filled with yachts, the smallest of which were about 100 feet, prompting Fran to comment, “there is a lot of money in the harbor.” We stopped by to see the Casino in Monte Carlo with no less than four Ferraris parked in front, giving Miki and Stephanie the opportunity to donate a few euros to the local economy. Personally, I studied too much math to gamble, but they enjoyed their brief visit. I would have liked to have taken a tour of the oceanographic museum set up by Prince Albert I, a remarkable scientist and statesman, located on the grounds of the palace, but again, time constraints did not permit this luxury.

 

As we walked around Monte Carlo, we noticed the numerous concrete flower boxes being readied for the annual Formula-1 Grand Prix of Monaco to be held next month.  Ever since the Englishman Williams Groover won the first Monaco Grand Prix in 1929, each weekend of the Ascension holiday finds the sometimes wide, sometimes narrow streets of the city, punctuated by hairpin turns, come to life with the noise of roaring motors, as cars fly through at speeds of over 150 miles an hour in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators from all over the world.

 

In the afternoon, we drove back to Nice in order to visit the Russian Cathedral of St. Nicolas with its colorful onion dome spires. It dates from the Belle Époque, and was built by none other than Tsar Nicholas II. Afterwards, we had a little time to wander around Nice on foot, stroll along the main shopping boulevard into the imposing square at the end of rue Massena with its statues (lit up from within) that change color every minute, by the spouting fountain with its mythical figures, and on to the Promenade des Anglais, past the Cabaret du Casino Ruhl and its associated glitter, before cool winds and cumulative travel fatigue shepherds us back to our hotel.

 

Omitted: Aix-en-Provence, Grasse, Cannes, St. Paul de Vence, and the end of our trip.

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11 Responses to Postcard from the Riviera – III

  1. Marge says:

     
    Please, Jorge; finish your narrative.
    To call this finished would be akin to ripping the final chapter from a wonderful novel.
    With recollections of your photos in mind, I was there, too.
    It would be nice to finish the trip.
    I hope you\’ll reconsider your decision.
    Marge
     
     

  2. Mei's says:

    Hi Jorge, finish your plan, my English is not good enough to understand all your writing, but I enjoy it and I like your writing, its so…..
    I don\’t know much about french, but I do remember some town and city that you mention in your trip, I did some search before i got this place, I was thinking to buy over there, but put off with the language. Love to see you finish the part 4. Take care, Mei

  3. Beth says:

    I may not make a long comment but I have thoroughly enjoyed being taken away by words and enjoying someone else\’s dream vacation.  Please continue.

  4. Sarah says:

    Oh yes, tell the ending, Jorge!  Most of us will not make it over there, and your words conjure the places well.  How does it feel to be back home?  Most vacations, one is glad to be home again, but I wonder about this one……

  5. Holy says:

    Under advisement indeed.  Everyone is being much too polite – allow me to be more direct.  You have strict orders to continue your travel stories, young man, is that understood?!  And you can\’t skip Aix-en-Provence, Cannes, et al – you rob of us the penultimate days of your journey. :)Sounds like a lovely and somewhat leisurely time spent in the south of France and Monaco.  The Monte Carlo casino was the first one I ever visited…I didn\’t gamble either. I wasn\’t so much impressed by all the cars parked out front as I was by the dress code and all the yachts we strolled by on our way back to our hotel from the casino.  It was like having a peeping tom glimpse into a whole other life.Have your poet and his new bride been able to travel around Europe much?Hope all is well otherwise.  Happy Thursday.

  6. Holy says:

    PS – I\’ve been perusing through the 1000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler\’s Life List – and I notice many of your stops and visits are in there.

  7. Kathryn says:

    Finish it! If someone is bored, they will come back later, or they can skim or they can do whatever. Do what gives you joy -and writing this can bring back the feelings you had while on the trip!

  8. Aimee says:

    i enjoyed this…can\’t wait for more…feel like i was there…♥~♥ :oD the shortest distance between two people is a smile… :oD ♥~♥ 

  9. nodope says:

     
    Goodmorning,
     
    In the absence of a guestbook, I\’ll hail you from here. Thanks for visiting and for your kind words. Yes there do seem to be some folks in common here too. It\’s Saturday, sunny and fair… perfect!
     
    C Ya

  10. Barb says:

    You must finish this Jorge.. many of us are enjoying it so much,
    most importantly you are ..as you wrote all these descriptive  words
    and took us on your journey:) This is fascinating..BE Well
    Barb

  11. Bittersweet on-the-hill. says:

    Jorge,
    This was a delightful read.  I\’m envious…..envious in a good way.  I\’ll have to read your earlier entries on your trip. I thoroughly enjoyed Calvin Trilling\’s book on "About Alice."  I was disappointed when the read was over. I\’m sure that many have the same reaction; I can write like that.  Deceptively simple and beautifully written. It was my first exposure to his writing and I must say I will return.
    Our weather has been delightful. Two weeks of incredibly nice weather. I became so used to it that now that the temps have reverted back to more normal temperatures that I\’m disappointed.  But I expect that within two weeks we\’ll be were I can start taking out the outdoor furniture.
    I am well…….and hope the same with you and family.  Enjoy spring…..it is a joyous time of year.    Bittersweet

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