Saturday, April 5, 2008
the mediterranean coast
nice was nice, not very nice, just nice. we got there in the evening and everything was lit up in the glow of neon, which is always a bit shady looking. the beach is really just black stones, not sand, but i think the europeans will take what they can get as far as beaches go. the water, though, was as blue as any i had ever seen. we decided to take a day trip from nice to monaco and see this little ritzy nation, that of princess grace kelly. it was also nice, but somewhere where the only way to get your foot into any worthwhile door is to have billions (or maybe just millions) of dollars in a bank account under your name. so, we just climbed around in their gardens and tried to go to their aquarium, found out that they wont accept our student ids unless they said 2008 on them, and then we refused to pay 12.50 euro each (!) for entrance. Overall, the french coast is just not for budget travellers.
Well, neither is the italian coast, but its a bit better and more necessary to see. After nice we hopped on multiple painstakingly slow regional trains (6 hours to go 120 miles) to get to vernazza, rick steves favorite of the cinque terre towns. it was home to me. the peaches and pinks and salmons of the walls stacked on top of one another and the sheer rock cliffs. the house wine and the pasta and pizza and the frutta di mare. oh, italy! the first day we sat around, savored our first italian meal and relaxed. the second day we took a train to the furthest town away and planned to hike back to our town, vernazza. the sun was at our backs, the water was sparkling like a moonless northern sky and the towns sat atop their hilltop homes like proud soldiers on the lookout. after we got back we made ourselves some prosciutto sandwiches and laid out on our patio, overlooking the sea on the opposite side of the town. lying there, the sun laid atop my closed eyes, making me see pink, and the wind kissed my cheeks and i heard the waves crash stories down below. i met an older lady there, a former travel writer for all the major us and canadian newspapers, who told me to follow my bliss and i will find work that i love. she said it is not a moment of epiphany that finds it for you, only a slow construction of a lifestyle, and then you find your work on the front page of the la times and you know this is where you want your life to be. well, lady, i hope im as lucky as you were. but it was great advice, and i am just beginning to understand this statement - follow your bliss - and my understanding is coming through moments like these.
overall, the coast was too expensive for us, but well worth things seen and done. and italy has my heart, sorry france.