East of Eden. I mean Nice. East of Nice.

With our exploring west of Nice done, it was time to tackle east of Nice with day trips to Èze and Monaco.

Èze was up first. We took the train into Èze-sur-Mer, which is along the coast, but the village we wanted to see was way up at the top of one of the hills. I think they are hills, I don't think they are big enough to be considered mountains. Maybe foothills? Anyway. Neitzsche spent some time in Èze and travelled a goat path between the two parts of the village, which has now been named the Neitzsche Path and is open for hiking. It started as a gently sloping asphalt path before quickly turning into concrete steps, which made way for crumbling concrete steps by the halfway point, which then transitioned into rocks. The total elevation was about 400m and we finished in about 50 minutes. We stopped fairly frequently as the views were really beautiful, both of the sea and of the ravine between the foothills. Once we reached the village, we continued climbing up to the Jardin Exotique where we were rewarded with even more gorgeous views and lots of cacti. Èze was founded by the Romans so it had even more of an Italian feel than the rest of the places we visited.  We explored the old village's streets, which were really narrow alleyways, that all twisted and turned back onto each other so it was hard to tell what you had seen and what you hadn't. At one point, I think the alley we were in was a hotel with the rooms opening directly onto the alley. EDP picked up a small painting from a French artist of the steeple of the church in the village. The colours are really vibrant and it's lovely to have something from a place we visited. 

We were back in Nice earlier than expected so we threw on our swimsuits for a few more hours on the beach with our books. Neither of us ventured into the water this time around but one of us did take the time for some tarte tatin and a wee nap.  Yeah, it was me.  Once the wind picked up and the sun started to hide away, we packed up and headed back to the hotel before heading to a lovely little Italian restaurant that had a really lovely tarte au citron.

Our last day, which was also Thanksgiving, was spent in Monaco.  We got an early start on the day since we had a lot to pack in. We started at the Jardin Exotique, which was much larger than Èze's and had amazing views out over Le Rocher and the ports.  Once we had our fill of cacti and lovely vistas, we headed onto Le Rocher to take in the old city.  First up was the Palais Princier de Monaco, where the royal family still resides, so the portion open to the public was limited but included the throne room where Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III got married and the rooms where large state gatherings are held. From there, we headed over to Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée, which was beautiful in a way that we weren't used to seeing cathedrals. It had the same vaulted ceilings and archways we've seen many times but wasn't covered in marble, the stone was simply polished. It was less opulent but had a really striking effect that I didn't expect. We also made it to the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, where I really enjoyed the aquarium, particularly the turtles. The building is absolutely stunning, both inside & out plus the views from the roof were pretty incredible. We got to see lots of whale skeletons, along with old-timey diving equipment and lots of stuffed birds.  After some lunch, we picked up a path that wound through Jardins St-Martin to head down to the main port to check out the ridiculously huge yachts. More than one had a helicopter pad and one even had a helicopter on its helicopter pad. I don't even have a helicopter, let along a yacht to land it on. We walked along the water over to the Japanese gardens where I unintentionally fooled a large number of koi into thinking I was going to feed them (I only wanted their photograph) before heading to what was EDP's highlight for the day - the Monte Carlo casino. The casino's atrium is typically open to the public but they were setting up for some sort of event so there wasn't a lot to see when you went in but the casino itself, which we did take in, was really beautiful. It was early in the day - around 3 - so there weren't very many people inside and we headed into the main gaming room where we started with a Thanksgiving round of champagne/kir royals. One of us spilled his drink when he was coming close to finishing it and had it replaced by the bartender. The other one of us then regretted not being a Spilly McSpillyPants and having no free refill.  Then it was time for a bit of light gambling.  The gaming room only had roulette and blackjack, the latter of which required a minimum €25 bet. Buy in? Ante? I'm not really familiar with the lingo.  EDP wanted to play something but that was a little rich for his blood so we settled at a roulette table where he quickly hit on one of his numbers, multiplying the stack of chips in front of him. He traded some in for another colour so that I could play a bit, too, which I did by alternating the minimum between red and black. This winning strategy soon had me up €40 but by the time EDP had finished playing, I was only up €20. Since he was the source of my capital, I returned all my winnings to him.  Finally, it was time to head back to Nice for one last dinner (which was the largest Greek salad I've ever had in my life...) and getting a good night's sleep before our flights home.  

The trip home was uneventful, we were able to get seats together for both our flights. When we got to the airport and through security, I had a small panic attack because there were TONNES of cancelled flights.  Ours was not but there were a lot of flights within Europe that were cancelled. A quick check on Twitter revealed nothing terrible had happened to ground flights so we grabbed some breakfast before heading to our gate where we figured out there was a national strike against French labour reforms. Which included one of the air traffic controller unions. We're not sure if we were prioritized to get out since we were an international flight or if it was just dumb luck that we weren't cancelled but we weren't complaining.  Anyway, now we're home so it's time to start the process of going through through the photos.  I think I only took about 750, let's see how long it takes me to get through them all :)

Norway? No Way!

Norway? No Way!

Three More Beautiful Days