Hello all! Sorry I've been out of commission, the work load last week was ridiculous - 2 papers, a final for a short class and 2 take home tests! Anyways, I'm gonna do a run down of the last 10 days of traveling and working (skipping over the hours in the library) and post a few photos. There are way more pictures in the Traveling Spoon gallery if you want to take a peek!
Last weekend (jeeze, it really has been too long) was the weekend that I was supposed to go to Sicily with the school, but the trip got cancelled. We only found out the Monday before, so we scrambled to put together another trip. Originally Sara, Catherine, Kelsey and I wanted to go to the Amalfi Coast, but we were too late to book seats with any of the tour companies around here. There are 3 main ones: Florence For Fun, EuroAdventures and Bus2Alps. They offer overpriced but really easy trips to the fun destinations that all the American students in Florence want to go see. On Wednesday night, after doing some more research, I found a EuroAdventures trip to the French RIviera, so we booked it quick. Last Thursday after classes, the four of us stopped at a grocery store for some snacks and then headed over to the train station, where we boarded a coach bus with the rest of our travel group. The group was about 30 people, 12 of whom were from the same school - some Catholic college in Washington state that I had never heard of (they were surprised that I didn't know who they were... apparently they have a good basketball team... which means nothing to me). We brought wine in boxes (here they have them in liter sizes and in juice boxes!) and cheese and prosciutto and bread and salad; as soon as the bus was on the highway, we dug in! Its worth mentioning that the pre-packaged salads here are some of the most complicated things I have ever dealt with (second only to trying to set up wifi on my computer anywhere). First, you have to flip the whole container upside down and pop an internal dressing cup into the lettuce, then you have to pull of a plastic film that holds the mini-fork and napkin to the bottom, then you shake it all around and THEN you take the lid off. Needless to say, we didn't know any of that, and opened it and ate dry lettuce with our hands. The bus had a DVD player, and for the first stint we watched The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds... I had forgotten this scene, and I got a good chuckle out of it on the bus:
After a quick stop at the AutoGrill (the chain of rest stops on the Italian highways) we watched the Dark Knight... Heath Ledger, you are missed. May you rest in peace forever. We arrived at the hostel at around 1:30, and promptly were assigned to a room for 8 - the 4 of us, a pair of girls who traveled together, and 2 loners. One loner I affectionately titled Phlegmy - she hacked up a lung ever 20 minutes all night, woke up at 7 and started playing a game on her iPad (we switched to our own room, just the 4 of us the next night).
Friday we started off the day with crepes!
After breakfast, the whole trip went to Monaco. For those of you who don't know, Monaco is a Principality on the French Riviera. It is one of the richest districts in the world, and also one of the most beautiful. We happened to arrive during the International Yacht Show, where the largest personally owned yacht (575 ft, complete with 2 submarines, a tennis court, a basketball court and who knows what else) was docked. We walked up to the palace where the Prince and Princess of Monaco live, and got some amazing views of the 1/2 mile wide nation:
We also saw Princess Grace Kelly's tomb, in the national Cathedral
And I found another mosaic of my boyfriend... (sorry I'm such a goudie)
Then we headed back to Nice. That night, we ate at a traditional French Restaurant. I had a fish soup, served with chunks of crusty French baguette and homemade mayo (I actually ate it with a spoon, and no I don't think that's weird or gross. Homemade mayo is the nectar of the Gods - its smooth and creamy and lemony and garlicky and delicious, and I will figure out its secrets and learn how to make it), followed by a roasted chicken quarter covered with mushroom sauce and big chunks of mushrooms, ratatouille like you wouldn't believe, and for dessert nommed on Profiteroles (little puff pasteries, stuffed with vanilla ice cream, drowning in hot dark chocolate ganache). I must say, it was delicious, but I have absolutely fallen in love with the simple food of Tuscany. The French use a lot more butter, instead of olive oil, and most things have a sauce. In Florence, we eat more roasted meats and potatoes and vegetables, heart-warming and stomach filling pasta and fresh fresh fresh fruits and salads.
Saturday, we went to Cannes (where the film festival is every year) and although it was cloudy, we lay on the beach with a bottle of champagne and some pate and baguette. Catherine and I even managed to swim out to a buoy! After a long day at the beach, we had a delicious Moroccan meal - I had a chicken tagine with onions and raisins over potatoes. In case you were wondering, the Tagine actually refers to the dish that the meal is cooked in. It looks like this:
We went out later that night, but 8 Euro for a drink is more than I can stomach, so it was a pretty short night for me. The third day, we spent some time wandering around Nice, and then headed to Eze in Monaco where there is a famous parfumerie - soaps, perfumes and eau de toilette galore! Its a beautiful little provincial town, complete with all the things one would expect to see from this region:
Then we headed home, were I got to take a nice, hot shower and go to sleep in my bed. A weekend well spent!