The bus arrived in central Nice. I gathered my carry on belongings, determined to spend a couple of continuous days or more importantly nights in the city. Climbing down the steps of the bus my legs began to collapse under me like jelly. No wonder. Three nights spent sleeping on various buses had taken its toll.
Rather than walking I would now have to take a local bus the short distance up a steep hill to my hostel. Standing at the bus stop I noticed a small group of middle aged women waving protest banners. From what I could tell of the surroundings there did not appear much to protest about; they appeared well fed and nourished in their warm winter gear. Perhaps that was the problem; the more we have the more we want.
I had just travelled all the way from Morocco and all I wanted was sleep. My needs, like the Moroccan landscape, were stripped bare. Perhaps we should all be thankful for what we have. But then that is not human nature - greed.
After a refreshing sleep, the next morning I walked back down the steep hill to the ocean front. To my astonishment the beach was not of pure white, yellow or even black sand. There would be no feeling of sand touching your toes as you took off your shoes to feel the texture of nature on your feet. Instead there was only the crunching of peddles under the soles of my shoes.
Been the middle of winter the beach was relatively empty. I therefore had to imagine what the beach would be like in summer where hordes of people must vie for the attention of the sun. However, my imagination could not stretch that far. I could see no reason to lie on a crowded beach with peddles protruding up your bum surrounded by greed and the shallow surroundings.
Instead, I had a look around the centre of town and in particular the Cathedrale Orthodoxe Russe St Nicholas which translated means the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St Nicholas. This was, I imagine, an impressive miniature cathedral of what you may expect to see in St Petersburg or Moscow.
After taking a photo I was greeted by a person who tried a con my guidebook had forewarned me about.
“Look, do I look like I have just come off the last tourist bus. I’ve travelled the world you know – including Morocco. You are going to have to be more cunning than that if you want to rip me off. But if you have a game of hide the pebble under the peanut shell…”
No such luck.
I went to the train station to discover directions on how to travel to nearby Cannes. At the counter I opened my mouth, forgot my manners and started asking my question in English. After the third word had left my lips I knew I had made a fatal mistake. But I could not retract my rudeness. I then started to speak in my limited French, “Excuse Moi”.
From not understanding English the receptionist would now not even pay attention to my futile attempt at speaking her language. I looked to some of the other receptionists for support but to no avail. I was to be ignored. I felt as though I had just been castrated.
Perhaps I should ask for directions in German?
‘Can you tell me the way to Paris?’ must have been a common question as their neighbour over-ran France in the two previous world wars. I’m sure the French must have been willing to accept the English speaking blunders back then. Perhaps I should remind them of the Rainbow Warrior when their government entered New Zealand waters to bomb a Greenpeace boat which was rested within the Auckland harbour.
But my ranting and ravings in a foreign language would probably just get me committed.
I found other means to ascertain my information and caught a train to Cannes, a few kilometres down the road. I did not bother paying the train fare. I assumed the price included a charge for customer service and you have a pretty good idea of my impression of the service I had so far received.
In Cannes I walked along the beach which to my relief was sand based. I continued in the same direction, south and away from the train station. Climbing a local landmark, Le Suquet hill, I received a rewarding view at the top of the city below. Back down at sea level I walked along to the main cinema complex used for the annual film festival.
One day I may finish my film script which may have a minute chance of been shown amongst the glitz and glamour of a Cannes film festival. I came up with the original idea for the script while I was doing an incredibly menial job in London just before Christmas. It is amazing how ones mind wanders when it is bored beyond the bounds of reality.
The theme of the first draft revolved around the Lewis Carroll book, Alice in Wonderland. In the movie Alice has become a young adult who is gradually becoming mentally insane. A few years later, after the completion of about ten pages of the first draft, the plot somehow metamorphosed into been about God’s wrath and the destruction of the earth. I can’t tell you any more than this in case I reveal too much and spoil the experience for you when you eventually see the movies in 50 year’s time. In the interim I have included part of a scene from the movie as a poem entitled Beauty Is.
From Cannes I took the train back north, through Nice and then a few kilometres up the tracks to Monaco. I walked around the hills of the principality taking pictures of the port, filled with yachts that littered the harbour like plastic toys in a child’s bath tub.
I then walked down the hill to Monte Carlo assuming I was passing over some of the streets where the famous Grand Prix was held. I had a quick look in the casino to see if it compared to any in Las Vegas. Alas no, and I personally think James Bond lacks a bit of the human touch if he generally prefers to sip his martinis in Monaco rather than the gaudy splendour of Las Vegas.
Walking back up the hill I took a photo, in the growing darkness, of the Royal Palace. It was then back on the train to my hostel in Nice, hoping once again I wouldn’t be caught, having not paid my fare. It would have been a bad scene for all concerned. I would have been hard pressed to explain my error with my knowledge of the German language been even less than my knowledge of French.