This morning we continue on our journey through Europe having already reach our second week on the Topdeck Mega European Tour. Our departure this morning will be from the Catalonian city of Barcelona as we head east back into France to check out the sites of Nice and Monaco on the French Riviera. The tour will stay in the area for two nights before we head onto Italy, during this time we will have free time to explore the streets of Nice and rub shoulders with the rich and famous.
So far along this tour we started our journey back in London and have since made our way through to Paris where we spent our first two nights. Lauterbrunnen at the base of the Swiss Alps was our next stop where we experienced one of my favourite places on this entire trip calling the tallest peaks on Europe’s highest train. Leaving Switzerland we headed back into France and the small city of Avignon and now we depart from Barcelona this morning.
Barcelona to Nice – 08 May, 2012
That familiar catch cry again this morning as we are up and early for our departure from the Spanish city of Barcelona for another long day on the coach. The positive thing about the long trips on the coach is that it’s a good opportunity for most to have a sleep, the problem being when you actually start to fall asleep it’s time for the coach to stop for a fifteen minute rest break.
On our arrival into Nice our first stop is a Perfumery where we get a tour of the facilities and a run down on how the whole place operates. Of course it wouldn’t be complete without a huge shop at the end with them trying to convince us that it’s so cheap to buy the products there at the shop as opposed to buying them in a retail shop, blah blah blah. At this point I went and stood outside along with the other three tour groups that arrived at the same time, one was another Topdeck group that was in Switzerland at the same time and the other was a Contiki group. Personally if anyone tries to make a blatantly obvious sales spiel I instantly shut down and walk away.
After some people were finished buying up big on perfume we headed into town and checked into our hotel for the next two nights which was located opposite the main train station in Nice. Called the Hotel de Berne it was in quite a central location in Nice allowing us to easily walk to most of the main sites around the city.
Tonight dinner was included by Topdeck at a local restaurant, it wasn’t a bad meal at all and was a nice end to a long day of travelling on the coach. After dinner most people opted to go out to a bar that night, feeling pretty exhausted and starting to come down with a slight cold that would be the start of something that would ultimately hit me in Florence in a few days (more on that later), I went to bed in anticipation of having a big day tomorrow.
Nice & Monaco – 09 May, 2012
Today was our free day to explore Nice, as our accommodation was located in a pretty central location close the the railway station it didn’t take very long to walk anywhere we wanted to go. The main place to explore is along the foreshore where the sapphire blue waters of Nice meet the pebbly beach.
One of the main things to do in Nice is to climb the main lookout at the top of a hill were an Old Chateau is located, from here you can get 360 degree views of Nice from the main beach side or the port located on the other side of the hill. On the way up or down one of the walkways will take you past a waterfall that cascades over the cliff taking you down a set of stairs within an old tunnel like structure.
There really isn’t that much to see and do in Nice, it’s a nice (mind the pun) location but you wouldn’t want to spend too much time here. If you are looking for a beach with actual sand, a man made beach is located 30km away in the film festival mecca of Cannes. Apparently the sand is desert sand from Africa, so it might not feel like proper beach sand… if there is such a feeling.
Tonight after having our free day we all met out the front of our hotel to wait for the coach to take us to the tiny nation of Monaco. Our coach was late as there was a huge car accident along the road so the time we spent in Monaco was limited to about an hour and a half. While in Monaco we checked out one of the three casinos, the one we looked at inside was free to enter while the more famous Casino Monte Carlo requires a 10 euro entry fee and for them to check your passport, unless your really into seeing the inside of a casino, not really worth the trouble.
With our short time living up the high life with the rich and famous it was time to get back on the coach and head back to Nice. One of the guys on our tour who was my room mate in hotel we were staying in Nice managed to miss the bus, a prime example of having to be back on time or they will leave without you. He did make it back on his own by catching the train, but it was fair to say he was slightly freaking out just a little bit.
Tomorrow we are back on the coach as we get to tick another country off our list, Italy and the beautiful city of Venice.
DOWNLOAD: Topdeck Nice City Guide