Carnivale in the French Riviera
I am definitely settling into life in Rome, Italy (or Europe in general). After spending last weekend in Florence, I had a relatively easy week of classes. It is nice to have a four day week while studying abroad because the week flies by and it is the weekend before you know it, which means it is time to travel!
On Monday, my roommates and I went to our friends’ apartment for dinner. We all had a great time and played a few games of Scopa afterwards, an Italian card game (very similar to Spades or Hearts). Our team won in blowout fashion – 23-3.
On Tuesday, for the second week in a row, I went to Trattoria Night. It is a dinner sponsored by IES Rome at a local restaurant & is open to 15 students a week. The students pay €10 each and IES covers the rest of the cost. The food is not only phenomenal, but the meal is seven courses- bruscetta, grilled vegetables, pizzettes (fried dough with pizza sauce and parmigiana cheese on top), potato soup, spaghetti with tomato sauce, penne with pesto sauce, and tiramisu. They also provided at least eight liters of wine for the table and all the water you want. Not a bad deal for €10! At the end of the night you walk away full and with a few new friends. I sat next to an ISC (Italian Student Companion) and we spoke in Italian for the duration of dinner. I was very pleased with myself. Even though I already speak Italian in my apartment, it was great to speak to someone new.
This weekend, I booked a last minute trip to the French Riviera with Euroadventures. We left on Thursday night out of Florence (I had to take a train from Florence to Rome) and had a great time. From Florence, it was about a five hour bus ride to our hostel in Nice.
On Friday, our tour group took a train to Monaco – the richest country of the world and the home of the world famous Monte Carlo Casino. We were able to see a Ferari dealership. I’m not much of a car guy, but it was really cool. After the car dealership, we went to the harbor and took pictures of multi-million dollar yachts. Then, we climbed up a cliff about 500 feet high for some of the views I’ve ever seen in my life. We saw the Price of Monaco’s palace and went into Jaque Cousteau’s aquarium. Then, we descended the cliff and tried our luck in Monte Carlo. It cost €10 to get in, but it was well worth it. I can now say that the first casino I ever gambled in was the Monte Carlo. I also won €10.07, so I covered my cover charge and still walked out up .07 cents. Now I know what they mean when they say “quit while you’re ahead!”. Not a bad day! Monaco is, by far, the most beautiful place I have ever been. I hope that I will be able to afford to come back one day!
An amazing view from atop a cliff in Monaco
Yachts in Monaco
View from the Prince’s Palace
Outside Monte Carlo (the reason I wore a suit)
On Saturday, we went to Cannes – home of the famous film festival. It was another beautiful city, but it is hard to imagine how crazy it is during the film festival! We walked to the harbor and saw more yachts. They were so beautiful!
This was a pretty unique area of Cannes – the trees were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before
Winona Ryder’s Handprint on their “Walk of Fame”
Then, on Saturday night, we attended the huge Carnivale parade in Nice. This was a great experience! The floats were amazing, but they were easily overshadowed by the atmosphere of the crowd. Kids (and some adults) were dressed up in costumes that Americans would normally wear for Halloween. The crazier thing, though, were the silly string and confetti wars. No one was safe, and no one was innocent. I was attacked by parade goers from 2 years old to 80 years old. By the end of the night, I was covered in a mix of confetti and silly string from head to toe! In my opinion, Mardi Gras simply cannot compete with Carnivale.
Covered in silly string from head to toe!
One of the many parade floats at Carnivale
On Sunday, we explored Nice. It truly is a beautiful city. I can’t even imagine what it is like in the middle of the summer!
One of the parade floats during the day
A random street I found as I explored Nice
On the way back to Florence, we stopped in a Medieval town built into the side of a cliff called Enz.
A picture of our tour group in Eze (It came out a bit blurry)
I am so happy with my decision to travel to the French Riviera. It wasn’t originally on my bucket list of places to go, but I will remember this weekend for the rest of my life. It was beautiful and a great experience. The views were absolutely breathtaking! The food was great – I had 3 crepes, 2 croissants , and 2 pastries. It all tasted amazing! I truly had a great experience this weekend and met a lot of great people.
Note: This post was originally published on February 27, 2011 in a blog entitled “Romeing Around Europe” which chronicled my study abroad experience.