From Spain to France.

Trip Start May 30, 2013
Trip End Nov 25, 2013

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Where I stayed
Homeexchange Port of Nice

Flag of France  , Provence,
Monday, July 1, 2013

Our days in Alcoceber,Spain are fast running out ….and Garry  wants to drive south from here to Oropesa, where the soft Spanish shoes are available - being sold by Moroccans ’who own many shops on the seafront. We chose to return to the same man who gave us good service last time and after much deliberation and ‘feeling of the soft leather’ ,G settled on ANOTHER pair for himself….While down this coast we decide to drive inland and visit another hilltop, castled  village I had read about - Villafames….the approach from far out, lets us see the whole village is built on a red rock formation, surrounded by lovely countryside - with a huge red castle perched on the top. We park up and make our way to the top through the quiet little lanes ..nice smells wafting from doorways as everyone is home having their lunch and siesta ……2 oclock and we are the only soles around - until we nearly jump out of our skins, as the loud speakers around the village begin to blast out with a very lengthy, sombre message (just as we were picking our way down from the summit)….were the strangers (us) going to be surrounded?? Evicted??? Who knew what was being told to the villagers- however we were able to drive out , without being stopped- this language barrier gets us EVERY day.

We are now down to our last full day here on our own before the owners return to spend the night ,then drive us to Barcelona  Airport for our late flight to Nice and to meet Susan & Don on Monday. OH DEAR ….G has now taken over half of my suitcase, and on latest count has 8 pairs of shoes…who said women were the best shoppers. Jobs all lined up for the day - cleaning vacuuming and same for the car….drive out to the main road to gas up and I say;    ”why don’t we take a run up to Peniscola????“
 and there went another 5 hours.  Peniscola is a dramatic seaside town with a huge castle perched above the beach and township. We approached our walk a different way from our last visit, and followed the old cobbled pathways up, that lead to the fortified ramparts that hugs the sea wall. There in front of us was a procession setting off from the church ,down to the port - another Saint to be revered and remembered-  with the men carrying the said ”Saint” (looking colourful, but very wooden),on their shoulders in a row boat . Right behind was the town band (mostly young men) and lovely little girls and their Mothers all in costume with the well dressed villagers right behind- quite a sight and very stirring.    The movie EL CID was filmed right here in the 1960’s (starring Charleton Heston) …we stopped later to cool off in a quiet, cool little alleyway - to enjoy a Paella for a late lunch …..the proud waiter , told us his Mother was part of the ‘crowd scene’ in the Movie when being filmed  here .Now for those Vegetarians amongst you (and my Grandchildren) …SORRY  but it was Rabbit Paella for lunch!!   
 we ordered ,and oh so delicious , washed down with our Claras (Shandies).
After a super meal with Jesus & Pepita, up high above the ocean at El Pinar on our last evening in Alcoceber ;, the following morning we walked to the Marina to check out their lovely boat…..then returned to do a final pack, leaving  reluctantly  for the last time. A 2 hour journey and we were saying our goodbys at Barcelona airport…knowing we will meet again in NZ in November, when we will return THEIR wonderful hospitality.
Our flight with Easy Jet to Nice was like clockwork- arrived 10 minutes early after an enjoyable 1 hour flight- flying in from the sea over St Tropez, then continuing low over beautiful green 'market' countryside, until we finally dropped onto  what seemed to be a runway created on the ocean off the Nice coastline, with ALL the private jets lined up along the runway....
 Our Virginia friends Susan & Don ,were there to meet us from our flight , and we were actually able to find our way through the heavy traffic in time to meet the housekeeper from our home exchange at 8pm as planned (sometimes plans do work!!)
The traffic here is just crazy - Don cannot believe the kamikaze style motor cyclists, who weave their way in and out of the .dense traffic at right angles to the vehicles. We even watched a young woman with a child on the back, riding her motor bike down the footpath as the street where we were negotiating  was gridlocked.
This afternoon we took a car journey to St Paul De Vence -(G & me had visited  in 2004).
A hilltop village that was important in Roman times and equally important in the early years of Christian France. In the ‘wars of religion, the town was besieged by Huguenots , but did not fall… a fact , that each year is commemorated with a festival ...
 forgetting that the Tour D France was going on !!! Big mistake - once on the way, there was no turning back- a journey that our GPS told us would take 30 minutes ,took 2 hours. And the return journey took over 2. and 1/2 hours - our accommodation is by the port, and the road along the port is oneway ,and of course completely cordoned off for the cycle race. (most of the roads are oneway in the city).  As I am writing this (10.30pm) the fireworks are booming around the port; the dogs are going mad and so are the big gulls from the ocean.
  Speaking of dogs -seems everyone has one- big ones, little ones, all having to do what every dog does - mostly along the footpaths!!! And one has to chose their path carefully as you walk.- I will say no more….Bit like the traffic wardens , there aren’t any! And vehicles are parked up and left, sometimes 3 wide …and IF you can find a carpark, it is parking “by ear” to get out , as they are literally bumper to bumper down the streets.
We are near the Port and just around the corner from place Garibaldi, which leads into the old quarter, so that is where we strolled this morning when Susan & Don arrived for the day (they are staying about 10 minutes by car  from here) ….exploring Nice on foot- the ‘Spanish paseo’ (slow stroll) in France …coming out at place Messina ,absorbing the atmosphere with Susan & me snapping with our cameras in unison (no wonder we have been friends since little girls, still enjoy the same things)- with the 2 Guys following behind........... Then I was blessed “big time” , by a VERY large gull that lives with many other gulls on fresh fish at the markets…
 .I said “its raining” and looked up…oh no!! the stall holder crossed herself and said   “I had been lucky” (blessed)…”REALLY???”     being dropped on from above - all through my hair, down my shoulder bag, clothes and shoes - my sun visor taking in a real good dose….these gulls are HUGE and it is just as well pigs don’t fly , or I would be in deep SHXT.
 After taking in all we could of markets, fruit , meat, veges, flowers, we kept walking ….and walking , for a very long walk back along the Promenade des Anglais, oceanside leading back around to the port.   

 Another sunny morning in Nice …and the parking of traffic is quite humorous. Just outside our apartment, the cars sit sometimes 3 deep on the road, on corners, pedestrian crossings…wherever you want to drop the car, JUST get out of it and walk away!!!The NZ Police Dept, would be in “parking ticket heaven “ here.    Susan & Don arrived on the bus (easier than trying to find where to leave the vehicle)- and we met with Trish outside the steps of Notre Damne cathedral on the Port ( 50 yards from here)…Trish is a lady we met during quiz nights in Allcoceber, who lives 6 months in Nice and 6 months in Spain. She offered to meet and help us while we are in Nice.  A great day with her - she knows all the ‘ropes’ - we 5 caught the tram from Messini square to the Gare Nice Ville , (train station) to purchase tickets for the train to Monaco on Tuesday…we do have the car, BUT it is almost impossible to find parking - the train station was even worse than Barcelona …the stress in the air is THICK and the French seem to make catching the train as difficult as possible. Of the 4 ticket selling machines , only one was working and would not accept any notes - only coins or credit cards…because of this the queue to purchase was an hour long. After obtaining tickets , we all caught the tram back to enjoy a leisurely lunch of Tapas in the Old quarter with Trish .
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daviderinb on

Great blog Jan! Excellent photos too! Your weather a major contrast to ours in NZ! xx EnD

garrynjan on

yes- the weather since we have left NZ has been almost perfect..lucky us.
Sorry about the status of country in some of the pics - first half dozen should have had Spain in top right hand corner, NOT Nice...bit misleading

lynne and Ron Foy on

We are soooooo enjoying your blog. I can picture you both in the villages. Poor Gary making him walk so much???????????Those 70 year old feet are going well. Love to you both Us xxxxxx

garrynjan on

thanks for your comment Lynne....well, he has lots of shoes to wear now, so no excuses!!!!

Delboy on

Great blog and photos. Weather looks good everywhere. You won't need a buggy for golf after all that walking. Enjoy yourselves.

Shirley D on

Wonderful blog J & G. Brings back great memories of Nice especially the Cote d'zure and stony beaches, car parking nightmare and even bigger nightmare, the dog droppings. Wonderful climate and can't wait to go to Spain and Portugal after reading your blog. Happy travels, S & B

glenna gray on

Happy travels! We love the blog and beautiful pictures. Please tell Susan and Don hello from VA. The storms continue to move through. We could use some of the beautiful weather you have had during your trip! See you in NC. :-)

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