Trip Start Aug 16, 2010
26Trip End Ongoing
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Afterwards we went down into Cassis and had some free time to have lunch and see the city
After our lunch we grabbed gelato, which was amazing, and wandered around for the last bit of our free time before we were supposed to regroup. There wasn’t too much to see, since the town was so small. So we met up with our guide and headed off to the Calanques. We were supposed to go out on a boat for a tour, but the winds were too strong that day and the boat wouldn’t take us out. So our guide took us over to part of the Calanques and we just climbed around and saw what we could. It was really scenic, the waves crashing on the rocks just below us. I got really wet by a couple rogue waves that hit me unexpectedly. I climbed up on some higher rocks and sat alone for a bit and just enjoyed the breeze and the sound of the sea, it was really calming, very Zen.
The next morning I had to wake up really early to go to Monaco. I had won a contest several weeks ago so I was able to go for free. It was a beautiful tiny country, but I suppose overall I felt a little underwhelmed. Perhaps it was because many of the people that worked there seemed very rude, but I think to get the full experience of Monaco you need at least a six figure salary.
I got separated from everyone in my group during the changing of the guard. After the crowd had cleared they were all gone and since I couldn’t use my phone because I was in another country and didn’t want to pay for international minutes I spent the day on my own. Which had its advantages, at least I didn’t have to decide on where to visit via committee, I got to go where I wanted.
First I went in the Palace, which was free that day for some reason. It was really beautiful filled with lots of exquisite art and furniture. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures and after taking one was quickly attacked by two employees who insisted on watching me delete the photo off my camera. I was able to sneak one photo but it didn’t come out that great
Afterwards I wandered and toured the only courthouse in the country. It was pretty but really small. I had to wait and take a tour to see the whole thing, really not worth the wait, but interesting, I suppose. Afterwards I crossed the street to the cathedral which was built in a byzantine style. It was not quite as big as some I’ve been to but was very ornate and beautiful. The most interesting and unique thing in there were the graves of the royal family, especially the grave of princess grace.
I was running out of time by then, but really wanted to make it over to Monte Carlo, the old famous casino. It was on the other side of town, so I had to book it. I couldn’t find the bus stop so I had to walk
After taking some more pictures of the exterior I hopped back on the bus back to where I had to meet the group, on the way back I grabbed an incredibly overpriced piece of pizza and drink, but I was desperate. I had such a short amount of time to see an entire country, that I hadn’t eaten.
We headed back to France and stopped at Fragonard perfumery. The guide explained a lot about the process by which the essential oils are extracted and the perfumes are made. I bought a bottle of cologne for myself. I was told that it would have cost about four times as much at a store, than there at the factory.
This last Saturday I returned to the village of Saintes Maries de la Mer
Afterwards we went horseback riding in the Camargue. It was fun, I haven’t been horseback riding in at least six years since I was in Boy Scouts
Yesterday, I went hiking up Mount Saint Victoire. I knew it was a big mountain, but I definitely underestimated it. Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so I’ll have to go again. Which I likely would have done anyways, but the views are fantastic. And from the top it is absolutely breath taking. You can see all the way to the sea and have an amazing 360 degree view of the entire countryside surrounding you. At the top there is a small chapel and little room where hikers can spend the night if they wish as well as a large metal cross called The Cross of Provence. I had hiked it with a French friend by the name of Pierre, yes I know that’s about as French as you come. He sort of acted as my guide as I would likely have gotten lost on my own. We rested at the top for a little bit and snacked on some madelines he had brought, but we were chased down by the ridiculously strong winds. It was so cold at the top we were almost running down the mountain to get away from the winds.
Today, I rested mostly after I got back from archery class. I started shooting left handed today which seemed to help somewhat. It was a bit awkward though, because I am right handed but left eye dominant, so I need to aim with my left eye. So it’s a bit uncomfortable either way, but shooting left handed when I shoot shotguns and rifles improves my accuracy so I thought I’d give it a try with archery. I also met a girl in the class from Norway who speaks 6 languages, boy do I feel inadequate, I can barely speak one and a half.