This morning, I woke a few minutes before my alarm went off. I’m still surprised that I managed to sleep that long. I had the curtains drawn back so the sun was streaming brightly into the room and the glass wall was producing a greenhouse effect. Needless to say, the room felt like it was on the surface of the sun, but strangely enough, I enjoy that. I don’t particularly care for sweating through my t-shirt, but I enjoy being hot.
I took a shower and went downstairs for the fancy breakfast that Ma had paid for when she booked the room. I didn’t know how to go about getting the food without paying, I didn’t know if I needed a voucher or something, so I inquired at the front desk. Thankfully, it wasn’t that horrible woman from yesterday, so I didn’t mind speaking to her. She said that the guest informs the front desk of when they eat breakfast at the end of their stay. I immediately thought this was an idiotic method from an economical sense. Why in the world would you admit you ate three breakfasts at thirteen euros a pop, when you can say you had one, or none? I didn’t say anything about this, so, I went into the breakfast room and helped myself to a wide variety of things.
I wouldn’t say that I was particularly impressed with the food — it was standard hotel food that you get for free at the Microtel except there was meat, which was very good. Probably the best bacon I’ve ever had in my entire life, honestly. But the rest of the food was just blah. Definitely not worth paying the thirteen euros. There is a restaurant behind the hotel that serves a full breakfast, cooked to order, for only seven euros. I would have gone there, but I don’t eat breakfast food.
After breakfast, I went back upstairs to my room and lounged on the terrace with my big sunglasses pretending I was an overworked celebrity, which I have to say, I can do very well. It was so lovely sitting out there as the sun burned the clouds off revealing a beautifully blue sky and another wonderful day in the Mediterranean. I worked on my blog and read a lot of my book. I never knew what an utterly fascinating woman Gloria Swanson was. She has convinced me to do an experiment when I get home: get rid of all refined sugar and iodized salt from my diet, replace them with unrefined sugar and unrefined sea salt, and see if I have more energy and lose weight by doing nothing. I think that’s a swell idea, so, I’ll see what happens.
The cleaning lady tidied up my room as I reclined in the sun, which was nice. I always wished we had a maid like Alice on The Brady Bunch, only I wouldn’t treat her so badly as those kids did when they got rid of her that one time. Those kids were idiots. The only good character was Tiger, the dog. The rest were losers.
Mom called, which I had been waiting for, so once I hung up, it was time to go out and explore. My mission for the day was to find the apartment building where McFarland used to live. I didn’t know if it would be easy or hard. I had pictures of her building and pictures she had taken from the balcony. I used those to get a rough perspective of where it should be located and headed towards the citadel.
I immediately came across two antique markets, so, I of course, had to browse. There were old books and paintings and frames and documents and guns, and rusty silverware, which I was very tempted by. I have a vast collection of forks that I steal from restaurants. If I could only get the salad tongs, my Olive Garden collection would be complete, but I can never think of a clever way to manage that.
After deciding that I didn’t want the rusty silverware I continued my walk up the hill. I passed by a cafe called “Chez Betty,” which immediately peaked my curiosity. I mean, Betty isn’t a very French name. I don’t know one French woman named Betty. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I don’t think so. I continued my walk and was soon at the petanque courts, but nobody was playing.
I had walked for probably two hours all over that little village, but my search had turned up nothing. I had to assume that the building was no longer there, sad as that was. So, I walked along the ruined citadel and passed an apartment complex.
When I passed by a tiny alley, something made me look down it and I stopped dead. I recognized that dry cleaner’s…and that grocery store used to be a cinema! I started laughing — there it was, completely unchanged. It looked identical to the picture I had. I was very pleased with myself. I felt like a spy somehow, an historical spy.
I went around the block to find the entrance where I was hit by a double whammy. The cafe called “Chez Betty” was right across the street from where she had lived. I knew it hadn’t been a coincidence, even if I don’t understand how it came to be. Then, I turned around and recognized the Hotel Provençal from another one of the pictures she had shown me.
I was very proud of myself, even if I couldn’t find the Hôtel-Ker-Maria. This is a building that I adore the looks of in the pictures she showed me, and I really wanted to find it because it reminded me so much of a classy 1930s hotel. But, it was nowhere to be found.
I found myself on an unfamiliar road that led me straight to the little train station, so, I decided to go to Eze today. I bought a ticket to Monaco because I might have time to go to that little country. My ticket popped out of the machine and I sat and read for the half hour it took for the train to arrive. I couldn’t compost (time-stamp) my ticket, so I had to ask for assistance. It was too hard for me to figure out on my own.
The train arrived and I was soon in Eze-sur-Mer. The village is high up in the mountains and you can either get there by the Nietzsche Path or taking the bus. Normally, I would have chosen the exceedingly painful route up, via the path, but mother convinced me not to — seeing as there was a good chance I’d die on the way. It is truly harrowing and delightful.
So, instead I had to wait forty minutes for the bus to show up, which I thought would be boring, but good God, it couldn’t have been more entertaining. About fifteen minutes after I sat down, I heard a high, fast-speaking, male voice coming up from behind. At first I couldn’t hear the Irish accent, but as the two men came closer, I could distinctly make out their words. I looked up, gasped, and then looked away, embarrassed — LEPRECHAUNS! They were little skinny old men probably no more than five feet tall talking in high little voices with strong Irish lilts. They weren’t wearing green, but I supposed that they had to go incognito. It would get exhausting every day having your coin purse stolen. Now, I have never believed in leprechauns, but this may have changed my mind. After awhile though, they decided to go to a bar and left me alone, with a smile upon my face. Maybe there is magic in the world.
The bus finally came and we took off, around death-defying turns and sheer cliff walls. If you were inclined to be frightened, it would have been the scariest car ride ever, but I enjoyed spiraling up the mountain, with death looming ever over my shoulder. He stopped at the penultimate stop and told me that the road was closed, so I had to WALK to the village, which I didn’t mind at all. It was stunning to be up that high walking along the road, past the perfume factory and into the medieval village.
It was odd to me how well I remembered everything there from my last visit, especially for a village that twisted so nonsensically. I quickly found the spice market and amused myself browsing amongst the ridiculously affordable herbs and spices. We certainly get gouged on these back home. I got a whole bag of peppercorns and a big bag of tasty herbes de provence for only eight euros.
Rather pleased with myself, I wandered around the village some more. I stumbled upon the church, which I didn’t think of going to last time. It was very pretty and much older than I thought it was. From outside the church, there is a great spot where you can see clouds running into the village. No, not fog, true cumulonimbi.
Then I climbed up to the top of the Jardin Exotique. It was just as stunning to see as it was two years ago, but before it was even more so because I could see just how very high I had climbed and could feel rather proud about myself. This time, I just felt lazy, but I didn’t mind that.
From here, you could see the Devil’s Bridge which was built in the early 20th Century. Even for being relatively new, it quickly had a legend placed upon it. Here’s an abridged version:
A farmer wanted to more easily access the village of Eze, but he lives across a ravine, so there is no easy way across. He tries to build a rope bridge, but keeps failing. As darkness falls, he sees the Devil on the other side of the ravine. The Devil asks the man what he desires most in the world. The man replies, “A bridge.” The Devil says that at midnight he will build a beautiful stone bridge for the farmer, but the Devil gets the soul of the first living thing that crosses. The farmer agrees and goes to sleep. When he wakes up, he goes to see if the bridge is there, and it is. The Devil is waiting on the other side to claim the farmer’s soul, but the farmer is more clever than the Devil realizes. The farmer throws a stick onto the bridge and his dog chases after it, losing its soul the minute it touches the bridge. The Devil, greatly embarrassed and annoyed, vanishes, taking the dog’s soul with him, but leaving the bridge.
I really don’t know why they went to the effort of making up this story, but I liked it, even if the dog got the raw end of the deal. The garden had a new relaxation area which was really pretty. There were giant wooden chairs over a pond, which sounds like it could only end in disaster, but it was quite lovely.
Now, I was hungry, so I went to La Taverne. I was the only one there as it was only 4:30pm. The people inside were confused that I wanted to eat so early, but they were more than happy to serve me, for which I was grateful. I ordered the Boeuf Bourgogne and a bottle of water. I have been meaning to try this dish since I arrived in France, but have never been able to find it, so, I was pretty excited.
The water turned out to be a plastic bottle that would have been a quarter at home but cost three and a half euros here. I didn’t mind, though. Pa had given me money to spend. Soon after, the food came. It was heavenly — rounds of the tenderest roast marinated in a red wine sauce reduction topped with mushrooms, carrots, onions, hand-turned potatoes, and slivers of bacon. IT WAS AWESOME! Second best thing I’ve ever eaten, first is still the roasted chicken at Iolanda’s. Now, I don’t normally like mushrooms, but these were really good. The beef fell apart when the fork touched it and I sopped up the delightful sauce with half a baguette.
As my meal was winding to a close, they turned off the opera to replace it with football. The French really love that silly game. I had a coffee and then decided it was time to go home.
As I walked back down past the Chateau Eza, I saw flyers for a masquerade. I was immediately thrilled at the opportunity to go to a masked ball, but it had taken place yesterday. I was pretty sad about that.
I checked the bus schedule, and it wasn’t due to arrive for a half hour, so, I went into Casino to buy a bottle of Oasis. This little grocery store is special to me, it is the first place I had ever tried Oasis, so, it was kind of like a reunion.
The bus came and we flew down the mountain to the bus stop. The train wasn’t for twenty minutes, so I went down to the rocky beach. It’s incredibly different from Villefranche, there, the rocks are tiny, but here, they are massive. I collected a few rocks that I liked for my collection of Mediterranean stones, of which I have two, and then walked out on an old stone pier. Of course I slipped on seaweed, but I didn’t plunge to my death, which was a real relief.
The train quickly pulled in to Villefranche and I made my way up to the hotel. Inside my room, I discovered that the hotel had provided me with stationary and envelopes. I looked outside, the sun was almost set, so I decided the best possible thing to do would be to write letters and watch the sun set on the beach.
I was all alone, well, me and this stray dog, and it was lovely watching the sun plunge into the sea and the lighthouse flash in the distance. I wrote letters until I was much too cold, and then when I was, I decided to dip my feet into the sea. The water was surprisingly warm…damn global warming.
I then went to bed as I have a big day tomorrow. I have to go to the Tourism Office and then catch my flight home at 9:00pm.