I hit THE WALL, yesterday, maybe the day before. Which wall? The one where you need a vacation from your vacation because you hit maximum fatigue from traveling and touring. In my case, about 11 days of driving, hiking and a different hotel every night. Further confounded by having a limited, general sense of where I was at any time (geographical disorientation).
My goal for my last days in Nice:
– do nothing on Fri.
– lay on a private beach on Sat.
The beaches on the Cote d’Azur do not vary much. The towns do, some are more chic and expensive, like St. Tropez, St. Rafael, Cannes and Monaco. If French Rivera sun is what you seek, it really doesn’t matter. So I opted for Nice to minimize my transit efforts to the airport, and because at a peak weekend in early June, it is easier to find affordable accommodation.
Only yesterday, I booked a 2-Star Hotel with good trip advisor reviews, Hotel Solara. Located very. Lose to the beach, it has a lift and according to trip advisor, a rooftop terrace. For 130€ for 2 nights, not bad. Now, the trick is getting to my hotel in Nice without my little Peugot and trusty GPS.
From the Nice train station, I take a taxi to the hotel, because I just don’t have to fortitude to hump the baggage in the hit sun. I re-organized and rebalanced this morning at the hotel, and then again at the rental car drop off. I just have to much d*!?#*%#* stuff!!!! I hire porters in the Cannes train station, a bargain at 7.60€, for my 3 big heavy bags, which they carry down and up the stairs to the center platform. Twenty minutes later they come back and heft my bags onto the train for me. Even though we are unable to communicate verbally, they help me. The Nice train is delayed. The one that comes is a reserved train only, I bought a cheaper general ticket. Should I have bought the reserved? Would it matter? The porters move me and my luggage family to the other side if the platform for the trail to Ventimiglia. This is the same line I took to Monaco for the Grand Prix. I know it stops in Nice, so I am not anxious. The train arrives and they like my luggage family into the section between the cars, where there is a fold down seat. I sit. The trip to Nice is about 30-mins, I think. I am blocking most if the door on one side. Not sure what I will do if this door needs to be used.
Comfortably, we move down the track. People get on, people get off. Then, it happens, the doors on my side open for a stop. I get up and squish myself into my luggage. There is room for single file passage. A guy with a stroller lifts it over part of my luggage. I feel horrible, what can I do?
The train becomes more crowded as we approach Nice. I watch the station display to make sure I don’t miss my stop. I think about how I am going to get the bags off. I have the 3 plus a small shopping bag with precious wine from Ile St. Honorat. As we approach “Nice Ville” some people ask me if Nice is the next stop. “Oui”, I reply and point as the display. We pull into the station where they kindly take my bulky bag. I manage the others, only after the exiting crowd clears. They wave at me from the platform, I proceed and we meet. I bank them profusely as they re-board the train. Funny, I thought I was helping them navigate the right stop. When all along, they were helping me. This would rarely happen in the USA.
I wait for the clutter of passengers to clear to sort myself out and find he lift. I see no signs for a lift. I spy the SCNF railroad employee in his conductors hat. The same in Cannes kindly directed me to the porters. I ask him for a lift. No. He says, no escalator. I ask for a porter, following my experience in Cannes. He shrugs his shoulders and moves on, he doesn’t understand and I am not his problem.
OK. I only have one option, hump the luggage myself. I make 2 trips humping the luggage down the stairs. Traverse it through the tunnel where I am faced with two options. 1-Escalator up or 2- Stairs up. My dilemma is 2 trips are required, so I will have to leave bags on both sides in the process. I have. I choice. I am hot, sweaty and stressed and probably do not think this through. The most important items, my passport, money and credit cards are on my back, everything else is replaceable.
I head up the escalator with the bike bag and stow it by some black ladies on a bench away from the crowds. I cannot see the stairs to get back down to my other bags, including my precious wine. People stream up the escalator. I am doomed and sure my things are stolen. I search inside, find the stairs and hustle down. The crowds from the arriving train have cleared. To my relieved surprised, my bags, including the wine, are intact. Never in 15+ years of travel have I faced a dilemma like this. I fully expected the bag with the wines to be gone. A blessing, I do not know. I am thankful.
We take a cab to the hotel, almost. My hotel is on a pedestrian street. The taxi takes me as far as he can and explains in French. We cross communicate as he tries to explain he cannot take me further. We cannot see the hotel sign from the taxi, he assures me it is not far. He offers to help with my luggage. I reactively say no- when I should have said yes. I rig up the bags and head along the flat pedestrian street. It is hot. I arrive at Hotel Solara and press the buzzer. I push my way into a small, painted iron grate door and use a bag to prop it open, as I bring the others in. This hotel has a lift, so I feel confident I am finished humping my bags at this point.
The lift is tiny, it cannot fit a wheelchair. There are multiple signs in the lift warning. I more than 2 persons or 1 person and 1 valise/ bag/ suitcase at a time. A young man pops out of the lift to help me with my bags. I did not see his reaction, but told him we could send the bags in the lift and I will walk up. He says he will tend to the bags and ride up with them. We load 2 bags into the elevator and he climbs in. Nothing happens, it doesn’t move. We take a bag out, maybe it is overweight. It doesn’t move. After a few other tries, we decide it is broken. The hotel is on the 4th floor. He says he bring the bags up for me. I ask of there is storage on this floor, I do not need everything, I explain. He says no, it is OK. What about leaving them here until the lift is fixed. No, it is not safe enough, he says. I will take them up for you. What else can I do. I head up the 4 flights of stairs, rounded, like climbing a tower, but wider. I am out breath, sweat drips visibly down my face as I smile and check in. The receptionist is kind, acting as if my face is not melting off, which I am sure it is. She wants to help me, hot, sweaty, and feeling guilty about the bags, I just want to be in my room. She keeps talking at me, doing her job, as I drip with sweat. This could be an SNL skit, ala the profuse sweating in “Broadcast News”. Finally, she leads me to my room a few steps down on the same floor. I am thankful there are no more steps. She lets me in and tells me I was the last booking for the night. I set my backpack on the table, look out the window. A knock at my door, 2 of my 3 suitcases have arrived, carried 4 flights by this young man. I feel guilty, but not. I paid for a hotel with a lift knowingly, so a broken lift is not my problem. In a few more minutes, he returns with the third. I am appreciative and apologize for his trouble. I do not tip him, he does not expect it, as it is not the custom in France.
Hot and tired, I lay on the bed, on top of the covers. I sync my iPhone and look at e-mail and Facebook, until I am
even too tired for that. I cannot muster the energy to free my iPad from my backpack and sync it too. I have time for that, I am here 2 nights.
I rest in the room for about an hour, then head out to the tourist office.