26.08.2016 - 26.08.2016
After leaving Italy we headed into France to the city of Nice. While we were very excited to see the city which my aunty and cousin have raved about, we were also a little sad because we knew that this was where Amy would be leaving us. It was impossible to believe that 3 weeks was almost over. Nevertheless, we were determined to make the most of her final days abroad, so we settled into our campsite and had a quiet night at home.
The next day we headed into the city on the train, and I must say, this was the nicest train I think I have ever been on. Nice was making a good first impression. We spent the morning wandering around the city exploring castle hill, the old town, the beaches, and some parks. Altogether, I though Nice was one of the most liveable cities I’ve seen so far. Everything was just so clean and well maintained. Not only that, the beaches there are pretty incredible too. I think one of our highlights for the day, however, would have had to be lunch. We got a baguette, drink and pasty for 8euro and the lemon meringue was so good I thought Amy was going to cry. Despite all this, there is still one thing that I don’t really get about Nice. Constantly throughout the day we’d be walking through the streets and this wonderful sweet fragrance would waft over us, not like we were walking past a candy store or someone had put on to much perfume, but as if the city has installed little air fresheners on the street just to keep the place smelling great. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was incredible, but I still don’t understand how an entire city can smell that good!
We also decided that seeing as we were so close we had better pop over to Monaco for the day. So after having a looking around Nice itself we dedicated the next day to Monaco which was an easy 30 min train ride from Nice straight along the shoreline with an amazing view of the ocean for most of the time. Before I go any further I’ll say that we did enjoy our day in Monaco and we thought it was definitely beautiful and luxurious. That being said, one of the main things the 3 of us agreed on was that it did feel very sterile. Yes the place was very clean, but I mean that the seemed to be almost no life to the place. There were hundreds of amazing yachts in the harbour and not a person on board, beautiful paths along the ocean and no one using them. The only place we found the place alive was at the beach, which was really quite nice. But altogether we found the whole place lacked any sort of character or warmth to make it appealing to us. My favourite bit about Monaco was by far the Oceanographic Museum. Let’s be honest, if there’s something involving animals or fish then I want to see it. I made the girls come to the museum (not that they took any convincing) just so we could look at all the aquariums. And it’s a good thing we did, as Amy discovered, for the first time in her life, a fish which she thought was genuinely beautiful. Not only that, but we all got to pat sharks in the aquariums version of a petting zoo. By far the highlight of Monaco for me.
That evening we had decided to go out for dinner to celebrate Amy’s last night with us. After enjoying a nice free Italian buffet with our Mojito’s we asked our waiter for a restaurant recommendation and he pointed us to a resteraunt just around the corner. And boy are we glad we asked him. Being at a seaside city we obviously had to eat some seafood. Amy had a delightfully spicy fish dish, I had an amazing octopus and crispy potato salad, and Maddie had an unbelievably delicate plaited fish. We were truly in French heaven.
We grudgingly got ourselves into Nice again the next morning to farewell Amy, and after a quick brunch of deadly Nutella crepes we were waving goodbye as the train whisked her away to Milan. While Amy was riding the train we got ourselves on the road again and headed to the coastal town of St Tropez. We only spent the one day in St Tropez and honestly that was enough for me. It was really beautiful and seemed like it had a lot to offer, but after a day wading through an ocean of tourist and taking 30minutes to drive 5kms I think we were both ready to move on.
We spent the next 2 nights in south France avoiding bush fires. We spent both nights at free sites and both times we nearly weren’t able to get there due to the fires. It was crazy seeing all the smoke in the sky and the flames racing up the sides of cliffs. We even got to watch some planes collecting water from the lake and dumping it on the fires. Thankfully we were safe the whole time and from what we could see they had managed to get the first under control without too much damage.
After leaving St Tropez we had been heading toward Spain. However, we had one little stop along the way. Andorra. Now i’m going to be honest, I knew absolutely nothing about Andorra before we went there. For those of you who don’t know, Andorra is a small, but quite wealthy, micro country between France and Spain which is particularly known for it’s snowfields. Unfortunately for us we arrived right in the middle of Summer. Not so good for skiing. Despite this we really liked Andorra. It was really quite a beautiful place and everything was in immaculate condition. You could tell there definitely was money around. We grabbed some lunch and strolled around the capital for the afternoon before making our way to a carpark next to a river for the night.
With Andorra checked of our list and south France behind us we crossed another border, this time into Spain, and aimed ourselves for Barcelona.