TRIP DIARY: VERNAZZA TO VENCE TO CANNES
31 June - Travel day: Up the Italian coast and back to France. Vernazza to Monterosso to Genoa to Ventimiglia to Nice to Cagnes sur Mer to Vence (8 am to 7 pm). I finally connect with other residents, Tony & Jane, after 5 (late) trains from Italy and a slow bus from Cagnes sur Mer, 25 cl of wine with moules et frites (while waiting at la Victoire in the square right outside Vence's old town). As it darkens (9-10 pm), waiter Paschal finally gives me a map of the historic city, drawing a line to my street, and I haul my suitcase and backpack through the cobbled streets, finding my way. I knock, and no one responds. At last Tony arrives, guiding me to my room two floors up. I sleep, exhausted.
1 July - 8 am, I'm on the square with a cappuccino and pain chocolate. I drop in the Poste to add minutes to my French tele. The market is filled with bountiful fruits, veggies. I take things home then head back out for a walk. Flậneur. Then nap from 1 to 3, finishing my photo editing by seven. Dinner at Le Clemenceau (Tony mentions it has the best/fastest wifi). Filet mignon in noisette sauce. Veggie flan. Pommes. A nice red. Bon! Too much/take home (NOT French). Meet and photo Sissi and Julie, waitresses.
2 July - Catch a ride to St. Paul de Vence with Tony and Jane, sharing coffee and conversation - delightful Britts! I buy a fresh green juice from Sylvie on the square then proceed to walk the city on the hill. At the first art gallery I get into a lovely discussion with Julien, who reminds me not to miss the Luberon and his favorite town, Les Baux de Provence. I decide to add it to my study of Les Villes Perché (medieval hill towns). Wander. Shoot photos.
Wait for bus home at 15:20. Salad greens & left over filet mignon for early supper with the rosé Tony & Jane left for me.
There are dogs everywhere (on leashes), yet I've seen only 1 poop in 7 weeks! (in Nice). Is it the free bag dispensaries? Habit? Just good French politeness?
3 July - Quiet day photo editing, writing, catching up Italy and Vernazza for blog and FB.
After saying aloha to Tony n Jane, I get to the top floor to do some laundry and enjoy killer views...and a fabulous sunset on the deck.
Send FR n IT notes
Edit photos and upload 3 slide shows.
Write and post blog
Translate Mathieu - write bk.
Write Susan n Phil - Poyols, Luc, Die
Write Vernazza story: Gianni, Belforte, Vernazza wine experience. Etc.
Text Callum re connecting with stuff he's storing
FB to blog - 3 vignettes
I take a little walk about. Wifi @ Clemenceau.
4 July - my French boyfriend comes ce soir from Nice. I shop for food, etc. Prep la maison et le lit. It rains midday. I try to nap, knowing it will be a long night :-)
5 July - Wake @ 7. M sleeps til 9:30. We take a quiet bus together to Cagnes sur Mer, where he catches the tren to Nice, and I visit the Chateau/Museum Grimaldi - panoramic views from top deck. Disturbing images (modern art show) of torture, etc. Still I enjoy dejeuner at le Village Brasserie: Poulet roti avec salade et frites. Take home nearly half a chicken! Tarte de pomme avec chantilly et berries. Yum! Excellent & friendly service by Cindy. Hike uphill (hot sun) to Renoir's home, now an amazing museum property! I am transported. Inspired. Hang out a couple of hours. Bus home. Stop at Clemenceau, where I've discovered Pastis! Actually Tony introduced me to it on their last night here. Oh dear. It's perfect for a sore throat, following too much enjoyment at recent World Cup games. When you don't want a beer or wine, when you want to save $1 euro over a Perrier - $2.50 et tout l'eau you can drink. Sleep really well.
6 July - Home. M texts, asks if I liked the watermelon. I think of Pablo Neruda and his ode...and painting. I would write poetry for M if I thought he'd understand. He brings me food, cooks for me, uncracks a shell, toughened over time. Texts sweet...and dirty. Has no idea of my value, yet values me anyway. I like his strangeness, his sweetness, the language difficulties. His mystery. His transparency.
7 July - Still troubled by not being able to unlock my iPhone (apple!!$@&%#*!), so using 2 phones - the French one for local calls & texts, the iPhone for email, FB, surfing, google translate, etc., but I have no wifi in the house, so I hang at Le Clemenceau & La Victoire - where Paschal and the owner have fun with me...and rock American music!
Garçon Giovanni refuses to serve me lunch. Been working for about 2 hours then decide to order lunch. When he looks sideways at me, I suggest he set up the place next to me, and I'll jump over to eat. "Why don't you finish your work, madame, and I'll set you up a nice table on the terrace?" How American to work right through lunch! How French to stop and actually enjoy the meal - salmon cooked to perfection, cauliflower flan, zucchini, rice. Côte white. Café.
Take ordinateur home, 1 hour nap, then take my camera for a walk around the old city in the late afternoon, meeting Ali Bouchareb with his great hair and tee shirt...and fast fingers!! (he takes my iPhone to type in his name, after I stumble a couple times).
8 July - Café and wifi at Clemenceau. Meet Luca. Bank machine refuses both cards. Mon dieu!! - my bank has frozen my account without notice.
People sweep the streets (jobs AND less noise/pollution). Actually people work all over France...jobs we rarely see back home, where so much is done by machine.
Check lady on my block to pick up sewing. Head via bus back to St. Paul to visit the Muséé Fondation Maecht. Beautiful! Awesome!! Stop at the Soeur's Hermitage back down hill. Makes me want to be a nun :-) Another WCup game tonight. Brazil - Germany!!
9 July - Buy big fancy heirloom tomate et fresh basilica at street market. Stop in little patisserie for "croissant ou pain?" Lady remembers me from buratta/Italian shop yesterday, suggests a half loaf (.45) Go home and make the best salade ever!
with a crusty French bread and fleurs de basilica...and the buratta, purchased from Francesco. Eat on the top deck, looking over the mountains - a picture perfect day, filled with sunshine. 78 degrees. More laundry, house cleaning. Not nuf $$ now to leave for Andrea. Will have to send. Tonight BIG GAME: Netherlands/Argentina!! Gibbous moon over Le Clemenceau. Pastis. Happy.
10 July -
Ck currencies $1.35/.73
E Nice expats piece to Jason
E to peter. Might have to come visit. Save $$. Ck cheap Greek room somewhere near beach, P&D
Yes to Cannes $1300/cash. (call bank)
Trip advisor - La Victoire, Rosarie, etc.
Ck subscribers blog
Upload Grimaldi n Renoir n St. Paul slide shows
E Pics to Tony n Jane
Upload fr vignettes
Write CsM blog
St Paul photos
Finalize French Culture piece and pick a few photos - St of lib. Culture. Tram
FB pics/blog - new pic
Text M. - wish a good Ramadan
Call David, back from UK?
Hike up to Chapelle Rosarie (Matisse's chapelle). Ferme. Walk home. Stop for lunch from Samuel @ Bistro du Peyra by the fountain. Moules a la Gorgonzola et frites. Vin rosé. Café.
Rain. Go Down - slip rounding corner from main square (3x a charm - ouch/knee (again). Smash iPhone (yea screen protectors!!). Need shoes with grip. No tread left on flips.
Recharge then head back, hoping for a bus to the Chapelle. No luck. Stop at Orange shop - no screen protectors. Removes mine. Protectors are worth every penny!
Quel Disappointment!! (Rosarie Chapelle) After feeling welcomed throughout the south of France at over 25 museums, many free (and ALL churches), I thought $6 for this experience was a rip! No handouts or information. No phototogaphy. A 10-minute talk in the Chapelle (en française), a walk through a hallway filled with posters of other Matisse exhibits, and a small postcard/bookstore. 'Goodbye.' No views. No gardens. (From the outside they looked enticing). Several attendants reminded me that this is "privéé", so not run for the benefit of guests, but for profits only. I felt it. I don't mind paying for a good experience, but even E$6 is too much for a bad one. Matisse's work saved this from being a zero, but even he would hate what it's become.
Stop on the way home at old stone water works and Chapelle des Penitents Blancs - my favorite local church.
Events every night in the square. Plays. Songs. Judo exhibits... Big music setting up at main square - for 1 month of music. Might make it back for Pink Martini.
We need a commons back home. It's a community builder!
David (hooked me up with Vence pad) meets me for a rosé and catch up. Later some pasta at little Italian spot outside the west gate.
11 July - All week I've been very conscious of how much I NEED SUN AND SUNLIGHT!! Here in the old town, the home is sandwiched on 4 levels between other homes, so there's light on the top floor (and deck), but it's progressively darker down to my room (2nd), living/kitchen (1st), and basement apartment. Still, with all the travel, I love settling in...cooking, dancing, nesting. I'm off today to Cannes. Stop in La Victoire to bid adieu to Paschal et al, steeling myself with a great espresso for the moving day ahead. I hope my new place is sweet...with lots of light and a sea view.
Walking to bus, the tomato lady at the market recognizes me, gives me a lovely apricot as an aloha gift...wishes me 'bon voyages'.
Note: lots of children here. Everywhere. Not so much in Ashland.
Bus drops me off within a block of La Gare. I buy my own ticket at the French machine, remember when I couldn't. Assenseurs, yea!! 60 minute wait....2 late/missed trens. Talked w old worker dix minutes en francaise. Cool breeze. I'm a patient traveler.
Corrine meets my train, picks me up in her Mercedes, takes me to the tiny studio in Le Suquet...with great view of port, mer. Share some of the chilled rosé they left for me. Unpack. Walk hill. Church on top - so much reverence for the mother. Muséé. Views!!!!!
LA Farigoule - fried zucchini Fleurs, great spicy aoli. fresh filet of dorade in evoo w basilica. Zucchini. Late lunch/early dinner @4:30 - Long travel day. Orange wine: Blood oranges with rosé, canelle. Delicious!
I stand at my open french doors, loving the sea breeze. As the beach across the bay turns golden, another full moon rises over Cannes, and I am filled with joy. The more I follow my bliss, the more it seems to follow me.