Train(ing) Day

Day 58: Wednesday December 7th, 2011

I grab breakfast to go to sustain me on the train and get to the train, ready for an all day affair.

I get to Figueres, a city on the border of France and Spain. My first transfer consisted of crossing the platform. Even I can’t screw that up.

On the next train, I sat next to a Morrocan woman named Meryam who was on her way to Montpelier. She was very interesting. Normally she’d be wearing a shawl but not when she travels outside of her country (she obviously loves to travel). She spoke Arabic, French and pretty decent at English, and is learning German. She loves Barca and had braces. I got her e-mail and was hoping to go back and forth, but I never heard back from her. Ouch.

I have an hour long wait in Montpelier where I read Count of Monte Cristo and read all the way to Marseilles, which is really cool, since a lot of the book takes place in Marseilles (Edmund Dantes is a sailor from the city). It also has elements of Catalunya Spain (his love is from there), Paris, Nice and Rome, all places I would visit and see or already had, adding to my enjoyment of the classic novel by Alexander Dumas.

Finally, I arrive in Nice, France after a beautiful train ride passing by the Mediterranean and the city of Cannes. I vowed that the next time I was back, I’d be there with a movie to screen (or at least go and see the festival).

I look into reserving seats for my next destination (Venice), but they actually don’t need reservations to Ventimiglia, the city on the border of France and Italy. This will lead to a shit storm later.

On the recommendation of Justin and Aubrey, and from basically every other backpacker in the world, I had booked two nights at The Villa at Saint Exulpery, a Famous Hostel that is known as one of the best in Europe. After taking the tram, I make a free phone call on a pay phone (didn’t know that was possible) and am picked up by their shuttle.

Once there, I learn it is indeed a pretty sweet hostel. The bar is huge, the upstairs lounge features many free computer terminals, and they have a pretty good restaurant. The day I arrived had an Aussie dinner that I had to try: salt and pepper squid with lemon mash potatoes, a kangaroo steak with red fruit sauce, and a bacon, egg and beet burger (they were all small portions). It was legit and prepared like a real chef, with quite the presentation. It was good, though not fantastic or anything (kudos for me not noticing the beets).

I returned to my room, where I was literally the only one in it, a far cry from Barcelona. I loved it. The room had its own bathroom and internet, so I had a very relaxing night.

NEXT: Nice in a day.

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