Well it's been quite some time since I last posted, so I will fill you in with a couple of posts. Last weekend my school had the pleasure of going to Nice and Monaco for the weekend, and it was utterly amazing. The entire ride there I could not help but take an unusual amount of pictures, which was frustrating for those sitting near me as I constantly leaned over them to get a picture, one that my photographer sister back home would critique for it's lack of clarity and definition, but one that would help me to remember my journey in some way or another.

As a side note, I am a terrible photographer. I used to believe that photography was simple, not an art form at all, and that the only 'good' pictures were ones that nature led to the photographer, not that the photographer dreamed up on his or her own creativity. In fact, I once tried to create a flickr to prove my sister Kate wrong, assuring her "Anyone can take a picture", and I failed miserably, even acting as a catalyst for the actual photo-savvy creatives on flickr to openly mock my pictures in the comment section. Kate, you won the war, I exclaimed after changing my name on flickr to "the phony photographer" and eventually feeling so defeated that I deleted my account altogether.

Now that that's out of the way, despite my terrible ability to know when to take the perfect picture, I still take many. And Nice really brought out that urge for me. On our way we overlooked Cannes, which is famous for housing many a celebrity during the annual Cannes Film Festival, as actors like George Clooney and directors like Spielberg live glamorously in the beautiful South of France while they await awards for their works. We only stopped outside of Cannes for about a half hour and even the rest stop we went to on the way was pretty darn cool. They had fresh-out-of-the-oven croissants, espresso, and tourist paraphernalia galore, and the occasional pack of chewing gum that said "Hollywood" on it. The advertisers here are smart ones. Not only that but many of us Americans noticed the cool cappuccino/espresso makers that are pretty common here, which pop out a mini pink solo cup and brew fresh coffee for you in many different flavor options.

After our very brief stop by Cannes, in about 45 more minutes we made our way to Nice, and man it was beautiful. Climbing over the people in the seats next to me to get a picture out the window, I immediately saw the world in beautiful blue. We had arrived at the Mediterranean. When we got out of the bus and actually made our way to sunbathe, I am sure everyone knew that the Americans had arrived. All of us were significantly paler, louder, and were wearing clothes with logos many here in France are unfamiliar with. Nonetheless, those of us who forgot to wear our bathing suits adapted to the culture early, as they stripped on the beach only hidden by a towel held up by a trusty friend. The first thing the boys realized was that yes, indeed, the beach is topless. Much to their dismay it is mainly the old women, who no longer fit the adjective "hot" who chose to go topless, at least that day anyway. And much to the girls' surprise, many a man who sunbathes wear speedos. However, I will say, due to the scrawny figures of many of the men, it is often difficult to tell at first if we are looking at a woman topless wearing bikini bottoms, or a man. Oh, the #frenchbeachproblems we've come across. After we all put on our sunscreen and bathing suits we jumped into the Mediterranean, the majority of us for the first time.

Ah, the Mediterranean. So perfectly beautiful, so clear and clean, so relaxing. I kept thinking the entire time, what did I do to deserve this? How did I get here? Is this real life? Treading in the water, and swimming out farther than I normally dare, it was utter serenity. I looked to my left and there was a huge cliff with a waterfall at the top, I looked to my right and I was admiring the Baie de Nice. Despite how painful it would be soon to climb on the pebbles that the beach has instead of sand, in that moment there wasn't a trouble in the world and it was a wonderful break from the stressful first week of classes.

After our wonderful day at the beach in Nice, we made our way to Monaco for a quick shower at our new hostel, which happened to be a mansion owned by a wealthy artist who was very good friends with Picasso.

the writer of the book "Beauty and the Beast" who owned this hostel, created this amphitheater with the help of Picasso
The place was beautiful, the trip there however, was not for the height-phobic. It was way up the mountain; so high up that the only way I'd ever live there would be if I owned a private jet that would be able to transport me to and from regularly. We took our bus all the way up this mountain, driving on the edge with many twists and turns. The pictures were amazing from the top though, and it was really cool to see Monaco from that perspective.

After we showered we got ready, ate dinner, and headed to the Monte Carlo.

First reactions from many of us: WOH, we're at the Monte Carlo. First reactions from all of the boys: Check out the cars!!!

Ferraris everywhere. Old antique cars everywhere. This place was fancy.

I walked up the stairs and entered the Casino, went to the bar and in french asked the bartender which celebrities he'd seen here. Rocky Balboa (Slyvester Stallone) and Bill Clinton were the most memorable for him he said. Though I'm sure he's seen many more that we'd recognize but that he doesn't know are famous since he's french. After that, the night continued with people gambling, losing money, making friends, eating some croque monsieurs, and us meeting two of the most gorgeous men I've ever met. Why they are not famous I do not know-- or were they?

Anyways, that's neither here nor there, as my grandparents sometimes say, but it was cool. All you girls out there understand. The next morning we American students traveled throughout the town of Monaco.

We passed the "Yacht Club of Monaco" and laughed-- in a principalite that is already known for the wealthy, it screamed "well-off". The boats were magnificent and again, the ferraris were everywhere. And, oddly, so were the cacti. Who knew?
When we made our way to the palais (palace) at 12 there was "the changing of the guards" which was pretty interesting.It was like being in Disneyworld, no offense to the government there, but yes, that's what I thought of.

Then, some souvenirs, a cappuccinno and a crepe later, we made our way back to the bus, and headed to our tour of the Fragonnaire Parfumerie. There we were given a tour by a friendly english-speaking Swedish lady who taught us all about how perfume is made, how to wear it, and the different kinds and the meanings behind the names. She told us statistics like 70,000 pounds of rose petals are used to make this, and 30,000 pounds of lavendar is added after... it was pretty amazing.

The factory makes perfume for many famous companies including Chanel, YSL, etc but sells them at the store for a much lower price and provided us with great deals.

Thus, we all left Nice and Monaco with tanned skin, memories of beautiful cars and men, and smelling like roses. I'd say it was a darn good weekend.

To top it all off, when my housemate and I returned home, we received a note from our host mother that said there was homemade pizza in the fridge, with salad.
And just when we finished our dinner, she arrived back from Paris, bringing desserts from her grandson's baptism with her.

Bring on the good vibes.





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