Nice

img_1409

I went to Nice on the 4th of August – three weeks after the terrorist attack on their promenade. That trucker had just driven for two kilometers (1.3 miles) across the crowd of people, leaving the boulevard covered with bodies.

When I arrived after my long trip through Monaco, I was hit by the fact that you couldn’t tell Nice had just been through Europe’s Katrina – I found Nice surprisingly similar to New Orleans, yet more discrete [yeah, I don’t know either, is it being French or is it being Nicean?]. In both of these cities you can hear a lot of music and see people living their lives fully, trying to make it up for the catastrophe and create a new order, based on joy and happiness. I’m not saying it works. I’m saying there are people trying to do something good and there are people, who want to be cool. Yes, there’s crime, there’s poverty, there’s desperation. Yet in these two cities you can see rise of the music scene, which helps people deal with what happened through giving them freaking loads of fun. I mean seriously, what’s better than a street brass band? Or all the jazz going on in Nice!

The only sign of anything ever happening was that every time that I tried crossing the street with an English manner, someone would stop me. At some point I said ‘hey, the car was so far away!’. My friends answer was just: ‘dude, we’re in Nice’.

It wasn’t easy to me at the beginning. My CS host, Bryce, disappeared two days before I was supposed to come to Nice (which was on the 3rd), he would not answer my calls, texts, emails… nada. I had to stay a day longer in Sanremo; I contacted Zied, another Couchsurfer who’d agreed before to host me; he said I could come to his place, just he’s got some friends visiting and I can’t tell them about CS, I need to pretend I’m his friend. Ok, Zied, not a problem. The other guy, Bryce, on the 5th he texted me something like: sorry, I forgot, bummer, it’s better you’re not staying with me. What a guy. I kept it cool and polite.

Once Zied opened his door, we became friends. Such a great feeling! And he seemed so active – he cooked, we played music, we spoke about deep stuff, then we went out to the beach, met his friend on the way, I visited a night club for a loo, we played some music on the beach, he went into the water, I just sang even more, we tried finding a place for a beer, yet all of them were serving shitty shitty French bear, so every time we smiled and continued the search; finally we found an interesting one and got kicked out of it, then we sang in the streets and walked home. All of that after 6:30 pm, when I arrived to his place. Awesome, I love active people!

img_1410

We both loved ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ and I think we played it so well. I had fun. So much fun.

And then one night out in the city, with his girlfriends and some ice cream, we bumped onto that CS dude, Bryce. He didn’t recognize me first, when I told him he did not apologize. All he did was being a dickhead and hitting on the most lawyer-looking of the girls.

The next day Zied dropped me off on a gas station and I went off to Marseille. Well, not that fast. Actually it was tragic. But I met a Peruvian guy called Genghis Khan. Very handsome. Didn’t speak English at all.

The history of my trip to Marseille will be a separate post, for now I’ll just finish Bryce story. I decided I should have left him a reference and so I did. I wrote that maybe he’s great, I don’t know, yet my experience with him was shitty, I was feeling insecure, stood up, ignored and surprised he didn’t even say sorry when we met’. A month later motherfucker gives me negative reference saying stuff like ‘it was a personal emergency, I explained it to her in advance, she behaved demanding, as if I was a free hostel, she was rude blah blah blah blah’. WTF Bryce? I was extreme angry, that was just so not fair!

The moral is: some people are assholes and some are less.

Check it out:

img_1414img_1413img_1423

 

 

Advertisements
Nice

How I got kicked out of a country*

*  joke of a country, yet legally still a country.

 

The last time I was trying to follow any time line, I shared my stories of Italy. Let me tell you what happened next.

I was hitching from Sanremo to Nice. An Algerian couple stopped, they didn’t really speak much English, yet they knew all the other languages: German, French, Italian, Spanish… uneducated me. They were going to Monaco. For a moment I hesitated, I didn’t want to go into the country, yet I decided to go with them and just play it by ear.

Unfortunately we ended up having communication issues and I ended up somewhere in Monte Carlo, just on some street.

I walked up a hill, had a coffee – the stuff was basically waiting for me to leave, they were very surprised when I tipped them; and it’s not like they’d done anything to deserve it, I just thought: fuck it, I’m in Monte Carlo, I need to tip – that’s one of those point you cannot miss on your trip to that place.

I left the restaurant and went walking towards the highway, following the signposts and cars which seemed like they really want to escape. No place to stop though, only pavement, roadway and the places which suck out all your money; stores which sell caviar worth 400 EURO per rather small portion; casinos; I continued walking.

I turned around the corner and there it was: a place with loads of space for me to stand and well, some space to stop the car for a minute. I stood all happy with my sign saying ‘NICE I’m nice to J’ that lovely old lady came by and wished me luck in both French and English, the sun was beating and I was feeling rather sick.

There is this reddish scar on my neck, this itchy, painful, suspicious pink thing of unknown origin. I covered it with a scarf, yet that made it only get worse from the heat. So I wait for the lift quite desperate, my water’s almost finished, and there he is, a cop of a motorbike arrives and says something in French, very angry.

‘I’m sorry, I don’t speak French’ I say – in French, ‘Do you speak English?’

‘We speak French here’ he answers – in English, ‘Autostop – no no no’ he adds shaking his head with disappointment and wavering his finger like if he wanted to have it stuck up his own ass.

‘Not true’ I answer, ‘I checked it and no, it is not illegal to autostop here’.

He starts yelling in French, getting red, says something about me not even speaking the proper language and he says ‘no autostop in Monaco. You need to leave the country, now.’ – in English, ‘I will go up the hill to the border and wait for you to leave’ he says in French, gets on his motorbike, says ‘move!’ and takes off. He also mentioned somewhere that the end was a km away;

It was at least a mile and a half.

So with a backpack on me and a guitar in my right hand, covering the pink thing on my neck with a scarf using my left hand, feeling very sick and angry, I walk up the mountain. There is no shade, it’s around 12:30 – the exact time of when I did not want to be on the road (I don’t know yet, how hot it will get). My bottle is almost empty, there is nowhere to refill it – around me only houses and expensive short-term rent apartments.

I begin to lose control, I’m barely  moving, my body is dehydrated, I am tired, my neck feels weird – when I turn my head left, the left side of my mouth starts to roll saliva like crazy. And it burned. It was so hot, my head was uncovered… My used the scarf covering my neck to cover both, my head and the pink scar.

Suddenly – there it is. A little booth with a Dunes, or however that joke of a country calls their border guards; and the mean cop.

I come up and ask the guard, in French, ‘Do you speak English?’

He barely looks at me, says ‘no’ and turns his face the other way.

‘Is it France or Monaco?’ I say in French pointing at a piece of land.

‘This is Monaco’ says the guard – in French – looking at the place where I’m standing, ‘and that is France’ he says pointing at two steps away, on left.

I’m furious. I take two steps into France, just so as to past him, turn around and look at them; my heart is beating, I am burning, my head is beating, the mind using its full power to control my reactions. I smile like a loon, rise my ‘NICE I’m nice too J’ sign up and stand there, in front of them, on the street.

They were angry, a little bit, and then I just went away, to sit down on a bus stop and get my shit together. I checked it, the bus would come in 15 minutes so if I didn’t get a ride sooner, I can just hop on ; And yeah, I didn’t get a ride…

The bus was 1,20 or 1,50. I should have just taken it in the first place!

I arrived to Nice, scored a pharmacy for something for the weird burn, a pub for a sandwich and went off to my next CS host, one of the most important ones (even though the last time we saw each other we were rather hostile); that’s a new story though and I’ll save it for the next time.

img_3709

 

How I got kicked out of a country*

Quick update from the road – Italy

I’m alive!

I have been traveling for three weeks now and just now got a chance of sharing some of my stories with you.

First of all – I knew it’d be a chalenge to travel Italy, France and Spain without knowing the language, yet sometimes it was just too much. On the other hand it gives you so much crazy satisfaction once you get across the language barrier!

My first ride from Milano to somewhere 1/3-way to Sanremo was a truck driver Tony who in English knew only ‘hello’. Yet we spend a whole hour talking, playing the music together and sharing our stories; somehow. We WANTED to communicate and so we did. If I try describing Italy in one phrase it will be: Italy is very humid, the people don’t know English, yet want to tell you a lot so they try, the women are loud and tabacchi bars are much better than pizzerias.

My first host, Alex, was a … special person. This time CouchSurfing didn’t go crazy. Yet I have met somebody else (in a way through CS, really – just by an accident), a very special person I believe. Hoomam.

He decided to leave Siria after a bomb had exploded next to him. He’d escaped to Sweden where he’s spent half a year living in a refugee camp and learning Swedish; he’s been doing so well that not only after being given residency he became a Swedish teacher, but also speaking English he had Swedish accent. Very lingo-talented, whatever I told him in Polish, he’d repeat with a perfect pronaunciation. Apart of that a very very very amazing person. I had so much fun with him. Serious, so much fun!

Here is us and some canals of Milano:

IMG_1373

And then we met in a Craft Beer Pub Michele – a guy who were supposed to be my CS host but I never requested him. But yeah, the universe brought us together so we could sing ‘Feeling Good’ in the rain of Milano and then take separate ways.

IMG_1391

What else happened in Milano.. I went to the Sforza Castle and found that amazing spot I was not allowed to enter.

IMG_3542

And I climbed (yoged!) that monument in order to take a picture of the Duomo. Faces of the guys having food downstairs, as I pull myself up in my mini dress and of course nearly show my butt – priceless.

IMG_3499

*****

Next step was Sanremo. Apart of my first amazing Tony ride, I drove with an English teacher who just did not know English. I’m being super serious here. Very sad.

Sanremo… very nice. I stayed with Paolo, had a little chill, rode around on his Vespa and checked out the nearby cities and beaches (including the beautiful Busana Vecchia, a true reason for me to come to Liguria), crossed some other language barriers… pretty satisfying. Apart of two things.

  1. my Nice (not so nice) host, Bryce, decided to just disappear two days before I was supposed to stay with him. That story will return in the France part.
  2. Paolo did me some fixing as a physiotherapist and osteopath and something very weird happened to my salivary glands. That’ll will return in the Monaco story, for which I need separate post.

Sanremo had amazing visual side. I mean… just check it out.

 

And so Busana Vecchia. One day in Cracow, years ago, out of nowwhere Jimi jumps on me and Pawel and he starts telling us we have to visit Busana. That amazing place, which was deserted after an earthquake in the end of XIXth century and then, almost a hundret year ago populated again by artists and hippies moving into the ruins and taking care of them. When I found out it was on my way from Milano to France, I had to go there. The reason I went to Sanremo was there was no CouchSurfing in Busana. I felt like there would be a few places to stay there, yet wanted to have the comfort of knowing I wouldn’t be homeless 😉

And so from there I hitch to Monaco. To be continued…

 

 

Quick update from the road – Italy