So – changes in weather allowed us to continue our way to the west, avoiding Cartagena (hoorrrray!).
After sailing along the beauriful spanish coast we arrived to a small town San Jose – the last stop before desirable Almeria, that is already Andalusia!
We didn’t have time to discover the town because the first and the second concerns we had were interntet and supermarket. The third and the last one – to get out of there before the sunset, or the night promised to be bumpy and sleepless.
The bay, where we stopped, was surrounded by hills, dry and thorny. The sea was blue, and there was a beach with some naked and dressed sunbathers.
We arranged a walk to the top of the hill, where we found a strange cube-cylindre construstion. All we could do was just to climb it make a photo : )
There’re was a road, leading in unknown direction. And that raised curiousity. So we went up, following the path, without aim, without any certain idea.
From the hill road we could see secret corners of Spanish coast : ) Not deserted, unfortunately.
Not far from San Jose there’re caves but already occupied by commercial firms. But we were satisfied with coastal grottas.
Now we’re in Almeria, right now going to see ancient Alcozaba. Tomorrow leaving to Nerja or Velez-Malaga. Pretty long way, 65 miles, about 14 hours of sailing… See you there : )
This note is from the Mediterranean night. It’s 01:45 and my shift. We’re driven mostly by engine, because there’s almost no wind, and empty sails are flopping slightly from time to time.
Light from the computer is very bright and blind me a little bit. But we’re in the middle of the sea, and no one is around. Big cargo ship has just passed us from the right- but she was the first and only one for two hours.
My watch is from 12 to 4 – “dogwatch”, how sailors call it. This night is calm, very calm, more than we could desire, that’s why we need to use engine. Cris doesn’t want to spend another night sailing, so we try to keep speed.
At this moment I have the most beautiful ceiling in the world. There’s no chance to overwhelm this starry sky! Millions, billions sparkling dots. Or maybe these are holes in a dark canopy, and through them the light from some heavenly world flows gently and makes me dream…
And dreams… all dreams could be fulfilled here just for an hour! Stars are falling, huge meteors are crossing half of the sky. I watch this natural and the most amazing show – and don’t have anything to wish. Am I happy?
…I don’t know. This question is too short and too deep for me to answer. In my life I have already had many moments, when, like Goethe’s Faust, I could say: “Stop, the moment, you’re wonderful”. But I would never do that, because there are so many more and more beautiful of them in front of me. Yes, I’m young and hungry for life.
I imagine what would happen, if one of Big bear’s stars falls. Probably, the world will collapse. Our bear is more beautiful than Southern cross of the Southern hemisphere. Not much time will pass, and I will say “good bye” to you, bear. For long? Who could know. And this unpredictable way is the miracle of our being.
Well, it’s not an introduction to my story about Nice (am I hearing a sign of regret?? : ) Just a funny picture on a T-short in a shop in the city. But there’s something in that, francophons, don’t you think? : )
Now seriously. How we got to Nice. There’s a public bus number 200 (Lignes d’Azur) from Cannes to Nice. Goes from the center (Hotel de Ville, Cannes) to the center (Bermond, Espase Massena, Nice) and costs 1 euro. Better to hop on the first stop, because it’s a little bit overloaded.
Nice is an amazing combination that I was searching for: of beauty of nature – kind and warm Mediterranean sea, the spirit of artistic and free city and history and architecture that reminded me Paris and Saint-Petersburg. That’s undoubtfully a huge sympathy!
I have a slight idea that this connection with Paris is a reason I love Nice so much. Leave the coast and deep to the city – and you’ll feel the same artistic and lively atmosphere. Parks and fountains of Boulevard Jean Jaures reminded me Boulevard Richard Lenoir…
In the evening on Castel plage – music, dances and drinking. So many young people come here to spend time and sing and play, chilled by fresh breath of Mediterranean. Atmosphere is amazing, but after hitch-hiking on route A8 and bus ride we were too tired to enjoy it. That’s why we went to search for a place to stay: on a beach at night from Saturday to Sunday it’s impossible.
Around La tour Bellanda (an ancient tower on a coast) we’d found a memorial, cut in a rock. There’s a Parc la Colline du Chateau on its top, but we were attracted by trees around the memorial that were easier to reach.
In the bush we found out that we’re are not the only people who loved the place. Someone was already sleeping there. As I know, homeless people in France are quite harmless, so we decided that having a neighbour is not that bad. And felt asleep…
In less than an hour we heard load voices just in few steps. The first thought was that that homeless guy lives here not in a solitude. The second – they will try to kick us out of their place.
…but soon I realised that people talk in Russian!
I got out of tent to say “Hi” to new neignbours. They appeared to be Latvian guys who have been wandering through Europe, lived in different cities and do mostly nothing. The main point of their story was that they walk – between places, cities, countries. They spent a week to cross France from the north to the south by foot.
The next day we left bags in lockers on the railway station. It’s 4 euros per locker for 72 hours – but actually there’s no need to pay. I usually just put a bag in a locker, close the door and leave it – and it’s always safe : )
The most amazing place in Nice (along with the beach on weekend evening) is The Old town.
There we found artistic shops and cosy squares, restaurants of all types and street artists. And flee market of course! Like in Cannes, it occupies a huge territory in southern part of the city, right after the wall – Cours Saleya is a place, where it’s possible to spend hours just browsing goods or leave hell of money on things that are not really necessary but so wonderful to have.
On Marche aux fleurs there’s a product market: whatever your soul desires – from candies and honey to sea products and meat. Better not to visit it, when you’re hungry : )
Nice is not a typical resort, expensive and fake. It’s alive city with its character and mood. Artists perform on Place Massena, young people play music on a beach, jazz tunes fill the streets of the Old city. By the way, there’s a big jazz festival in Nice at the moment.
Nice is different – hardworking and entertaining, lazy and hectic. It has backyards and scenes. It’s touristic but has personality.
Nice is a place to live, not just spend a holiday.
We had a look on collection of contemporary art in Musee d’Art Moderne et d’Art contempiorain. I’ve never taken it as an art, but it’s always funny to see. For example, Venus de Milo by Niki de Saint Phalle. Isn’t she pretty, hey?
The next night I met Algerian guys on a beach ( in a line to the toilet : ), and they invited us to spend night in their house. The world is full of hospitable and kind people!
If in Avignon you need to be a skilled driver to get through narrow streets of Old town (where pedestrians have priority by the way), then in Marceille you should be an amateur runner at least. The amount of people running along the coast at evenings is incredible – just look thoroughly to get out of way at a proper moment.
Marceille finally made a pleasant surprise for us (perhaps, scared by my negative reference in previous post :). Searching for a place on a beach to spent night, we met another backpackers. They appeared to be not only backpackers but couchsurfers too. New acquaintances invited us to a beach party where we were kindly taken under care of Kurijn – very nice and friendly guy from Antwerp. This night we spent not on a beach but in his house.
The next day we were leaving hospitable Marseille – and heading to Cote d’Azur!
There were two options to get out of Marseille:
The national road to Toulon A50 – we should take metro till the station ‘Perier’, then walk along Avenue de Prado, reach Boulevard V.Delpuech and walk till getting to a huge road crossing where A50 starts.
Coastal motorway D559 – to take the bus 48 till its last stop on ‘Chairon Vallon de Redon’, walk from the hospital down the street straight and left till we reach Boulevard de Redon. There we start hitch-hiking (not in direction of Luminy! – the road makes a ‘fork’)
Southern coast of France is amazing so we had no doubts about variant 2.
In couple of minutes we got a lift to Castellet. It was short ride but one of the most picturesque. From Castellet – 7 kilometres to Bagnol, cosy and beautiful place. Very south, very Mediterranean. There we stopped for a swim.
After 20 minutes walk to the exit of the town we caught a car till “apres Toulon” – “after Toulon”. On a road met another hitch-hiker – tired and not very friendly. He was aiming on Cannes. Good luck to him!
We were not so ambitious and in two minutes got a lift to Hyers – a picturesque town with a wide alley full of palms and flowers. We made a long walk through it till the local skatepark. Perhaps, there was no need in such a long promenade, because finally we stopped near “zebra” before a crossroad – we passed several places like that before.
…Mediterranean sea wispers behind. The sun grills, but – thanks to chilling breeze from the sea – we almost don’t feel its ruthless heat. Green hills, the sea turquois near the shore and deep blue far from it, fraus-palms, ocean of flowers (some of them smell increadibly!) and red rocks. We’re relaxing on a rock near the shore in a place Le Lavandou. Before we passed a promenade, created by people along the rock right above the sea.
Output: take the road D559. The most picturesque parts are: Marseille – Castellet and Hyers – Le Lavandou.
We left Avignon quite late – after six. Just 100 kilometres to Marseille.
Hugo was so nice to drop us to A7 – the national road to Marseille, right to that pleage where we hopped off on way to Avignon.
In five minutes we’re already driven to Marseille. Intelligent woman who picked us up listened to Bach and tried to speak to us English. We passed a huge-huge-enomous port. And drove through the city centre Vieux Port – a big harbor with hell of yachts. Does a paradise look like that?
The next day we discovered there marine shops – millions of cute and necessary things but sooo expensive! Not cheap to maintain a yacht in the centre of Marseille..
Finally the woman dropped us to the station we needed – “the place of gathering” of Marseille – station “Notre-Dame-du-Mont”. By foot it would not easy to reach because the square and a church itself are situated on a hill. This square is a place where young people gather for a frink and street artists perform. Streets nearby are full of bars and street art.
At this place my friend Emma suggested to meet. I was really glad to see her! And she really helped me to lighten my bagpack – now I can even walk with it : )
Through CS emergency group we found a couch – Blaise invited us to stay at his house, a house in two steps from a lovely lagoon. So –
first time in my life I swan in Mediterranean sea! Uuuhhhhoooo! What can I say – it’s turquouse, it’s transparant, it’s beautiful. But sooo salty! I couldn’t even open my eyes when swam back from a small island neaby (of crs, it was necessary to climb it : ) Crabs and jelly fish made me a company.
What can I say about Marseille… Cities are like men for me: I want to fall in love with them… It didn’t happen here.
Marseille reminds me Cape town – huge port, international, lively, surrounded by sea and mountains. I always dreamt about this type of city. But always fell in love with different ones.
The same is with men in my life. I know what kind of person could make me stay, could make me better. But always fall in love with wrong men – and ready to betray myself for them.
For this moment only one city occupies my thoughts – you know, it’s Paris. But during this journey I will visit many coastal cities, my “dream” cities. We’ll see if it change something or not.
And, down the line, the city is not an architecture or nature but its people…That’s why Paris will be always in my heart.