Sonntag, 4. Mai 2014

Interrail - Day 15: Nice /Nizza

So far our trip had been working out pretty smooth. Taking one train after another, waking up in new cities every day and booking hostels just the day before arrival. (Yeah I know: risky business...)

But suddenly we seemed to be completely out of luck: We could not find an inexpensive way from Barcelona to Italy. Nita and Sunshine had booked a flight, but we couldn't afford to do that, so we had to find a different option.

It was no problem to get out of Spain, but from France over the Italian border seemed like a huge deal for some reason (at least for the French):
When we were in Paris we asked at almost every train station to get seat reservations for those stupid trains which crossed the border. And apparently the French have a brilliant system where they only have a certain amount of seats for Interrail travellers. And if these seats are used up, you have to buy a ticket for the normal price of the train ride like every other guy inspite of the fact that you have an interrail pass. We then asked if there was a way around this huge load of bullshit they tried to sell us, but they made us believe there wasn't any other way.

On our second try we asked for the way to Zürich (Switzerland) to then be transfered from Zürich to Milan via night train, but again no luck: "fully booked for Interrailers, please pay the normal price".

Normal price, my ass!I mean what did we pay the interrail pass for?!
So we looked on the website of the SNCF (the French railway company) to search for other options and found other trains the guy at the station didn't show us. But it said "reservation compulsatory" again... We got a little desperate... On the website we found an English hotline number to make reservations etc. In hope to be connected to someone who speaks English, so that we could explain them better what our problem was and maybe adress then more politely than in my a-little-out-of-practice-French we called up the hotline. But as expected we were greeted with "Bonjour, avec quoi est-ce que je peux vous assister aujourd'hui?".

When I asked if there was an English speaker I could talk to, they seemed make little chitchat with everyone in the office, just to inform me that there's no one "at the moment". (Oh have I mentioned that the hotline is obviously not free? Just for the record: Taking so long to ask one simple thing might not be the best approach to start a conversation with impatient clients.)

I speak French, so it was alright, but still... why care to have an English hotline if you don't have people speaking English on the other line? Anyway...I asked them if I could reservate two seats on the train we had looked up on the internet. They said yes and my heart jumped for joy! But as soon as I mentioned Interrail, it suddenly became impossible. They apparantly hadn't heard about it. They passed on the phone, so that I could explain to a new French guy what I wanted and then the discussion, if it was possible or if something like Interrail really exists, started all over. It was madness, MADNESS I tell you!! Then they told me to hold for a while, but I could again hear chitchat in the background and not the helpful kind, but the Hey-let's-drink-a-glass-of-wine-after-work-kind of small talk...(Seriously! I heard people laughing - and at some point I got paranoid that they were laughing at me because of my rather bad French...). I wasted another eternity waiting for the guy to come back on the phone and here is what he told me: Please ask at the train station. Words of Wisdom, my friend, words of wisdom... Then I got disconnected.

If it hadn't been Johanna's phone, I would have smashed it by throwing it hard on the ground and jumping aggressively while swearing like a sailor! Oh and thanks, France, YOU WERE NO HELP AT ALL!! We wasted 5 Euro on nothing! (Just writing this down, made me mad all over again.)

We were left with nothing, so we got even more desperate. We scanned the internet again and found regional trains to take us to Nice and then from Nice further over the border. But regional trains are really slow, so we had to plan in an extra night in Nice... but they were our only hope.


From Barcelona (28th of March) we took a train to Perpignan and from there the fun with the regional trains began... Some of the trains were so full of people that they sat on the floor. Almost no fresh air to breathe. I think we had to change the train at least 4 or 5 times. I can't remember. I was much too concentrated on not throwing up because we always had backwards facing seats... It was terrible. One whole day passed just riding the train. Headache...Dizzy...

We finally arrived in Nice and looked for our hostel, lying down for a moment. The moment turned into a night (Giving me enough time to give a short review about the hostel: Hotel Pastoral, a cute little place with a nice and helpful owner and a self-catering kitchen. The included breakfast is not really big, but the rooms are clean and we had a bathroom inside our room for a change, which was really nice.)

Nizza / Nice

The next day (29th of March ) we went to the beach right away. It's about 10 min. walking distance from our hostel. On our way we made a little window shopping. The little boutiques had a cute collection, but nothing that really screamed: "Hey, buy me!" When we finally reached the beach, the sun was blazing and all that was left to do was to surrender the sun and lie down for a while.

The waves crashed on the beach.
The sun warmed our skin.
The sea gulls screached a little, but the sounds didn't really matter anymore.

We had found our Oasis:

Time to chill and just forget the world!

We literally did nothing for a few hours. So we decided to get some food (just a few fries at McDummy) and then decided to walk a little along the beach promenade. It was so gorgeous. A little alley lead us to the famous flower market. Even before we reached it, we could smell the beautiful flowers.
From one paradise to another.

The flower market is a real typical French market (or at least how you imagine it from all the movies). Colourful stands with all kinds of goods: Flowers, Soap, Fruits, Vegetables, Fish, Meat, Cheese, etc. People looking around, chatting and exchanging the newest gossip. Harsh, but very loveable hackeling over prices and discussions over the quality. It's fun to just watch the others, but the smell of these flowers! So amazing! I couldn't get enough of it. I knew right away that I had to take some of it home.

So I bought a little soap right away: Lilac! And some marmelade. (Yummy! )

We then continued our journey with another regional train over to Ventimiglia (a tiny Italian city). 
We finally made it over the border.

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