Monday, January 10, 2011

Nice to Kuala Lumur

It was the last day of our tour in France. We flew off from Nice airport.
The Hotel Negresco on the Promenade des Anglais on the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) in Nice, France was named for Henri Negresco (1868–1920) who had the palatial hotel constructed in 1912. It is one of the most exclusive deluxe hotels in the world. It was classified a National Historic Monument in 1974. I liked the Statue of the Negro in the front of the hotel. That is why I did a little research on this hotel.
Another 20 hours plus of travel (4 hours transit in Dubai) we touched down at KLIA on the 11th day. Was our tour of Italy and France good, enjoyable and without complaints? Nay.......I think the tour company GTT should be given thumbs down. We were sent on a tour with a guide who speaks little English and who knew very little of Italy. I/we thought that it was not the guide's fault that the few of us who actually went for the tour to know about Italy and France but came home knowing very little. We have one group who went for sightseeing and another that went for shopping. We wasted time waiting for those who went shopping. How can a reputable tour company like GTT send us on a tour with a guide who knows so little of Italy? The only good thing the guide did for us was check us into the hotel, make sure our luggages are in the coach, leave on time and be back on time. These things, we give her the thumbs up. This is one lesson my family learnt and in future, we will ask for a guarantee that the guide speak the language we understand and the company provide a guide who is more knowledgeable. Also, make sure that it is sightseeing tour and not shopping! If you intend to travel, I think this will help you. :o)

Nice to Monte Carlo

We got back to Nice for lunch. We walked down a street that looked like a back alley to get to the restaurant where we had our lunch. We had escargot, roast chicken with vegetables and ice cream for lunch. A taste of French cuisine after a week long of Italian cuisine was a joy. French cuisine is anytime better than Italian. Could have kicked myself as my camera was stuck! Aarghhh....!
After lunch, it was back to the coach for another ride. It was to Monte Carlo in Monaco.
The view outside my window was beautiful but the bus travelled too fast for me to capture any more shots after the above picture.
I caught sight of this structure (do not know what it was) and knew we have entered the country of Monaco, the second smallest country (by size) in the world only the Vatican City is smaller. Monaco is also the world's second smallest monarchy, and one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
Our coach driver had to make a stop here for some Immigration clearance which, took like forever. The coach was locked and no one could was allowed to get down for any toilet trips!
We are in Monte Carlo, one of Monaco's administrative areas. Monte Carlo is well known for its casino. We did not see much here, as it was already dark. However, we did enjoy the Christmas decorations and lights. The above pictures showed the many Christmas trees with lights that changed colours; from blue to green, to white, etc.
I saw this car, could not resist taking a picture. I thought the car was awesome (but the owner...high and mighty. My description? Ugly!) There was not much we could do here. This place is for the rich and our currency is Ringgit not Euros! We strolled around the place and as it was raining, we went into the casino to while away the time. Then it was time for us to get back to the coach. Gosh, finding the place where the coach was, was a task. We got lost and it took us quite many turns before we located the parking place. It was back to Nice again.:o)
**Day 9

Nice to Cannes to Nice

We stayed in Nice, a coastal town on the Mediterranean Sea located on the French Riviera, between Cannes and Monaco.The last of our tour days and I woke up to see this....what a great weather. The view was across the balcony of our hotel room. Hmmm.... what is in store for me in Nice? That was my thought on that morning. We were told the perfumery would be our first stop.Nearly all the beaches in Nice stretch along the sweep of the bay between Rauba Capau and the airport at the other end of the Promenade des Anglais. (Three pictures above)We were taken to the Fragonard Perfumery and museum. I am not into perfume (not at that moment) so I stayed only for a while inside the perfumery. I decided to go outside for a walk.These berries found growing on hedge are not edible. They looked juicy and inviting but they are poisonous.Our next destination was Cannes where the Festival de Cannes is usually held. This year it will be held on the 11th to 22nd of May 2011.Gare Routière de Cannes, in the centre of the city, near the Town Hall. Hand prints of film stars found on the Cannes Walk of Fame. It is winter. The beach was deserted and quiet. We decided to take a walk along the beach to enjoy the sound of waves lapping and the beautiful surrounding view.
What a beautiful Merry-go-round....I saw this at the Promenade de la Croisette.
This is where the rich and famous shop in Cannes, Rue d'Antibes. You can find all sorts of designer clothing, furniture and jewellery. I forgot about the shops when I saw these flowers on the sidewalk. I have always loved to look at trees in winter. These are found in Alles de lar Liberte Charles de Gaulle, that is a short street in the heart of Cannes. From here, you can walk across to the Marina.Outside the Marina, I saw a stall selling some snacks and drinks. I bought the crepes and churros. It was the churros that caught my attention as we have crepes back in Malaysia. Churros are fried-dough pastry-based snacks. They are deep-fried and sprinkled with fine sugar. Ring a bell? Think doughnuts. Yes, they are like the doughnuts we get back in Malaysia. I mean the plain doughnuts. I have not seen and tasted churros before, it was my first time (actually every one of us in the tour). Some churros are made from potato flour.
I took a walk into the marina. I was not sure if it was allowed but I wanted so badly to be near the 'toys' of the rich and famous.
The view was so picturesque and I did not want to move or take my eyes away. The choice was not mine but I have to as we have a journey to continue.We left Cannes and headed back to Nice for lunch. :o)
**DAY 9

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Venice -Milan-Nice

We travelled to Milan from Venice across the flat farmlands to Lombardy in darkness. A reason there are no pictures of our journey. Its wintertime.
The Duomo di Milano from the Square where you can go up to the rooftop and get a panoramic view of Milan. . This Gothic Cathedral took five centuries to complete. It is the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world. We did not venture inside as by this time we felt we have visited enough cathedrals. We decided to do some shopping and enjoy the atmosphere with Christmas round the corner.If you are one, who loves designer wear and goods then you should visit this 19th Century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and its glamorous shopping area. This place was planned and built by Giuseppe Mengoni in 1864. You can find Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuiton, Salvatore Ferragamo, etc. here. If you do not much money to spend (or find it a waste on designer things), then just enjoy the building and its architecture. There was something we did here we stepped on a 'bulls testicles'! In the centre of this Galleria, find a bull mosaic on the floor. Step on the bull's testicles with one foot and while making a full turn make a wish. As most tourists do, make three rounds. Remember to take a look at the hole made. Poor bull.....! Have fun here.We went to a cafe recommended by our Guide to sample their desserts. This cafe is known to serve delicious desserts. We had the tiramisu (not to be missed out), panna cotta and pannetone (pic above). Panna cotta is an Italian classic. Pannetone is a type of sweet bread loaf originally from Milan usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year in Italy. Picture of the handsome waiter who served us. He took a great picture of himself but terrible ones for us. The pictures he took of us turned out all blurred. Aarghhh.....If he was not this cute....!!?The toilet in the cafe was unimaginable. I could not resist taking a picture of it. The waiter was right in telling us that they have 'film star' style powder room. Milan was our last city in Italy and we left for Nice in France. It was 'Arrivederci', 'Ciao' or maybe 'rivederti' to this beautiful, so full of history country. I have to say eight days just was not enough! Where I am concerned, what I got was just a glimpse and nothing more. :o)

**Day 8