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Monday, August 27, 2012

The Great Europe Adventure begins!

We had a very tiring train ride from Switzerland through Milano to Genoa, Italy where we
spent the night.  We got into Genoa late due to missing our train in Milano and lost an hour. 
Too tired to explore Genoa we checked into the hotel then walked and ate pizza with wine.
Got up early to catch the 6:45am train to Monte Carlo, yeah that is the one with 27 stops!
Long ride, but we caught glimpses of the Mediterranean along the way.  Made it to the
Marriott and met up with David & Denise.  Monte Carlo is unbelievable, there are multi-million
dollar mega-yachts anchored everywhere.  We went to the Jacques Cousteau Museum and
visited the royal palace of the Prince of Monaco.  Very nice to see a functioning palace.
Then we ate a great dinner at a tiny restaurant run by a father-son team that Denise had
found.  I had the tuna and it was awesome.  Had a lazy breakfast at a nearby cafe named Les
Oliviers, but didn't find any cousins.  Pretty good coffee and croissants though.
Then we took the train to Nice and picked up a rental car.  We have to pick up the boat on
Sunday afternoon so had a free day with no plans.  As we were driving and talking about
where we'd like to spend the night Denise shouted "Sainte Marie de la Mer, that might be by
the sea!"  So we all said "why not?" and took the next exit.  We drove for almost an hour
along this little country road following the river wondering if we should have done this or not.
Finally the terrain starting changing to marshy ground and we drove into this neat little town. 
We followed the road to the end where we could see the Mediterranean, passing all of these
little cafes and shops.  We found the greatest little resort town and it was the last Saturday
night of the "holiday season" so the local people had the town packed all having a great time. 
We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the local ambiance, had a snack with marinated
olives, fromage panini, beer and wine.  Then found a little restaurant and had a wonderful
fresh fish dinner.  Not knowing the local fish varieties our waiter brought out a platter of fresh
uncooked fish for us to choose.  Cindy and I split Loup, which was similar to speckled trout
and D&D chose the Lotte which was monkfish.  Both were incredibly good.  After dinner we
walked through the maze of little streets browing the shops and watching all of the locals
enjoying a good time eating and drinking.  Little kids running everywhere, it was truly a joy
to see a local small town, with NO highrises!
We watched some folk dancers performing in front of the bullfight arena.
Then we headed a few kilometers out of town to find our hotel for the night since the town
was totally booked.  It was already dark when we found it after taking a wrong turn.  It was
separate bungalows and we couldn't find an office so as David was trying to call I found a
doorbell hidden on a post.  So we finally made it and got a pretty good night sleep. 
Now we have to find another adventure before we get to the boat.
After a breakfast of coffee, juice, croissants and baguetes we headed to Port Cassafrieres.  It
was a nice ride through the french countryside.  We stopped at a fruit stand and then a
grocery for essentials before turning in the rental car and getting a taxi to the boat.
The boat is very nice, 13.5 meters long with 2 staterooms and a huge flying bridge.  After
being checked out we headed to Marseillan, a quaint little town with a harbor for the night. 
After going through 2 locks which were relatively easy, and with the women handling the
ropes and David spotting me, we crossed a small bay and managed to back the boat into a
spot alongside another boat while battling the wind.
We walked through town enjoying the sights then ate a great dinner at a restaurant at the
harbor.  The church was built in the 1100s and still in use today.  And of course found a
gelato stand.
Today is another beautiful day as I wait for coffee to finish brewing.

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