5/10 & 6/10: Day’s Seventeen & Eighteen
Europe to Indonesia
Last moment in Corsica. My alarm interrupts my sleep and ,while I’m tempted, I know there is no time for the luxury of hitting the snooze button. I drag myself up, have a quick shower to wake up and freshen up. I know for the next 30 hours, minimum, I won’t be able to shower. The stretch that starts out this morning…..will ultimately finish in Bali tomorrow evening.
I have a few last minute changes to my packing and head off. I find the airport easily and arrive with plenty of time to spare. I wait patiently for check in with another couple of guests, and it is a good 20-30 minutes before someone opens the check-in counter and serves me. The frustration of knowing I could have taken my time is soon forgotten as the reality that this is it, sets in. Bags checked I head back now to go and deliver the hire car. It takes me ages to get out as the machine won’t accept my credit card. After having to go back inside the terminal to pay cash, I am eventually out of the car park and lined up at the boom gates which leads to the Hire Car section of the parking area. I am parked behind another car and not much is happening. Slowly, one by one, cars begin to pile up behind me. There are people everywhere trying to talk to someone on the speaker to sort out why the gate won’t open. I remain seated as the conversations are all in an angry form of French…..turns out some words are the same Universally!!! I’m not sure how, but someone managed to get the boom gate up and stood in place to allow all the cars to enter. By this time there are about 20 odd cars filing through. I know I am now pushing it for time, so I quickly lock the car and make my way to the hire company offices. Nobody is around and a gentleman shows me where to put my key. It all seems a little unorganised but I have no time to stand here trying to debate it.
I am running now, through the airport to find my gate. I order a kick Cappucino and throw a croissant into my mouth. They are now calling for us to board but I am finishing this drink!! I’m not sure I ever remember smashing through a breakfast that quick.
Finally I board and am seated beside a Frenchman who now lives in Ajaccio…..originally from mainland France. The flight feels as though we’re no sooner in the air before being told to prepare for landing.
Since I do not have to waste time waiting for baggage I buy bus tickets for bus 98 into Nice and return. Nice is pretty. It’s large but has a small community feel about it. The streets are alive and colourful and walking through them exploring the sights, smells and tastes of Nice is exhilarating. I make my way to Castle Hill and climb to the top. They are doing some maintenance works at the very top so there is no access. I am high enough, though, to bask in the beauty of this historical city. Nice, with its many tales, still captivates people enough that the city is thriving with tourists. It is hard not to get caught up in the magic. I am aware that my strides are not leisurely like those around me, but I am on a mission-I still have boxes that need ticking before I leave Europe in a few short hours.
I cannot resist a ride on the Carousel that looks like it leapt straight out of a Childen’s Fairy Tale book. It is exquisite.
“Parlay Vous Anglaise?” I ask the man in the ticket booth.
About to dismiss the idea of a ride I resort to google translator and ask the man a series of questions, to find;
Yes adults can ride on it
Yes I can take a video while I ride
Yes he will take a photo of me on it
Yes he will stop it when I’ve had enough, because I have things to do.
Before I leave I thank him and his smile beams back. He is adorable!
“Au Revoir. Monsieur….merci” I say, and he nods, still smiling. “What is your name?”
“Jack”. Of course it is! Now I am beaming. Between me and google translator I ask him to write it down. I look at the note he slides across to me, expecting to see, Jacques.
“Just like my Dad” I tell him, knowing he hasn’t got a clue what I’m saying. Even the handwriting seems familiar. I take the simple note with ‘Jack’ scrawled across it and once again bid him farewell.
I find a post office, post my postcards to the grandkids and wander through Bielefeld ville one more time toward the Promenade. I am determined to have escargot and frogs legs in France before I go. Time, again, is beating on my door and I know I’m pushing my luck. I scan the shopfronts and am drawn to the friendly disposition of a young man explaining to potential customers what they have to offer. The couple decline and I ask, “Parlay Vous Anglaise?”
“You would like to sit inside or outside madam?”
“You would prefer upstairs overlooking the Promenade?”
Figures. He leads me upstairs and I fall in love with this place as I enter. The decor and ambience of this place is a pleasant surprise. The shop front, while nice, does not reflect the heart and soul of the interior. Before long I am presented with my escargot, frogs legs, some other surprise entree and my large beer! I am happy. The sun is beating down on me and the scene before me is spectacular. The food is delicious, the beer is cold and the staff are friendly. The setting really is just a bonus.
I watch with amusement as armed soldiers patrol the streets below. They cross the road in front of traffic which has a green light……any arguments?? NOPE!!
I could happily have stayed longer, the atmosphere relaxing and casual, but I need to find a bus stop and catch the 98 back to the airport. I thanked Benjamin and made my way back out to the street. If you’re in Nice and want a relaxing meal that truly reflects France….check out ‘The Warehouse’ overlooking the Promenade. Delightful!!!!
The directions I am given lead me in the wrong direction and I am feeling a little frenzy setting in. I ask a lady in a “pushbiketaxithingy” if she knows where I need to be. She gives me directions, I ask how much for her to take me there and she explains that she has a set route and minimum price. I acknowledge this and thank her anyway…..she clearly feels sorry for me and follows me to tell me she will take me there. I am mesmerised by this lady’s ability to dodge traffic in this thing, the jury is still out on whether I think this would be easier getting around in or harder? You have more room to move, but you’re also so exposed to nearby vehicles.
Anyway she obviously knows what she’s doing and manoeuvres easily through traffic and delivers me to my bus stop. I am leaving Europe anyway, so I give her whatever notes I have. She appears very grateful and I make time for a quick selfie before she disappears into the crowd.
Bus 98 arrives shortly after and I get on with a few minutes to spare.
At my gate, I throw a Pumpkin spiced frappuccino from Starbucks down the hatch and we commence boarding. I had forgotten the thrill of being on a Qatar plane…..wonder what this journey has in store.
By the time the captain announces we are about to take off, the two seats beside me are still vacant.
I spend the trip catching up with some journal writing and after 5.5 hrs we land in Doha. I get a chance to look around this trip-3 hrs to be exact. It is massive! To get to our boarding gate we have to catch an indoor train, then the ‘conveyor’ walkways. Feels like I’m now in another suburb! The wait is long and I’m now starting to feel really tired. When we board just after 3am, I am keen to get on and settle in to try to sleep.
The couple beside me are lovely and speak English! Not that that really matters because all three of us wrap up in the courtesy blankets and close our eyes…..no small talk here.
After 9.5 hrs my arse is sore and my feet are swollen. I limp off at Bali airport and think about the massages ahead. I am bombarded by missed calls and messages once I am through customs. My daughter informs me that a young friend has been in a severe car accident. The tears are instant and I cannot stem the flow. I make my way through customs, a blubbering mess. Sending my love and prayers to he and his family.
I check straight in to my room at Kuta Station and collapse onto the bed, tired and preoccupied with the recent news. I allow myself some time to compose myself and then head out for a massage and then some dinner. Can’t really gauge how good the massage was because I think I slept as soon as my head rested on the massage table.
It is not until after dinner I remember I am in Bali, where potential customers meander around well into the night while the rest of the world sleeps. I decide to try the massage place out on Sunset Rd that my kids and I discovered years ago. It is getting quite late so I accept a lift on a scooter the first chance I get. Now, I’m not a fan of the exposure and therefore danger of being on a motorbike of any shape or form, but the Balinese make it seem like a breeze so I’m happy to be at the back clinging on like a bloody koala!! The reality is, even in the daylight I’d probably struggle to find the same place so as soon as I see a massage place that’s still open, I indicate that I want to go there.
Inside I am served quickly and notice there is only an hour left before their midnight close time. The masseuse has strong pressure and after ensuring her it was a ‘good pain’ she continued to try to knead out some of the knots. Don’t think this is what they call a happy ending!!! I was in tears! Despite it being after midnight, the staff at Reborn continued to pamper me when my massage was done. Asked to sit and relax, I did so while they prepared fresh fruit and juice for me. There were a few others sitting around also and the atmosphere was tranquil…..there was no pressure to hurry and no indication that the staff were anxious to get out. I caught a taxi back to my hotel and crashed the second my head found the pillow, wondering vaguely as I drifted off, if my phone was on silent.
Luv you 40-leven