Saturday, June 22, 2013

Goodbye Switzerland, Hello Italy? Wait, Hello France!

We were sad to say goodbye to Switzerland. Honestly, we loved it so much and I just stared out the windows and wondered how anything could possibly be so beautiful! But our four days were up (it was no secret that mom wished we had just spent the whole week in Switzerland and forgot France altogether), we packed up our bags and packed up the car. It was about a five-six hour drive to Cannes. But about an hour into our drive (we were still in Switzerland), we stopped at a gas station, and all the writing had somehow changed from familiar German to Italian. I wasn't prepared. I racked my brain for the bit of Italian we had prepared ourselves with (Dov'e il bagno, per favore?), and we spent all our remaining francs on the gas station's selection of Swiss chocolate. (Hello, Lindt Cayenne Pepper dark chocolate!!!) Before we left Switzerland, we saw some ruins off a small exit and thought, Why not? We spent the next hour exploring Castello di Mesocco. It  was our last chance to stop, look around us before leaving the country, and may have been one of my favorite things we did in Switzerland!

Yes, that's a waterfall right behind us!

Bianca and Portia

If we were dressed differently, this could be our Christmas card for next year!

Looks precarious, but she's safe!

Bianca loved the castello

Too bad we couldn't go up in the tower
We spent the rest of the day driving through some pretty awful parts of Italy to get to France. I was starting to regret leaving Switzerland at all. We stopped every couple miles (it seemed) at the vast amount of toll booths. When we needed to stop to eat, it was seriously a lot of work and embarrassingly, we ended up stopping at McDonald's. We tried several different places but the cucina (kitchen) was always closed! I'd later find out that it's very normal in Italy for a restaurant not to be open during lunch hours. I was just so happy to find a bathroom and sustenance to get us to France. And wow, do the Italian people LOVE McDonald's. It was crawling with people. Eric and I are wondering if we shouldn't just move to Italy and open up a McDonald's!

Yes, we came all the way to Italy to eat at McDonald's
Things didn't look up when we entered France. Still, way too many tolls (I don't even want to think how much money we spent on toll roads alone) and there was a huge traffic jam through Nice. As we were driving through Nice, I was very grateful I had decided not to stay there. I don't think I would have liked it as much as we ended up loving Cannes. We stopped on our endless search to find an ATM machine and Portia had to go to the bathroom. Halt--enter French! Mom took some French in high school, so I told her she was in charge of getting us through France. We ended up at a boulangerie (bakery) buying cookies in the hopes that the woman would take pity on us when we asked her for a toilette. She didn't. She pretended like she didn't know what a toilette was. Fortunately, some motorcyclist succumbed to the pleas of grandma begging in broken French ("Enfant, toilette "s'il vous plait?), and he let them use the bathroom in his motorcycle shop. (Merci! Merci! Merci! Merci! they all thanked him after the fact). Still, we got some pretty decent cookies to tide us over until we reached Cannes.

We found this little hair salon entertaining at the end of our drive:

Anyone else see the problem with naming a salon Oops!!!?
We parked our car in Cannes and didn't think about it again for the next several days, as we could walk everywhere! The man Michel who rented us the place also lived in a different section of the house where we stayed and had his daughter there (Portia's age) and a cousin, plus four cats! This gave Portia a French-speaking playmates (but isn't play a universal thing?) and cats to seek.

Portia and her French friends
We loved how extremely French this old house was, although the stairs were very creaky.

Our dining room was lovely with lovely fresh flowers and antique tiles

Our French house
Bianca had a loft above the kitchen for her private sleeping quarters.

Bianca's sleeping arrangements in Cannes
Eric and I had the most amazing view of Cannes and the Mediterranean from our bedroom window:

Ahh, we made it to Cannes
Michel gave us a caddy for grocery shopping and sent us to the grocer before things closed for the evening. Thank heavens most people were more than willing to speak English with us (not the rude French people I was expecting). Thus begins our adventures in France. . .


So it's not exactly a door per se, but I'm guessing there used to be one there
A door in Cannes


Joe and Marci said...

Jeana, these pictures are beautiful! I love reading about your trip, but I've been especially looking forward to France :) What a great adventure!

Susannah Harper said...

I love the family photo. You could totally use it for the holiday card!