Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hung Drawn And Quartered! 

Well we were well and truely stuffed by Seville. I'm gutted, we should have had a penalty but the best team won. They didn't deserve to hammer us by such a wide margin though.

The Interlude 

Sorry there has been no update on the Nice saga, but madness at work reared it's ugly head again. In the meantime I have a big game to look forward to, as Middlesbrough play Seville in the UEFA Cup Final tonight. It will be the biggest game in the history of the team, obviously I am praying for a Boro win, but as long as we give our all and our best shot that's all that we can ask for. Hopefully Steve McClaren will bow out in his final game managing the team with a big bang.

We're off to Malvern on Friday and staying over until Sunday, hopefully the weather will be nice, as we plan to visit the Malvern Spring Garden Show on one of the days.

The Nice saga will be continued in the near future.

Come On You Reds.......

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

By The Way Part 2..... 

Part two of the saga is a brief description of what we got up to whilst staying in Nice:

As it was early evening when we arrived at the Hotel Mercure Grimaldi, we decided to unpack and freshen up before looking for somewhere to eat. The room was comfortable and the rate we paid on the Easyjet hotel booking site was a bargain compared to the off the street price. Having freshened up we decided to wander down to reception and enquire about suitable places to eat. The friendly receptionist told us it was best to avoid the restaurants in the nearby Rue Massena, as they tended to be touristy and overpriced, instead she suggested that restaurants near the Opera in the old town were a better bet and suggest an Italian restaurant, which for the life of me I cannot remember the name of, but it was fairly new and the food was excellent. We got there at just the right time as 10 minutes later, queues for tables began to form, it was obviously popular as there were diners waiting for tables throughout the night. The best thing was though that nobody was rushed to finish their meals quickly or asked to leave the tables when they had obviously finished. The restaurant was located on the edge of the pedestrianised street where the morning market is held, near to the Opera Theatre. Having finished our excellent meal we returned slowly to our hotel, to recover from the days trials.

On the second day, which was a Wednesday we decided to stay and potter around Nice, but the first job was to find out the times of trains to Monte Carlo as we planned a trip there fro the Thursday. So after breakfast we had a slow saunter to the Railway station, about 15 minutes walk from the hotel, and picked up a timetable for the next day. We then took a slow walk back down to the promenade Des Anglais, which is the road that runs along the seafront. I love wandering in and out of the small street of places I've never visited before, experiencing the new sights and smells of a city. It has to be said that the French inhabitants were extremely polite everywhere we went, that's nit something you would find in Paris. The small back street patisseries and Boulongeries were filled with tempting treats that for the moment I was avoiding, there would be time for that later.

We arrived at the seafront and found a bench to sit on and watch the world go by, the beach in this area was a pebble beach, thought the weather was fine it was pretty windy so there weren't too many people using the beach for sunbathing, though one or two dog walkers were out and about. We sat and read for awhile and once or twice I watch the aircraft cross in front of us on their approach to the airport, none seemed to have the trouble our pilot had the previous day. At about mid-day we decided it was time to move and spotted a tourist Petite Train nearby which offered a 1 hour tour of the city, so we decided it would be a good way to get some bearings and pointers of what might be good places to visit in the short time available to us. At the end of an interesting little tour we decided on a walk along the sea front to the port would be in order, that killed off a bit of time, there were plenty of expensive looking yachts in the marina and again we sat for a while and watch some locals fishing from the quayside, before returning to the market area to grab a late lunch, which consisted of a couple of take-away ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches grilled/toasted in chiabata bread, we sat in a small park to devour our lunch, relaxing once again as the world slowly passed us by.

At this point we decided that a drink or two was in order so we retired to a small seafront cafe near to the casino and ordered a pitcher of wine to sip whilst we once again took time out and further wind down. By the time we'd finished I think we had reached a point where it felt like time was standing still. A return to the hotel was in order to prepare for the rigours of an evening meal.

This evening we decided to try a little restaurant we had seen just up the road from the hotel, we'd passed it on our way to the station. I think it was called the Davia, anyway it was next door to the first hotel we had visited. It turned out to be a cracking plan, it was only small but very friendly and very popular, but there was one table that remained reserved for the entire evening though no one was placed at the table. The meals were superb, very much home cooked local fair and the staff couldn't do enough for you. It was decided that a return the next evening would be in order as the prices were very good too.

So on returning to the hotel we ended an almost perfect day, I say almost because Nice inhabitants do not appear to have discovered the benefits of poop scoops yet. Though it wasn't a dreadful problems there were enough little messes left around to be noticeable, especially in some back streets and the odd small park.

The next installment will be about watching money ooze by.

Monday, May 01, 2006

By The Way Part 1. 

It's time I did a bit of a catch up and tell you about the trials and tribulations of our trip to Nice, which I mentioned back in March. Well here goes:

We'd booked a taxi to take us to Liverpool airport, we'd booked 15 minutes earlier than we wanted to leave as the taxis around here are usually hopeless. For once this one turned up on time, but that is just about all he did right. For one he didn't know our destination, Liverpool airport, even though we had specified where we were going when we booked a week earlier. On leaving our estate he turned towards the village centre which was the opposite direction to the way I expected him to go, ie. Towards the M58. I asked the driver where he was going so he told me a route that I thought was a bit out of his way, but as it was a fixed price and we weren't in a rush it wasn't too much to worry about. Four miles along his route he decided he didn't have enough petrol and decided to fill up at a local garage, fine we still had plenty of time.

After filling up he traveled another 800 yards along the main road and then decided to cut onto a twisty country lane to cut a corner off where I thought he would head. This was all very well but it was a bloody slow route and I told him so. I don't think he was too pleased with me, it was then that I noticed he had a SatNav device and I asked why he wasn't using it, he replied that he didn't know how to. FFS! Anyhow we eventually got onto the East Lancs (A580) near St Helens and proceeded towards Liverpool, at this point he told me he intended to get onto the M57 and follow the airport signs, probably the best bet at this point, except he went sailing by the turn-off for the M57 and airport sign, and started indicating for the next M57 turn off, which actually heads in totally the opposite direction to the airport.

At this point I stuck my nose in and told in no uncertain terms that, to carry straight on and not to take the motorway. I told him which turn he should have took and told him that from that point on he would take my instructions if he knew what was good for him. We eventually got to the airport in reasonable time as it turned out but no thanks to Mr idiot. He didn't get a tip and I don't actually care whether he got home or not.

We checked into the Easyjet desk with no problems apart from them telling us the flight would be delayed for 1 hour. No problem, what's an hour delay these days. We had a cup of tea an sat down to await our call. There was no more delay, we were called at the allotted time and got a reasonable seat despite the flight being fairly busy. The flight was fairly uneventful until we came to land. As we circled to land I recognised a few places, Monte Carlo, Monaco and Villefranche. We approached for landing and it was a bit bumpy out there, Nice was on the right Mrs C commented that he appeared to be going a bit fast, I looked out and could see the runway, I commented that he seemed to be a bit bloody high as well. He was still coming down and the runway was way, way below us, running to an end fast and we hadn't touched the ground yet. I was rather relieved when I felt the power come on again and the plane began to rise, the pilot announced that due to personal reasons the landing was aborted and he would circle and try again. We weren't told the real reason though.

The aeroplane was landed smoothly at the second attempt, our journey through passport control, baggage retrieval and customs went smoothly, so we continued to the bus stop to catch a bus to the centre of Nice. My attempt to purchase tickets at the kiosk resulted in a load "Non!" from the attendant, he informed us that the bus drivers were on strike. I was beginning to think that someone was trying to tell me something, we had no option other than to take a taxi. I feared the worst as they had a captive market, but my concern was unfounded as a quick conversation with the driver, who appeared not to speak English, ascertained that the taxi was on a meter and the cost would be no more than 35 euros, not great but a lot better than expected. The traffic into the city was very heavy, it was around rush hour, the driver took a direct route and the ride cost exactly 35 euros. The driver dropped us off at the end of a narrow side street and pointed to a building with flags telling us it was our hotel, his English by this point was perfect.

We entered the building that was our hotel, presented our accommodation voucher and was promptly asked if we had pre-paid, we had, so the receptionist informed us we had the wrong hotel, it was the Hotel Grimaldi, we were staying in the Hotel Mercure Grimaldi which was five minutes walk further down the street. The way things had gone so far, I was beginning to fear that the hotel we had booked was probably burnt to the ground, but it hadn't of course, we finally got booked in, unpacked, the rooms was nice enough, the staff friendly enough and we were finally set for our mini break.

I'll continue the saga in the next post.

I Belong To Barcelona.... 

You Belong in Barcelona

When it comes to Europe, you don't want to decide between culture and fun. You want art by day and a big party by night.
Barcelona is ideal for you. You can check out some Picasso, eat some tapas, take a siesta, and then dance all night!
What European City Do You Belong In?

Stolen from Shooting Parrots

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