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Relaxing under the occational shade of a palm treeJan. 19-25, 1999 The French Riviera

Nice, France
Hey, what the . . . I open my eyes as  the warmth suddenly stops bathing my face - the heat from the afternoon sun abruptly interrupted by its temporary pass behind a palm tree. Laura and I are relaxing at one of the sidewalk cafes by the Promenade des Anglais, Nice's famous beach-side pedestrian boulevard. We have spent the morning doing very little of anything, just the thing to do while in this picturesque little town on the French Riviera. Our surroundings are so relaxing, that there's simply no reason to be anywhere else. Not that we could leave, even if we wanted to. It seems the French rail workers are in the middle of one of their all too notorious labor strikes. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to 'suck it up' and 'tough it out' for the next few days, stuck here on the crystal blue Mediterranean coast. Yep, we'll just have to stay, and just maybe take this same seat each day. Take this same sidewalk seat to watch the continuous parade of passerby's as they walk, roll, strut, and stroll under the palms and along the sand.

The sunny beaches and crazy characters of NiceIt's this seat that offers a matchless vantage point to look for, and spot, members of each of the various 'people groups' of Nice. First, there are all the pretty people (the most common species). Next, the group of people who think they're pretty (plenty of these too). And a close third - the people who want to be pretty. And finally my favorite, those who don't care to be pretty. The same goes for all the WOF's (well-off folks) - people who have lots of the green stuff (actually Francs come in a variety of bright colors); those who think they're well-off; the ever-present and almost all-inclusive want-to-haves; and lastly, again my favorite, those few that don't really care too much about money.

Enjoying a show from Mother Nature, sunset over the French RivieraAlso for our amusement as they clomp just by our vantage point, are the hooty-tooty women prancing around in their full length furs, only mere feet from the 'who-cares' women, soaking up the sun in nothing but their underwear. We look on as the youthful in-line skaters nimbly weave in and out of the contrasting sight of the stiff elderly plodding along with their four-point walkers. A team of cyclists woov . . . woov. . . woov, woov, woov's through the red light, while a Porsche and Rolls have to slow to a stop just in front of us. The action continues with strollers yanking their dogs to their sides on their leashes, and fishermen plucking squid out of the surf on their hand-drawn lines. And then there's the two of us, the strangest of all the 'types', content to soak in the scenery, as we soak in the sun, kicked-back, relaxed, and taking a welcomed break from the 'gotta do this, gotta see that' pace of the last few months. "Now, where's my sun?"

The almost hidden, very tranquil, mountain-ringed cove of Eze sur MerEze sur Mer, France
It was on one of our day trips from Nice that the scenery finally got the best of us. "Um, how 'bout this one?" "Sure, I guess" Laura blurts as I pull open the doors of the train and step out at this, my completely randomly chosen stop. We walk no more than a few hundred feet down to the shore of this almost hidden, very tranquil, mountain-ringed cove. We settle in on a little perch above the pebble covered beach, and watch the sun slip down over the western-most crest of the inlet.

High above the bay of Port de MonacoMonte Carlo, Monaco
It's mid-morning on Sunday as I sit on our balcony, a dice's throw from the waters of the bay of Port de Monaco, to reflect on the events of the night before. The sun, still low over the southeast end of the harbor, glitters into the still water from the tall white masts of the Monaco Yacht Club's sailboats, as they gently bob back and forth. On this side of the harbor, I watch two pairs of girls carefully slip their long, slender, sliver-like boats into the water for a little early morning sculling practice. The peacefulness of the scene is temporarily broken by the song of a highly-tuned Italian engine, dropping an octave as it gears down to negotiate the hairpin turn just below me. I admire its agility and wonder if maybe its driver is daydreaming. Daydreaming that he's leading the pack into turn seven of the Monaco Grand Prix. I know those would be my thoughts - if only it were me behind the wheel of that silver Ferrari, tight turning wheel in one hand, hair-trigger shift knob in the other, zipping through the same streets, by the same shops, through the same tunnels, that compose this, one of the world's most famous race courses. Yes, folks in Monte Carlo seem to absolutely love, and have no pretense about demonstrating, their passion for both racing and fast cars.

High stakes are just part of the game at Casino de Monte CarloIn fact, it was just last night that we walked through what looked more like a exotic auto show, than a simple valet parking lot. But sure enough, that's all it was, just the parking lot of the area's most popular attraction - the Casino de Monte Carlo. Red, blue, black, silver, white, yellow, even purple. Porches, Lotus', Maserattis, Ferraris, Mercedes, Austin Martins, Lamborghinis, even a few Rolls and Bentleys thrown in for good measure. Each immaculately clean, lined up and shining under the bright streetlights. It leaves no doubt that this is where the world's rich and famous came to play (and an occasional lowly tourist comes to watch). Not being much of the gambling types, most of our time at the casino was spent doing just that - watching. Craps, blackjack, roulette, and of course, the slot machines (we did pop a few Francs into these bandits and yank their one arm, only to watch over and over again as the spinning bars and bells absolutely refused to line up). There were chips flying everywhere. We watched the gambler's faces as they were in . . then out, up . . then down, happy . . then sad. Each concentrating on every flip of a card, hop of the ball, or roll of the die to determine their fate (and their mood), until their next chance to bet. I spot one particularly unhappy looking fellow all but slumped over one of the craps tables. It's hard to say for sure, but by the looks of it, he may have just rolled snake eyes and lost his purple Lamborghini.

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Last modified: July 02, 1999    Photographs and text 1998 Scott and Laura Kruglewicz. All Rights Reserved.

 

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