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Photo by Josephine Flohr, Elephant at Camp, Namibia

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Josephine Flohr,
Elephant at Camp, Namibia



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  #391  
Old 30 Dec 2014
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Lots of families out for Christmas shopping




The French do food very well! But we are on a grocery store diet...

Neda is still suffering from stomach problems, which is making her quite miserable. It's been a week since leaving Pula, and our pace is pretty relaxed, so we're not too certain that stress is the cause. I did some Internet diagnosing, which is sometimes not that useful because just about every symptom could just as easily be a cold or be ebola at the same time...

It sounds like she may have some kind of food allergy, so I'm putting her on a diet and cutting out all of the usual suspects. There'll be no gluten and no dairy for her for the next week. Hopefully we can pinpoint the cause of her stomach problems.


Mosaic dome of a church peeks out between the narrow streets of Vieille Nice

It's such a shame it's so rainy and overcast, I can imagine this city being much more colourful and vibrant in the summertime!


Place Massena offers a cool checkerboard promenade


It also showcases some weird sculptures - a bunch of nude men kneeling on platforms on top of tall poles...

I don't get modern art. Not at all. I don't have a background in art, so I can't explain why I like certain paintings or drawings over others, but I can succinctly sum up why I don't like this kind of art: I just don't get it.


And then this one. A huge black arc sitting on the lawn. What does it mean?

I looked this one up. "Arc de 115.5 degrees" by Bernar Venet. Was erected in 1988 to commemorate the centennial of the naming of "Nice" or "Cote d'Azur". But... what does it mean?!!


More Avant-Garde Art?

The ferris wheel is still under construction for Christmas. Neda ventures out into the middle of a fountain that just shut off when we arrived. Not knowing how long between waterworks, I chickened out and just took pictures from the side. I was actually waiting for the fountain to start up again so I could laugh at her when she got soaked... Didn't happen. Oh well.
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  #392  
Old 30 Dec 2014
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Their relationship looked to be on the rocks...
Oh Gene, that's just soooo bad
Happy New Year to you both from downunder
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  #393  
Old 31 Dec 2014
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Hi Gene, if your still in France, have a look at Carcassonne. Its a mediaeval 12th century cathar fortified city.
You can stay in the city itself, there are 2 hotels, the best western is the cheaper of the 2. There is also secure parking for the bikes.

This is really well worth a visit.

Rob
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  #394  
Old 3 Jan 2015
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Happy New Year to you both from downunder
Thanks! Happy New Year to you too!

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Originally Posted by XS904 View Post
have a look at Carcassonne.
Thanks for the tip, Rob. Unfortunately, the weather didn't work out for us..
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  #395  
Old 5 Jan 2015
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/191.html



We left Nice in the rain to continue our march across Southern France. This was going to be a wet ride and we knew it, so we headed back on the highway to try to make short work of today's journey. We're headed to Marseille, second-largest city in France.

It's only three hours away, but the rain did not let up for the entire ride. At a few points on the Autoroute, I could feel the bike hydroplaning on top of all the standing water collecting on the highway. We eschew road etiquette and ride in the middle lane, staying on the crown of the road where there was less water.

No pictures, obviously, as both hands were white-knuckling the grips the whole way!


Marseille was the French Empire's most important port city

We're staying a couple of days at an AirBnB, great place, but still not as cheap as we'd like it.

To help ourselves negotiate around here, I dust off my Français skills. In Ontario schools, it was a mandatory course up till Grade 9, at which time I promptly dropped it. It's times like these when I wish I had stuck with it longer because the French words feel rusty like nails crumbling out of my mouth - painful to watch and listen to.

Normally Neda is very outgoing when it comes to talking to strangers. However, because she doesn't speak any French at all, I found myself having to carry all the conversations at hotels, grocery stores and gas stations. It was so interesting watching her shirk away from having to talk to anyone. Whenever somebody approached her, she would immediately tap on the communicator or tap me on the shoulder, "Uhhh.... Gene!"

What a complete role reversal from Latin America! I got a little taste of what it was like having to take point for all communications and I respect Neda more for it.


Notre-Dame de la Garde church, built on a hill
can be seen from anywhere in the city


The first day in Marseille we got rained in, so we spent the day cooped up watching the water fall from the skies. The weather co-operated with us the second day and we took a stroll around the port area of Marseille to get a feel for the city.


Monument aux morts de l'armée d'Orient et aux héros des terres lointaines - what a mouthful!


Looks like our Arc-Friend from Nice, Bernar Venet, has been busy in Marseille as well. I still don't get it...

Right on the Bay of Marseille is a nice spot called Pharo Garden where you can see the harbour and most of the port. On the lawns of the garden sits another modern sculpture called Désordre (Disorder). I'm renaming it "The Graveyard of Giant Three-Ring Binders".


View of the harbour from Pharo Garden. Fort Saint Jean on the right, Bulbe à Clochers Church on the left

Walking through all the war monuments and forts, reminded me of just how influential the French Empire was. It had such a huge role in the colonization wars in which it raced against Spain and Britain to claim territory in the Americas and all around the world. It struck me that in all of our travels across Latin America, we marveled at the imprint of Spanish invaders on the land, when back at home, we could've seen that same imprint that France left on Acadia and French Canada.

Our journey across the ocean to Europe has been like coming back to the source of history in the Americas.


Monument aux héros et victimes de la mer (Monument to the heroes and victims of the sea)
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  #396  
Old 5 Jan 2015
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Peugot's three-wheeler, the Metropolis, is France's answer to Piaggio's MP3
and is the most popular scooter in the French Riviera



Look! Up above! It's... us.


Seems like every city in the French Riviera has to put up a ferris wheel for Christmas!


Bear-Nice (Sauce?)


Les Oiseaux en Colère!


Walking around the old part of Marseille - called Le Panier

We were walking around a part of the town called "The Sidecase". hehe. We visited the Givi Hotel, Hepco Becker Boulangerie...


Laundry day

We've seen a lot of people wearing hijabs and thobes in the French Riviera. About one third of the population is Muslim, the city was liberated from German occupation at the end of WWII by soldiers from Northern Africa. The last time we we were here, it was the summertime, so we stayed mainly on the beaches and back then we thought only pasty white (and lobster red) British people lived here!
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  #397  
Old 5 Jan 2015
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Brown farms on the French Riviera. This must be so colourful in the summertime!

We found out that Trevor has settled into a little French villa in a small town called La Cadière-d'Azur on the coast between Toulon and Marseille and to return the favour, he's invited us to stay for a few days. So that means we're going to kick back and relax and not worry about hotels, AirBnB or Français for the next little while! Très bien!

We doubled back on the coastal road - D559. I've been staring at this road on Google Maps and my GPS with dread for quite some time now. Just an hour east on this exact same road from where we're staying is where I had a bad motorcycle crash 7 years ago that left us stranded in Côte d'Azur for a week... on this exact same bike I was riding now.

I could feel my bike underneath me taking the turns with just a hint of hesitation, a touch of tentativeness on the throttle...


Parking in Trevor's little French villa


View from our patio. Beautiful!

We've been very fortunate that we've had access to a kitchen for the last few days. Neda has been on a strict non-gluten, non-dairy menu for almost a week now and her gastrointestinal problems have abated somewhat. We're going to give it a full week to see if goes away completely.

"Hey Neda, you know what they say? No grain, no pain!"
She rolls her eyes and shoots me a distasteful look: "That's terrible."


Grocery run! Essentials like French wine and lots of gluten-free legumes and lentils for Neda.

While browsing the grocery stores we've noticed a lot of Rosé wine on the shelves. Seems that Rosé is the specialty wine in the French Riviera because of the ambient temperature and soil conditions. We also scour the shelves for food that will fit Neda's new diet.

"Hey Neda, I guess you're wheating out all the bad foods!"
"... you are the worst person that has ever lived!"


The new diet

This is what she makes pretty much everyday and since I'm so lazy, I end up just eating what she cooks instead of preparing my own meals. I've never eaten this healthy before in my life.

I don't like it.

"Hey Neda, looks like I'm a gluten for punishment!"
"I hate you."


I find D minor is the saddest of all keys

To undertake this trip, we've stripped ourselves of all our belongings besides what we can carry on our bikes. It's been two and a half years and we've carried no more than a weeks change of clothes suited more for hiking than entertaining. No cars, snowboards, dirtbikes. No house, no fridge, no drawers full of the bottles and jars of liquids and goop that make men smell manly and women look pretty.

We've realized we don't miss most of it. But during all this time, it becomes glaringly obvious which things (besides the people) we've left behind that leave a hole in your life. For me, it's music. I look forward to the day when I can have a room and fill it with guitars, a piano and a drumkit in the corner.

Neda wants a room too. She wants to fill it with shoes...
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  #398  
Old 7 Jan 2015
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Well worth the read !!

27 pages of pure joy, great photos, good prose. Much to enjoy.

Thank you.
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  #399  
Old 7 Jan 2015
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Morning Sickness ?
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  #400  
Old 9 Jan 2015
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27 pages of pure joy, great photos, good prose. Much to enjoy.
Thanks for following, glad to have to have you with us!

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Originally Posted by birddogvet View Post
Morning Sickness ?


Neda was spewing quite a bit. But not from her mouth.

I'm gonna get in trouble for that, aren't I...?
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  #401  
Old 9 Jan 2015
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/192.html



It was a very relaxing time in La Cadière-d'Azur. We went out for walks in the pretty countryside (when it wasn't raining), Trevor and Neda took turns making dinner each night, and over wine our talk would turn to all the places we'd "maybe" point our front wheels towards. Trevor travels much like we do: no schedule, no plan. A few months ago he guessed he'd be in Asia by now, just like we thought we'd be in Argentina right now... but things happen, stuff changes and you just end up going with the flow.

I sometimes get the sense that people think we're being evasive when we're non-committal about our plans for the future. "What do you mean you don't know where you're going? How can you not know?!" Here in this tiny town that nobody's ever heard of, in the middle of the French Riviera, it was refreshing to drink, eat and just chat about the future using nothing but shrugs, "maybes" and "perhaps".

Some travelers find comfort in schedule, but for us, the freedom to float and wander is a dreamy intoxication.


Bags all packed, ready to hit the road again


Bye Trevor! Thanks for putting us up, and for taking this pic!

We took advantage of the clearing weather to bid adieu (or however the French do it here) to Trevor. We're pretty confident that we'll run into each other again.


Calanques are steeped-wall inlets typically found in the Mediterranean

The best examples of calanques are the Massif des Calanques just south-east of Marseille. Since the weather was so nice, we took the twisty coastal road back west with zeal, parked the bikes and hiked for 45 minutes to peer over the cliff tops of the Calanque Sugiton into the Balearic Sea.


Strong winds whip through our wind-proof gear and threatens to blow us over the edge!


We spent quite a bit of time marveling at the beauty of the jagged coastline


This range of calanques runs about 20kms along the coast, and sometimes extends to about 4kms inland

It's a very popular area for hikers - we passed by so many on our hike to the coast. We felt very out-of-place with our motorcycle gear on while people power-walked passed us clad in spandex and carrying those funny hi-tech hiking poles. There are many well-marked trails so it's hard to get lost. We remarked to each other how unlike these trails were compared to the very primitive ones in Central and South America.

The only thing that could have made these easier to follow would be little blinky coloured lights on either side of the path and an information booth every 100m...
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  #402  
Old 9 Jan 2015
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Simply stunning!


Here's a short video of us riding the coastal roads past the Massif des Calanques


Approaching Marseille once again

The weather was still on our side, so we stayed off the Autoroute and headed inland. Neda heard that there was an amphitheatre in nearby Arles, so she wanted to check it out (which means, she wanted to see if it was better-looking than her hometown amphitheatre in Pula). We couldn't find affordable accommodations in Arles, so we're staying in Nimes which is only 30 kms away.


We seemed to have picked up another rider somewhere in Nimes. We're a motorcycle gang now!

I may have overstated my French-language skills in the last blog entry. Everywhere I go, my attempts at Le Français is met with blank, uncomprehending stares. I repeat my words often, and slowly the people I'm talking to piece together what I am trying to say. Then they repeat what I just said. Word for word. Didn't I just say the EXACTLY SAME THING?!? Is it my terrible imitation of a Quebecois accent or something?

Very disheartening...


Laundry day in Nimes?

Since we were here in Nimes we spent the day checking out the town. We found out that there are many examples of Roman architecture right inside the city. And they aren't ruins! They are in remarkably good shape!


Hanging out at the Maison Carrée. It's the most well-preserved Roman temple found anywhere


French Bullfighter?


The non-gluten, non-dairy diet continues. Red wine is allowed!
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  #403  
Old 9 Jan 2015
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The city is so empty at night. This isn't Italy anymore, people don't sleep during the day here.


Dammit! My camera was just a couple of milliseconds too slow for a great shot!


The Nimes Arena

It turns out Nimes also has a Roman Amphitheatre, we just happened to stumble upon it while walking around. We did a circle around the structure and then Neda peered inside it. She sniffed and proclaimed: "Yep. Ours is better."

I agreed instantly without any hesitation at all, whatsoever...


It is done up nicely with lights that change every few seconds though... oops, did I say that out loud?


Gothic Cathedral Saint-Baudile


Maison Carrée lit up at night

It's been over a week on the non-gluten, non-dairy diet and Neda is still experiencing GI issues. We were seriously thinking about going to a doctor to get it professionally diagnosed.

I normally don't get up before Neda does, but one morning, I happened to catch her at breakfast. She was spreading a thick layer of Nutella over a slice of toast.

"Um, Neda... Nutella has dairy in it."
"So what? I've been eating this my entire life!"
"Well, maybe you should stop eating Nutella for a little while, just so we can tell if that's actually causing the problem or not."
"Well, maybe you should shut your dirty piehole!!!!" (except she didn't say it as nicely as that)

At this point, she was fiercely protecting her jar of Nutella, much like a mother bear would protect her cubs. I sensed I was in imminent danger, so I dropped the issue and backed away slowly.

A couple of days later, I found a half-full jar of Nutella in the trash can. Neda's GI problems had completely disappeared overnight, replaced with a palpable sadness that hung in the air.

This is one "I Told Ya So" that I'm not going to say out loud. Because it would be met with... well, death.


In Hollywood circles, this happy couple was known simply as "NedTella".
This is my heartfelt tribute to a long-term love affair that still ended much too soon...
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  #404  
Old 12 Jan 2015
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Allergic to Nutella? That is the saddest thing I've heard in ages.
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  #405  
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Neda was spewing quite a bit. But not from her mouth.

I'm gonna get in trouble for that, aren't I...?
Not at all Gene.........we won't say a word

A woman in chocolate withdrawals would not be an experience I would care to live with, so good luck with that Gene
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