My husband always tries to give me a good birthday. This year, we went to Cannes for five days. We packed our bag and road tripped into France. 645 km (more or less) later, we finally arrived. We took a route that had us cross underneath the swiss alps and into the Italian region. We then drove through northern Italy into the southern coast of France. Parts of Italy were quite boring to drive through with it being just flat land, but then as we got closer to the french border and closer to the ocean, Italy became a series of bridges and tunnels, bridges and tunnels, bridges and tunnels. It went on for a very long time. Our poor GPS unit had to constantly change from daytime screen to nighttime screen and at some point gave up and had to be reset altogether!
Cannes was exciting to get to. We left a very rainy Switzerland and were looking forward to the nicer weather. What we weren’t prepared for was the amount of traffic we encountered, made worse be the city undergoing construction. We were late for my birthday dinner out, but not by much.
We had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant called L’Oasis. We had the chef’s tasting menu which was quite delicious, but oddly a large amount of food. I regret not eating only half of everything I was served because at the end of our meal was a fabulous fillet
of beef topped with foie gras, which I could not finish and then what they call the “dessert Caravan” which I couldn’t even select a dessert from because I was so stuffed. Also, they had a dessert appetizer!
My husband and I enjoy splurging on fabulous meals when we visit a new place and there always seems to be one course from the tasting menu that really gets our attention. With L’Oasis, it was this half boiled egg, still served within the egg shell with caviar and on the side, toasted slices of what I can best describe as a smoked salmon and grilled cheese sandwich. It was absolutely delicious. The egg was perfectly cooked and the saltiness of the caviar really accompanied it. The smoked salmon and grilled cheese sandwich slices were to die for. Who knew such a combination would work? And it did! As I was eating that course, all I kept thinking was how great it would be as breakfast after a late night of one too many glasses of wine!
After a very delicious, but filling meal and a day spent in a car traveling, we were happy to just head back to our hotel, Suite Affair, which ended up actually being an apartment and not just a hotel room. It had one weird design though, in that the toilet was located at the front of the apartment near the door and just the toilet. If you wanted to wash your hands afterwards, you would have to walk into the kitchen or the other bathroom which had a sink and shower, but no toilet. We also ran into a slight problem that since it was an apartment, it didn’t supply you with all the normal things a hotel room would. Thankfully, there were two sets of towels and the usual soap/shampoo combo on the shower wall. A hair dryer was acquired each day from the main lobby and then returned, as there were only 4 for the entire residence to share. The apartment was much more than we needed for our stay, since we spent all our days and most our nights out, but it was still a pleasant place to stay.
The next day, we took a long walk along the port and beaches of Cannes. It was such fantastic weather and I was in awe of all the yachts. As we walked where the Cannes Film Festival is held, things started to be a bit more like Hollywood, with scattered street performers. One gentleman in particular, wasn’t performing, but he would make really large bubbles. My husband and I spent quite a bit of time just watching him and photographing the bubbles.
The afternoon was spent in Monte Carlo, Monaco. The F1 Grand Prix had just happened
not long ago, so the city was still set up for it. This made walking around a bit more difficult, yet it was still exciting to see the remnants from the race. We then made our way up the hill to visit the Palace and the surrounding grounds and town.
As evening began to approach, we made our way to Eze, which is a very old town sat on a hill. Unfortunately, it had reached that point in the day when many things had begun closing, but a walk in the old village was still a beautiful sight to see, if not terribly exhausting. Eze is also home to Fragonard, a well known perfumery, but it was a Sunday and already closed for the day.
Monday was my birthday and on this day, my husband bought us VIP tickets for Marineland. It was a fantastic day that started with breakfast by the penguins, followed by a tour of the entire park and its animals. Our VIP experience then moved onto the dolphin and sea lion encounter. As an animal trainer, you can imagine that these kinds of experiences are not necessarily as exciting for me since I kind of am able to do this as my daily job (when I am working) but this doesn’t mean I don’t get something exciting from it anyway. As anyone can tell you, animals are never the same each day, so there are still interesting experience to witness even within these public encounters that maybe other people can’t appreciate. I’ll leave my observations for a different post though. For now, I will just say it was still just as exciting to get into the water, wearing these oh so sexy fishing trousers, and getting up close and personal meeting these dolphins and getting to touch and interact with them. The sea lion encounter was a bit dryer of an experience and we got to touch these animals as well.
The whole VIP experience was finished with us watching the orca show and then going “back stage” for a more close up look. This part I really enjoyed because the orca is my reason for working with animals in the first place. They were working their oldest and dominant female a bit after the show and we got to observe and ask questions about the whole training experience.
Afterwards, we were on our own to explore the rest of Marineland and watch the rest of the shows. Marineland has a nice collection of sea lions. They have south african, california, patagonain and stellar sea lions. Our close encounter was with the south african sea lion. They had a small show with the stellar sea lions which was absolutely exciting to watch. The sheer size of these animals is incredible. The males can weigh over a ton! It is absolutely incredible to watch these huge animals perform the same balancing tail lift behaviors as the smaller sea lions can.
Speaking of sea lions, their sea lion show, which featured the California sea lion, was great. These shows are usually comedic. The theme was a trip around the world. One of the cute bits from the show was when they went to Italy and the two shared a plate of spaghetti a la Lady and the Tramp style.
The dolphin show was exciting. Dolphins are so amazing. I have been to many a dolphin show. I always enjoy seeing new behaviors. There were three that happened that caught my eye. One was when a dolphin leaped out of the water and a trainer tossed it a small ball, which it caught in its mouth and then tossed right back to the trainer. The second behavior that caught my eye was a hula hoop behavior. They had taught the dolphins to swim backwards, up on their tails a bit, while spinning a small hula hoop on their rostrum. I found it simply amazing to watch. The third was when a group of trainers and dolphins in the water, swam in formation. While the crowd is ooh’ing and ahh’ing over the leaps and jumps, it’s the little things that catch my attention, knowing how complicated and just how much skill and work is needed to perfect certain behaviors.
The day ended with a sudden thunderstorm and dinner at a local restaurant that was of course, very good.
Tuesday had only one plan, to go and visit Fragonard in Grasse. After a free tour of the factory, we stopped in the shop and indulged a bit. The products really were wonderful and I was happy to walk away with some nice new perfumes and hubby got some new scents as well.
Afterwards, we decided to take the long and scenic route to St Paul de Vence, only, as we were headed there we decided to perhaps visit a winery. So, our trip ended up in Nice, in one of the very select and special wineries of the region. We came home with two cases of wine in the car.
On our road trip to St Paul de Vence, which was scratched for a winery in Nice instead, we stumbled upon the medieval village of Tourettes sur Loup. It was a breathtaking view that caught us by surprise while we came around the bend. The city itself looked so small and old and is a poplar tourist destination known for its lavender.
All in all my trip was a fantastic one. I have learned that you need to be a very aggressive driver in France to get anywhere and the Italians couldn’t give a fuck about lanes. They often like to drive in two lanes at once on the highway. Euro coins come in handy for all the parking and highway tolls. Oh and the next time somebody says, “wow, the Swiss really love their tunnels!” I’ll assume they’ve never been to northern Italy.
You can see more photos from my trip to Cannes, here.
© Semi-Charmed Life