vieux nice et le carnaval!

15 February 2009 at 7:06 am 5 comments

Before this weekend, I was apprehensive about how it would turn out. My roommates both left on a trip to Barcelona, and other friends took excursions to Marseilles and Milan… but I chose not to because on Friday, AIFS was taking a trip to Vieux Nice to meet a group of French Tourism students who were to take us on a tour of the old town. I had hoped to meet a French student that I could become friends with, and perhaps be my “Échange Langue” (a language exchange program). Unfortunately, I didn’t hit it off with many of the dscn1500students (I’ve learned in cross-cultural social situations, I am much more timid than I am usually. Something I need to work on), but we did get a lovely bi-lingual tour given by the students. We saw landmarks such as le Place Garibaldi (a central square), le Palais Lascaris (an old residence of an aristocratic family turned into a museum), many lovely churches, and L’ascenseur de Chateau. I think the latter was my favorite place… you take an elevator (or, if you’re brave, take the stairs), to the top of a small mountain to see a grand view of the ville and a quaint park at the top. The view was beautiful, as to be expected in the Cote D’Azur.

Although Friday was a pleasant afternoon, I returned to the college with a sense of disappointment. No échange langue, we didn’t get to see much of the Carnaval de Nice (a sort of Mardi Gras celebration in Nice), no new friends or roommates to hang out with in the evening. I feared that I would end up spending the rest of the weekend in my room, wishing I’d joined Bre and Tahvia in Barcelona.

Fortunately, my weekend took a turn for the better when my new friend Craig invited me to come hang out with him upstairs. Granted, we had a quiet night, watching Flight of the Conchords (one of my favorite HBO comedies) online rather than exploring more of the Cannes night life, but I was content, particularly since he then invited me to join him and some of his friends in Nice the following day.

Throwing flowers from the Float
Throwing flowers from the Float

dscn15671Le Carnaval was a blast. In the afternoon, we saw the Bataille de Fleurs (the Flower Parade) which was so much fun. Streamers flying; music blasting; confetti everywhere; silly string strewn across the ground, the parade-goers and the landscape. Extravagant, floral floats; lavish, colorful costumes and makeup; marching bands, acrobats, men on stilts… it was so much fun! The people in the parade were throwing flowers at the crowd… I wasn’t very good at catching them, but one of my new friends caught quite a few and gave me some of her flowers at the end of the parade.

carnaval-de-nice

Throughout the afternoon, we explored more of Nice, stopping for an afternoon snack at an Irish Pub and then later for dinner at a French Restaurant. We once again made it to the seafront, and this time some of us bravely climed the stairs to the top of the “chateau” which was yet again a grand view. We also were hanging out with this great Australian couple (Becca, the wife, happens to be studying at the College International, and we serendipitously ran into the two of them in the train station), which was so much fun, as they were great people, and they knew Nice much better than we did and showed us around.

It began to get late and we decided to head back to the train station, but when we got on the tram expecting it to take us there, we were forced to get off at an earlier stop! However, this was yet again a serendipitous occurence, as it dropped us off right near the Carnaval and during another parade! This one, the Corso Illuminé dscn1687was definitely like a party on the street. Everything was lit up, with strobe lights flashing and even MORE silly string strewn everywhere. This parade was what I’ve heard called the “Big Heads Parade”: massive floats with giant heads lined the streets. Unfortunately, one of our group hadn’t dressed quite warm enough, so we couldn’t stay for the whole thing. Nonetheless, it was an awesome experience even for the fifteen minutes that we were there.

We took the train home (which was amazingly clean and efficient, and it felt like we were floating… I love public transportation in Europe) and turned in after the exhausting day. Today the plan is to relax and enjoy Cannes by myself. While I initially hated being alone in my room on Friday, I’m kind of enjoying it today. It’s quiet, and I can relax. The sun is shining through my big window, and I can hear African drumming outside of it (not sure why, but it’s great). It’s supposed to be mostly sunny today, so I might head down to the beach and get some reading done.

I will be posting pictures from Nice, so check out my photos tab for those. I apologize for the excessive amount of pictures from the parade, but I couldn’t help myself from snapping them! Believe it or not, I am actually posting  a condensed version.

Updates on life in Cannes will be coming soon!

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monaco & eze ma chambre

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Baird  |  15 February 2009 at 7:47 am

    There are few better words in the English language than “serendipitous”.

    I love your photos from the festival, although I’m never quite sure if I’m more amazed by the Big Head floats or more terrified.

    Yay for awesome places easily reached by awesome public transportation! I’m glad you’ve been having such a good weekend. I hope the peace of today is just as lovely.

    Reply
  • 2. Victoria  |  15 February 2009 at 11:02 am

    Oh that sounds like soooo much fun! Mardi Gras is on the 24th!! I’m super sad you’re not around ‘cuz the fam’s having a party again this year. 😦 We’ll miss you heaps. And your pictures are spectacular!

    Don’t worry your pretty little head about your sudden cross-cultural shyness. As far as I can tell, that’s a super universal thing. People from different languages may seem extremely shy, though 98% of the shyness comes simply from the language barrier (whether consciously or unconsciously).
    Fortunately, if you can just grit your teeth and force yourself to talk to someone, it usually works out well. You’re definitely good enough that the little mistakes you may make will seem extraordinarily charming.

    Reply
  • 3. Jennifer Hanks  |  15 February 2009 at 12:39 pm

    I agree, I loved how our Nice trip on Saturday just sort of worked itself out. Going with the flow proved to be effective in this case. It was cool just running into the Australians, and having to get off the tram and seeing the night parade. We will have to have more rockin adventures in the future for sure!

    Reply
  • 4. susy  |  15 February 2009 at 4:04 pm

    hey pretty face! I’m sorry I haven’t tuned into your journal until now- sounds like your having a good time. Here in Africa the program students go out all the time but I don’t sometimes I just chill and catch up on my thoughts so don’t feel bad about not going 24/7. I missssss you!

    Reply
  • 5. Adam Vaccaro  |  19 February 2009 at 8:10 am

    That’s a solid adventure I dare say. I’ve noticed that potentially lonesome situations frequently become great times, personally.

    Reply

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Sarah in Cannes

Welcome to my blog! I am studying in Cannes, France for Spring of '09 and will be telling my stories here.

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