Already waking up to birds singing and listening to frogs at night is now a long distance memory. This time last week I was packing for the weekend away in France to celebrate my friends wedding. It was also my first non family or course obligation holiday, break since 2011. 3 days away, 3 days back and it’s like I was never away!
My friend and I met when we were neighbours and hit it off straight away. It amazes me that we come from completely different cultures (British and Vietnamese) yet, her and her then room mate, Huyen, who’s also a great friend have much in common and always have something to talk about. Maybe not food, ‘You don’t eat fish either?!’ What do you eat! We may not see each for weeks, months or like this weekend a year and catch up where we left off. Those are the best friendships!
Linh was beautiful. They’d already got married a few weeks earlier in Hanoi and earlier that day at the town hall, a formality in France. Antibes Cathedral was the final ceremony! The whole service was in Vietnamese, so I have absolutely no idea what was going on! Fortunately for me, everybody spoke great English, which helped at the reception. I was seated next to Huyen and I think we caught up on everything! The biggest surprise however was at the reception. Linh is/was 4.5 months pregnant! I did have a sneaky feeling in the cathedral, but thought no, she would have told me. She wanted to tell me in person!
P couldn’t come due to work, so it was just me, myself and I and I surprisingly had a great time on my own some. I also surprised myself with my driving. Driving in France can be hairy at times and the hire car just had 6km on the clock. Brand spanking new. No pressure. Full insurance? Yes please. I had some tight parking reverse spots I would have panicked about previously. Lots of reverse, 1st, turn the wheel as much as you can, you can do its. Sometimes you’ve just gotta get on with it! I also asked for a room change, something I might have just accepted before. I stayed in an apartment hotel so I could eat my veggies and the first room stunk of smoke. Being a holiday weekend, I knew they’d be fully booked. Smiling and asking politely worked. I was transferred to a non smoking room with a sea view from the balcony if you stuck you head out.
The ceremony was on the Saturday and I arrived Thursday to stock the fridge. Friday being May Day everywhere would be closed. My plan worked. After landing and collecting the car, I had 45 minutes to find a supermarket! Friday, I knew exactly where I’d be running. When I first received my invitation, my first thought was ‘She’s getting married! Yay! My Linh’s getting married!’ Second thought, ‘I can run in the park!’ The park I spent many hours running and biking around. 10km of birds singing, light drizzle, green all around, wind in the trees, a green woodpecker and a swan. Apart from my friends, allowing the import of cosmetics, that park is the one of the few things I miss about France.
Friday afternoon, post run with hand santizer working in a pinch for deodorant, I set off for Eze. I hoped it would be the one place all weekend I’d be able to look around Fragonard the Perfumer. I don’t wear perfume, but I love their soaps. Every year they feature a flower of the year. This year’s jasmine, which along with lilac is my favourite scent. I couldn’t not go! They have shops all along the Cote Azur, however being a holiday, most would be closed. Eze just outside Monaco is home to the Chateau de la Chèvre d’Or, so Fragonard had be open. My gamble paid off! I also wanted the drive there. The coastal road to Italy is pretty, but it was my first time driving it, rather than begin a passenger so my views were limited. Hitting the rain cloud on the way up that engulfed Eze was a little scary. Especially at it’s thickest across the viaduct in!
My flight on the Sunday wasn’t until late and checkout was early. Just before moving back to Barcelona, we walked a little of the Cap d’Antibes. If I have known about it sooner, I would have walked it more. My one regret was that I didn’t walk it’s full distance. I’ll put my hands up and say I was completely ill prepared for this walk. Firstly, I really needed the bathroom, I didn’t take water, I said only a little way, then turn around for the bathroom and I was wearing slip on skater shoes and a lace t-shirt (I’ll accept the odd looks I got). That’s the last time I listen to my internal advice! I walked the whole coast part, skipped the inland return and walked back along the coastal path. My reasoning, I’m not going to get to listen to the sea as quietly for a long time. My Mum’s right. You can take the girl out the countryside, you can’t take the countryside out the girl. That said, I did shed a tear landing in Barcelona. I don’t when I’ll get to see my friends again, but my life is for now in Barcelona. I’m happier here and I know we’ll find a way to say hello in person again. I can always go back to visit. France I’ve learned is a lot nicer to visit than to live in. It’s charm wears off after a while! If I do, I can take that trip I wanted to take Sunday, but I listened to that internal voice saying, Cannes is closer. Less traffic for the airport back. Shoulda gone to Monaco!