Ayca shouts as we pass the Italian-French border:
– Why isn’t there any passport control?
– Dude, we are in EU, there is no control.
Actually you may get your passport stamped. But I don’t want to be an object of the police officers. I received permission for 30 days but I must say 30 days for 45 days. : ). Since my passport is not stamped at the border, my entrance date remains unknown. By this way I’ll be able to travel in France for 45 days. The French ambassador knew this issue and also me. Well, there is no need to officialize our residence down to 30 days just because Ayca wants a stamp on her passport.
Well, the first town we enter is Menton. A pretty nice town but far too crowded. It is 7 p.m. and people are side by side on the beach and also the road to the beach is bursting at the seams. I tried to check out the hotel’s address from my mobile phone’s navigation but the Italian SIM card got invalid. Dude, that’s not good. Vodafone worked well throughout Italy but till 5 km ahead the border. Tut! Since I haven’t uploaded the map of France on my GPS device yet, I can’t see the streets. Ooooo super. Then I’ll ask people for the address.
I asked to an older man, he described the address in French. After going for 3-4 km towards the direction he showed I saw a restaurant. I knew that I was in the vicinity of the hotel but difficult to find it among the side streets. I asked for the WI-FI password to one of the girls working in the restaurant. It is difficult to find someone speaking in English and also I don’t know any French which makes hard to communicate. Anyway, before the girl gave the password, the restaurant manager came and got angry with her. He said something like: “Why are you giving the password to a man who is not dining here”. The girl refused to give the password. The manager came next to me and tried to describe the address in English. But he was showing me the wrong direction. When you are on the road for a long time you sense if something is going wrong. That man really lies through his teeth. I gazed at him which has the same meaning in any language. “Dude, are you fucking me?” I was already very tried wishing to smash his face in. I insisted that the hotel must be somewhere around but he persisted on showing a totally different direction. I got so angry and left the restaurant. Ayca looked at me and asked: “What the hell happened?”
“There are idiots in every country Ayca, that’s what happened”
The hotel must be somewhere around. I turned right, then left and hooopp saw the first signboard. : ) Then the second one and there we are. : ) Ass hole, he was misdirecting us on purpose. It got dark until we checked in the hotel and had a shower. I was feeling tired cycling since July 18th aside and resting for only 3 days. I didn’t want to hang around and not walk either. I needed to take rest. Therefore, we decided to go out for a city tour the next morning. Furthermore, we had an appointment with Esra and her husband Kader tomorrow. Esra, sister of Asuman a colleague of Ayca were returning Turkey from Nice on motorcycle. The next day we were supposed to meet them downtown, what a nice coincidence.
In the morning I woke up, but how. Dude, wouldn’t it be better to sleep and not get up? The first question of Ayca was: “Are we going to swimming?” Dude, we went to swim every day. We went to swim in almost every bay along the coast. “All right, we’ll go. I don’t know where yet, but we’ll. Let us meet first with Esra and her husband.” They came to our hotel. Then we went downtown all together for a cup of coffee.
They had sent their motorbike to south of France with a ferry. Now, they were driving back to Turkey. If I had a motorbike I wouldn’t leave an unexplored single spot, I guess. I told them about places to go but they had to stick to a certain time frame. They had planned their route ahead which they had to follow otherwise they wouldn’t be able to go back to Turkey on time. I hope they had a nice and pleasant journey.
Menton is a city which the French people prefer to spent their summer vocation. The city center is pretty crowded, the streets are narrow, the houses are built on outcrops, the main street is overcrowded. Besides an ancient church and shopping malls there is nothing worth for sightseeing. But you find the delicious ice cream also here as along the Italian coast. The hotel costs 75 € per night, quite normal at high season without reservation.
Another issue which caught our attention while cycling along the French Riviera was that the drivers were not respecting us as in Italy. In Italy the drivers avoided to put a cyclist at risk while overtaking (at least I was not faced with a dangerous situation) in Italy which is not the case in France. French drivers approach to the cyclist while overtaking. If you happen to ask why they are putting the cyclists on risk the answer would probably that: “We are better drivers than Italians.” As we headed towards north the situation changed and the drivers became more respectful and patient to the cyclists.
Let me come back to the Monte Carlo and Monaco issues. Ooo look, there is a familiar license plate. That man drove all the way down from Russia to Monaco by his Porsche. That road is difficult to drive on even by car. I think that I managed pretty good with my bicycle. Well, so what, you came all the way down and now stick in a traffic jam here. Hoooppp let me pass you by. : )
The old city Monaco and Monte Carlo were just a story in my ears. I used to hear for years as: “Wow, unbelievable. Wow, amazing.” Dude, there are top model cars in front of the huge casino and a flood of people taking photos of those cars. Just go inside, gamble and come out. There is traffic jam in even side streets. Mayor Melih (the mayor of Ankara), if you would put your hands on Monaco, the number of your twitter followers would explode. The possibility for you to receive a badge from the Principality of Monaco seems to be quite high.
– Ayca, get out of here. I’m fed up. This crowd is nothing for me, dude.
– Not for me either. Gurkan, what a jam this is.
Every 200 m, a police officer can be seen in this small city state. Once I was cycling on a pedestrian way the police stopped me and told that it is not allowed. Even if there is traffic jam drivers avoid the bus lanes. Well, those lanes are the best ways to cycle. We came across the “Prince’s Car Collection“ at the coast while trying to escape from the city. We tried another street and came in front of the Palace. Dude, where is the exit of the city? At the end we came across a pizzeria in one of the narrow streets and I said: “Well, actually we were looking for this pizzeria”. : ). Time to take a short break. The pizza was delicious just as that baked in Italy.
We had our lunch in Monaco and we’ll dine in Nice. Afterwards, I’ll head to the Alps. On the way I stop and start laughing at myself and say: “ Look what I’ve done! “ : )
The road between Monaco and Nice was very crowded. The hotels cost starting with 300-400 € per night in Monaco. Therefore, people stay in Nice and enjoy the glamorous night life of Monaco coming from Nice with cars, motorcycles or bicycles.
While cycling towards Nice an interesting coincidence happened. You know, I share many photos on Instagram. Many of those photos are not found on my homepage or my Facebook account. I also try to follow other travelers as much as possible. One of them is Cagla. She sent me a message when I was pedaling through Italy: “Gurkan, I’m also coming to Italy with my friends. I hope we’ll meet on the road.” Afterwards I realized that she went towards north of Italy with her friends while we were heading towards north-east with Ayca. That is, it seemed almost impossible to meet with them in Italy.
On the road towards Nice I saw a tourer cycling in front of me. His back panniers were made of styrofoam. You know, like the ones we use for keeping fish fresh. Dude, I don’t have a camera, can’t take a photo of him (I broke down my camera in Denmark, then didn’t have enough money to buy a new one. I hope I’ll buy one in France.). Let me catch him and chat with him. Just as I was about to catch that man 3 cyclists crossed my way. I have to photograph that man even I would leave Ayca behind me. Dude, the guy recognizing me coming closer started to cycle faster. Dude, where are you going? Look, he also passed the cyclists. Let me pass them also. I passed the first, while taking over the second “heyyyy Turkeyyyy”. This is a classical, when someone cries out “Turkey”, I raise my hand to salute and just continue on my way. He saw the Turkish flag waves at the rear. I raised my hand and saluted. Just as I was about to take over the last one: “Heyy, this Gurkan Genc. Abi? Gurkan Abi”
– How come, dude? (I slowed down and missed that guy)
– (I turn on my back and call out) Dude, are you Turk?
I turn my head, dude, how come? That is Cagla. Meanwhile Ayca is also shouting.
– Ooooowww. I can’t believe my eyes. This is Gurkan Genc
– I also can’t believe. Let me stop at a suitable place.
Meanwhile, the guy went out of sight. No matter. Cagla and her friends took a train from north of Italy and came to Nice. Then, they hired bicycles for a day tour to Monaco and were on their way back to Nice when we came across. Thus, this was the reason why we had cycled here and there in Monaco and lost our way and had a lunch at that pizzeria. We had to coincide with Cagla and her friends. We pedaled together till Nice. Afterwards, we went to the famous beach of Nice to swim. Although we wanted to meet at the evening we got tired cycling under the sun all day and went to bed early. Cagla and her friends had an early flight to Turkey. That was a nice coincidence and remembrance. I send my greetings to her and her friends from here.
As we finished the route covering Milano, Como, Cenova, Sanremo, Monaco and Nice, Ayca said:”Gurkan I couldn’t understand how fast those 15 days were gone.” Dude, I tell the same to people but nobody believes me. I really cannot follow up anymore when I went to Japan, in which school I held presentations, when did I set off for my tour around the world and left the first year pass behind me. Time goes really very fast.
(At this point of my mother is probably saying: “Ask me Gurkan, whether the time goes very fast or not”)
Here are the video of the tour we were on with Ayca:
We found a bicycle store near our hotel in Nice. They didn’t have a suitable box for Ayca’s bicycle but told us that it should be ready by 6 p.m. Meanwhile we strolled around.
The first day in Nice we tried to rent a motorbike with Ayca for sightseeing. It costs 55 € per day but you have to pay a deposit of 980 €. I have four different credit cards with a total limit of 2000 TL (about 670 €) bound to a common bank account. The reason for low limit is because in some countries the amount can be directly withdrawn from the credit card without asking for password. I store my credit cards in different bags and carry only one. A kind of precaution upon theft. I left the others in my bicycle panniers, so we couldn’t pay the deposit from my credit card I had with me. Ayca wanted to pay with her credit card but this time the name of the driver and card holder didn’t match.
Do not ever pay tour agencies for sightseeing in Nice. Furthermore, we are glad that we didn’t rent a motorbike in this city. If you happen to come to this city go to the beach and sun bath, there is nothing else to do. Really, there isn’t even a single spot worth sightseeing in this city. And further the stupid talk about old city is really boring. You arrive in old city where there are shopping malls everywhere. Also, the last day I walk with Ayca and hang around.
We saw a kebab restaurant in one of the side streets. Aha… Turquie is written on the board. This is the first time I encountered a Turkish Doner restaurant after Switzerland. Its owner Kemal came to study at the university at the age of 17 and then settled down here. He is from Izmir living for 40 years in this city. He has five doner restaurants in Nice. He has also various Turkish meals in his menu. And also tel kadayif (a Turkish desert made with shredded dough stuffed with nuts in syrup) hehehe : )
This is the end of our tour with Ayca, who knows where we come across again and pedal together. After sent off Ayca I stay one more day at the hotel and the set off for my tour.
The route is obviously the highest road pass in Europe, Col de L’iseran pass (2770 m). Am I ready for my first destination? My legs are in good condition.
I tried to avoid difficult roads as much as possible with Ayca. I care not to let her climb slopes. You know, I had my lesson in Bulgaria. Now this is the point for a confession: “My dear Ayca, actually there was an alternative level road but I wanted you to climb that slope since I knew you could do it, a nice remembrance for you. (It is nice to say that I climbed to a pass in the Alps in Italia). But, I still remember you in that video. I still laugh calling back that moment. : ). I’ll use it in my documentary for sure.
Now that Ayca had left, it is time to return to the mountains.