Monday, August 1, 2011


Tuesday, April 9, 1996 Grasse, France FRANCE MONEY: 5.05 FRANC = $1.00

We left Santa Margharita about 10:00 am and drove to Portofino. A beautiful mountain road , very narrow and twisting and only about three miles. Unbelievable views from every angle. I put my head out of the sunroof with the video camera and tried to take pictures. Not much luck due to the speed of the car! Barbara didn’t go to sleep until about 3 am she said. The clerk came at one point and said her neighbors were complaining about the loudness of her TV set. She never went to breakfast. She said that she felt that our hotel and the restaurant we had dinner at last night were the worst of the trip. But that this was probably the most beautiful of all the towns we’d been in!

We arrived in Portofino and ended up at the top of a very narrow & steep dead-end. Jim had to back down! Very difficult requiring a lot of use of the hand brake as there were all kinds of obstacles on both sides of the street. But we got back down and found out that the road ends here! We had to turn around and go back through Santa Margharita Liguere to reach the Autostrassa. So we got to go back through the beautiful three mile stretch of road again and this time we found a space to stop for photos and videos.

Back on the Autostrassa we found one traffic jam after another! Plus, lots of long tunnels. We all decided that we’d had enough of tunnels. We’ve probably gone through at least fifty of them in the last two days. There were at least five that were over a mile long. Sometimes we would come out of one and go directly in another one. Our big goal today was to spend as many of the lire as we could. Jim ended up with about 200,000 lire left. Said he’s keeping it for his next trip to Italy! Barbara spent the rest of her lire on beautiful tile letters to put their name on the Palm Springs condo. I started to do the same but remembered the association will not allow it! Paid cash for everything including the last tank of gasoline!

We arrived in France at about 2:30 pm. We went through one of the very long tunnels as we left Italy and when we exited on the other side (it was over a mile) we were in France and they’d just finished having a cloud burst! Everything was very wet. We’d left the sun shining in Italy before we entered the tunnel. Barbara needed to use the WC and we stopped at the boarder. We knew we were in France when she came out and told us that she’d had to use the standup variety! Those and the circles instead of stop signs are very peculiar to France. Had rain off and on all afternoon….mostly light sprinkles here and there. New country and new money. The exchange rate is about 5.05 franc for $l.00. Barbara had a 200 Franc note that John had brought home with him about three years ago. We started using it for the tolls and it kept us going until we were able to cash some checks in Grasse when we stopped for the day.

Grasse is the perfume capitol of the world. They have museums and factory tours. It is a very old town built on the side of the hill inland from Cannes. We decided to bypass Monte Carlo and Nice as we’ve all seem both of them. This is really unique. Part of the town is full of immigrants and has become very run down, but most of it is still very well kept and quaint. It’s built on the hillside and has very narrow and twisting streets. Lots of little shops which Barbara could probably spend days going through. We found a beautiful Best Western Hotel at the top of the town called Hotel das Parfums. Also saw a Laundromat on the way into town and made for that as soon as we were registered. Found a different one near the center of the city and took turns going into the shops while we were doing a load of laundry. Jim scouted for local restaurants….Barbara wants French Onion Soup…and found a wide selection.

After finishing the laundry, and getting some money changed, we visited the different restaurants on the way back up the hill to the hotel until we found one that we liked. Had a delightful dinner sitting on cowhide upholstery in a room like a cave! Onion Soup and pizza were the faire of the day since we’d all had a large lunch at the cafeteria on the Autostrassa at about 2 pm. Back at the hotel we figured out how to work the TV’s and found two English speaking channels….one of which was CNN! Jim and Barbara both took Nyquil , a double dose, so they should both get a good night’s sleep and be in great shape tomorrow! They were getting on each other nerves this afternoon and evening! But, tomorrow should be better.

Jim took the Nyquil last night and slept through, but the pillow was very firm and his earplug jammed into his ear canal too far and he now has an ear infection. Barbara has started him on some of her antibiotics to hopefully clear some of the infection up or at least prevent it from getting worst. Tomorrow we plan to drive through Provence. A very historical area that Jim has read about for years. Can’t spend the time there that it really needs, but we’ll get an overview for future reference on trips to France. The book recommends taking a week to do it properly! Hope to stay in Lyon tomorrow night.

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