Friday, 15th October 2010 – Monaco, Antibes, Day 3
Friday morning I got up relatively early and went for a swim in the hotel pool – which was heart-stoppingly cold that early in the day. The sun was just coming up behind the building and hadn’t hit the water, but I soon warmed up and by the time I’d finished it was clear it was going to be another beautiful sunny day on the Riviera. How ever would we stand it? After breakfast the original plan was that Skil would collect her new car, a Mercedes convertible, and we would drive to Antibes for a bit of a mooch around and maybe some shopping. Unfortunately the convertible wasn’t ready but we could still go to Antibes, just not with the top down. Once there Skil did a little shopping and we roamed around the old town, stopping off for lunch at the Café des Chineurs, an old haunt of mine when I lived down near Valbonne in the 1990s.
I used to head down to Antibes, go to the English bookshop and the English grocery (for the occasional slab of Cheddar cheese or tin of baked beans) and then, after a trip to the hairdressers’, would go for lunch at the café – originally because it had the sunniest lunchtime terrace in Antibes.
Today was very sunny too, and the refurbished and fitted café provided a very tasty plate of pasta with tomatoes, garlic and prawns, which was more than enough to keep me happy for the rest of the day.
After lunch we took a wander round the ramparts and down to the Picasso museum, which has also been renovated and cleaned up, being alarmed on the way by the giant blue snails climbing up the side of an art gallery and loitering threateningly in the car park as well. There was also a giant sculpture of a dog on the first floor balcony but it wasn’t anywhere near as odd as the snails
We didn’t go into the museum, none of us being Picasso fans, but we did do a little shopping on the way back, at Blanc de Nil, where I enjoyed the hitherto unknown experience of trying on clothes in a French shop and being able to fit into them, and in fact of rejecting some for being too big. I am now the possessor of a white cotton sweater, which is very nice with my white jeans and very Cote d’Azur. Works for me anyway… though I’m bound to end up making a mess of it each time I wear it, knowing me. Anyway after that we decided that if we were going out again it was probably time we headed back to the hotel and took a breather.
Once back I nipped to Carrefour to stock up on a few goodies. I came back with some of the more interesting Knorr soups, and several other French culinary treats including a bottle of crème de framboise for making kir with. Oh and a couple of beers, and a pack of pistachios which we set about consuming on the balcony in the sunshine. It was shortly afterwards that I had a bit of a set to with a Monegasque seagull. I was clearing the beer cans and my book and laptop away into the room, and intended to bring the bin back to get rid of the pistachio shells when the damn thing landed on the balcony table and started helping itself to the debris. I yelled at it to bugger off and it took off only to return as I cleared the glasses away and came back to get the shells. It went away again somewhat reluctantly, obviously having finally decided that it wasn’t worth dealing with arm-flapping humans just for a few empty shells…
A little later, changed and clean, we met Skil in the hotel bar and headed for dinner in the hotel restaurant. Which, unlike many a hotel restaurant, was very good indeed. The smoked salmon and lentils with a poached egg starter were really tasty (as well as a lot larger than might be considered necessary) and the beef tartar with French fries was just wonderful. Skil’s veal curry with every sort of accompaniment you could want with a curry was also delicious, although why anyone would need that many popadoms is anyone’s guess! From there we again headed to Moods, this time to listen to a Bee Gees tribute band, the Tree Gees – who were a lot more fun than we expected, and were very good in terms of sound, though as they were apparently all Italian with no grasp of the English language their pronunciation was more than a little out of line with reality.
Anyway, it was once again fun and we finally rolled back to the hotel around midnight, thinking we might drop back on Saturday and catch the second half of their set if we felt energetic enough.