Sunday 13th September
I really struggled to get to sleep last night and fell back asleep after both of my alarms that were set for 6.30am and 6.45am. I had requested a wake up call from reception so I thought I had a safety net so to speak. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I never got the wake up call and woke up at 7.25am - just 17 minutes before my train to Nice was due to depart! I packed up in a hurry and had an extrememly wuick wash and brushed my teeth before literally sprinting up the main street in Nimes with my heavy bag on my back - I got a few funny looks from people but the ticket had cost me a lot and there was no way I was going to miss the train! I made it with about 3 minutes to spare but didn't feel particularly nice - I was now all sweaty again and felt distinctively dirty.
The sun was really hot this morning too so that didn't really help and it looked like being another fantastic day of weather with not a cloud in thesky. The train ride ended up being a fairly enjoyable one for a change. I was sat next to an extremely pretty French girl, called Isabelle, and thought it would be simply rude not to talk to her! French people definitely seem to be more friendly and we chatted for a couple of hours before she got off the train at Cannes. My French has definitely improved a lot - there were times when I didn't understand completely but my French dictionary sorted out those problems. To be able to sit and chat with someone for such a long time about varied subjects surely means I have improved massively - 2 weeks ago I probably wouldn't have understood a word and probably wouldn't have been able to speak much myself but I am feeling more and more confident every time I speak with someone French now.
Isabelle was telling me that she works on cruise ships and can earn up to €2,500 a month - admittedly she does have to put a lot of hours in for that but there is little to do on the boats and all of her food and accomodation is paid for so, in essence, it's al,ost like earning €4,000 a month really. She said a flat month would be worth around €1,500 a month which I thought was quite reasonable given the fact that you have no bills at all whilst on board. It definitely got me thinking about the future - if, for whatever reason, things didn't work out in Italy then it would always be an option. She even said that you are allowed to take your pets with you and Roman would be able to go with me!
I arrived into Nice just before midday and was welcomed by blistering 30 degree sunshine for pretty much the whole of the afternoon! The tourist office was right next door to the train station so I enquired about a youth hostel and was pleased to find that there was one less than a mile down the road in the direction of the beaches. It is more expensive than usual at €22 a night but that's a lot cheaper than a hotel and breakfast is included in the price also. The hostel is very busy and there are a lot of people buzzing around here which helps to pass the time.
I had a walk around Nice for a short while and took a stroll down the seafront once I had sorted all of my stuff out. I sat on a chair by the seafront for about an hour before deciding to go off in search of food. It was a bit of an irregular hour for eating in France so I had to make do with a KFC - it's been a while since I had one of them but I can tell you the English definitely do it better! I didn't fare much better for my evening meal - McDonald's - but I couldn't be bothered looking for a restaurant and it did save me about €10.
I rang my parents to let them know where I was and also what my new plan was for my journey into Rome. As I had originally planned to arrive at the end of October the change in plans means that I may arrive into Rome and have nobody there to meet me as originally hoped - that may change but it depends on quite a few factors so I will have to wait and see on that. I also spoke to Rich to tell him to make sure he sends off for his passport this week so he can come and visit as soon after I arrive as possible - he isn't the most organised of people and I had been telling him for weeks to get it sorted!
As I sat down to update my blog and my photos I got talking to a couple of English girls in the hostel, Gabriella and Hannah. They are coming to the end of their travels also after travelling around Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and France and will be getting a flight from Nice on Thursday afternoon back to England. They seem like fun so I arranged to go out for a few drinks with them - it can get really boring in the evenings when you have no company and English speakers have been few and far between so it's also nice to have an opportunity for free flowing relaxed conversation.
Back home I don't think I would have ever spoken to them to be honest but I think that this journey has changed me in a few ways. I am now more outward and am becoming more confident. I think the good experiences I have had with people along the way have also helped and I think I actively search out new experiences now. Also, as I have said already, it can get pretty lonely with nobody to talk to so I am now prepared to speak to people more as it is a good way of alleviating the boredom.
We went in search of some wine and beer just before 9pm but were horrified to learn that the supermarket had shut at 8.30pm! We had a walk around for a while but couldn't find anywhere else to get some from so decided to have a walk up the front for a bit instead. After a bit we sat on the beach having competitions to see who could skim stones the best and who could throw the furthest - these are the sorts of interactions I think I would struggle to have with someone I don't share a language with and it was nice to just sort of sit around doing very little and chatting about anything that sprung to mind.
Gabriella is really quite an amusing character. She seems very impulsive and loved going into the expensive hotels for a look around! Hannah seemed reluctant to do it but Gabriella just walked in - she did get escorted out and got some funny looks outside the casino too but it was quite amusing. She has a very relaxed attitude and it's quite refreshing to meet someone like that. She is currently taking a year out from studies to work for a while before going off travelling again. Hannah is certainly more reserved than Gabriella but is also a very nice girl. She is studying for a politics degree at the moment and has another couple of years to go. Although she was more reserved than Gabriella she is quite a conversationalist and I found it really easy to talk to her. Hannah commandeered my camera at one point and took some random photos - a rare opportunity for some photos of me for a change amongst all of the photos of towns and buildings!
I had a really nice evening with them even though we really didn't do very much and we decided to head back to the hostel at about midnight. We stumbled across a shop that sold alcohol on the way back - bloody typical! - so I bought a couple of cans of Kronenbourg to drink before bed time. We got back to the hostel at around 12.30am and went to bed pretty soon after. I find beer usually helps you to get to sleep if you have had a couple but this wasn't the case tonight - I struggled to get to sleep and it ended up taking me until around 2am before I finally dropped off.