A Travellerspoint blog

Festival de Cannes

Festival de Cannes

A short hop from Nice, Cannes is a playground of the rich and famous, and our visit coincided with the region's busiest season - the Cannes Film Festival.

The festival itself is centred around a competition where films from around the world compete for the Palm d'Or, a ticket to lucrative global distribution deals. Other films also use the festival to launch their films in the midst of the media hype - this years premieres included Tarantino's latest, starring a certain Mr. Brad Pitt. Screenings are for those with accreditation, and invites only, although many try to scrounge for some last minute handouts.

The beachside strip, La Croissette, is bustling with film producers, actors, photographers, tv presenters, writers, onlookers, security guards, groupies, curious tourists and a swathe of wanna-be "model slash actors" looking for their big breaks. The exclusive cafes are where the deals are made, podgy and pasty Americans wheeling and dealing with sunglassed types with million dollar smiles. The strip is plastered with advertising of upcoming flicks, the hotels home to both those who want to be seen, and those who want to be near them. The flashier the car, the more attention you get.

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'Nice' evening for a stroll

Back in Nice in time to enjoy the afternoon sun, we headed into Ville Nieux to check out the beach and the old city, with its beautiful plazas and Nicoise cuisine.

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Posted by deepaksuma 13:23 Archived in France Comments (0)

Seemed simple enouugh at the time..

3 countries in one day.

A meal in each. The plan was so simple.

Upon arrival in Switzerland, I had made sure I sorted out my reservations out of Zurich - a train journey to Nice which would take most of one day, with an afternoon stopover in Milan for a spot of lunch and a stretch, arriving in Nice in time for an evening walkabout and dinner.

The first train (Zurich to Milan) left on time at 9am, and not only was it comfortable, but it was spacious, cosy and had battery power for my laptop! Using it to catch up on blogging, watching some videos, etc. we were having a riot. Until an announcement came through that the train would be stopping in Chiasso (just on the Swiss side of the border). And not continuing. No real reason given, just that we had a connecting train to Monza, and then another from there to Milan. Excellent - with expected arrival in Milan at 14.45 and connection at 15.10, my Milan-ese lunch and stretch was no longer available.

Funnily enough, we got to Milan and after a sprint for some sandwiches (and a soggy slice of packaged pizza) our Milan to Nice train was 55 minutes delayed. Perfect. No problem at all, if it were actually taking us to Nice. Nope, a French SNCF strike means the train will terminate in Ventimiglia - Italian side of the Italy-France border.

Arriving in Ventimiglia, we fought through a scrum to get onto an SNCF bus, packs loaded, and soon we were once again winding our way around the coastline, over the border at Menton, and cruising by road to Nice.

Despite the pain..

We saw some amazing things which made it all worthwhile. The waterfalls, mountains and lakes in misty Italian speaking Switzerland near Lugarno was pretty special, as was watching town after sundrenched town on the Azure coastline sail into view and into the distance, with pebbled and/or sandy beaches, lines of striped beach chairs, umbrellas up, people enjoying the Sunday weather. Oh, and Suma met a cute guy on the train - a blond looker called Mathieu, circa 3 years.

Posted by deepaksuma 13:08 Archived in France Comments (0)

What rhymes with Zurich?

Couldn't see the Thunersee

The plan was to take a steamboat from Interlaken to Thun, and a train from there to Zurich via Bern. Alas, the plan was doomed as they had lowered the water level on the Thunersee to carry out to flood testing, and boats were not running today. Plan B - head straight to Zurich!

Bern baby, Bern!

We spent a whole of 10 minutes in Bern - but I really wanted to use this sub-heading!

Easy!

zurich welcomed us with a big market (in the train station, no less), and an extremely helpful tourist information centre. We walked the 15 minutes to the easyHotel (no small feat with packs on), and then came back into town to grab a paprika and curry wurst hotdog, and a walk around Bahnhofstrasse - the glitzy shopping strip.

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What rhymes with Zurich?

The next day we headed down river through the older part of town, and hiked up towers of the Grossmunster cathedral for a great view of the city. We passed by the Swiss National Circus, in town - unfortunately sold out for the day! We lunched on the banks of the lake, and shared some with the local wildlife, who were very hospitable :P

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In the afternoon, we went for a 3.3km run up the riverfront - our first in Switzerland.

Posted by deepaksuma 15:40 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Switzerland heats up

The Golden Pass

We took the scenic route to Interlaken this morning, by switching in Montreux and hopping on the "Golden Pass Scenic Rail". The cabins were old school "belle epoque" era trains, fully restored and extremely comfortable. We continued our run of seeing no people - we had a carriage in the train to ourselves! But we did see some phenomenal scenery, as the train worked its way from Montreux to Zweisimmen along lakes, mountains and fields, quaint little villages and plenty of cows.

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From Zweisimmen, we had a brief stretch and changed trains to a "panoramic" train, which allowed us to open up the windows to get an even closer look at the countryside. The mountains got bigger and the scenery more spectacular - after a slow start, Switzerland was heating up..

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Mind your language

As we headed north, signboards slowly started to become more and more German and less French. It did start to get a little weird when people would end a conversation with "Auf wiedersehen, Merci!"

We're likin' Interlaken!

Our B&B host in Interlaken, Ursula, quickly had us setup with a plan for the next day - a climb up to the Schilthorn peak - leaving us this afternoon to check out the town. Armed with the name of a chocolate shop and a restaurant name, we checked out the old town, and enjoyed a 'chocolate show' (with plenty of sampling), sat in the park with a fine view of the Jungfrau, and had a beautiful hot dinner of Rosti (potato grated and grilled with a variety of toppings) and pizza!

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On her majesty's secret service..

Having conquered the marshlands of the Okavango Delta, the Victoria Falls in Zambia, the deserts of Egypt - our next big thing was to rise the nearly 3000m to the peak of Schithorn, high up in the Swiss Alps, to get up close and personal with the three main Swiss peaks - Eiger, Monch, and the giant Jungfrau.

A series of trains and cable cars took us up, and we stopped in Lauterbrunnen, Grutschalp, Murren, and Birg on the way up, marvelling at each new altitude at the sheer and underscribable vastness of the view before us. Remarkably, the environment changed dramatically from a green and yellow field in barmy weather, to an icy white and misty winter.

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On top of the Schilthorn peak was a viewing platform, as well as the world's highest revolving restaurant, offering 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains. It was the location for the filming of the James Bond film, and they have a presentation showing scenes from the old movie - it's not every day you visit an evil villain's secret alpine lair!

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We were told the weather at the peak was "on and off", and as we arrived it was sunny and clear - but it turned around within the hour and soon we were shrouded in mist and in the middle of a snow shower - a far cry from baking in 40C on a makoro in Botswana!

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On the way down, we took a walk through the Alpine village of Murren to another at Gimmelwald, taking in the views and the fresh air, meeting some brown cows, and having a bit of fun on a swing set!

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Posted by deepaksuma 15:28 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Bonjour Geneva!

Bonjour Geneva!

First impressions of Switzerland were not great - the airport requires you to pay 2 euro for trolleys! And another 2 if you want to use the bathroom!

Moving past that, we headed out of the airport (with no passport control!) and searched for the train station.

..Boring Geneva

Geneva itself really doesn't have much to offer the traveller - a UN building tour, a Red Cross museum and a giant fountain on the lake. We covered the town in an evening and decided to head up the closest peak - Mt Saleve - across the nearby border in France.

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Passport in hand, we caught a bus to near the border, strolled through a village and we were into France, again no checks. This concept is just foreign to an Aussie!

We took a cable car up Mt Saleve and checked out the view across the mountains, a taste of what we were to see as we moved into the Alpine regions. A brief hike around the top (with no marked hiking trails, this effort was pretty shortlived), we headed down and back to Geneva.

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Where is everyone?

What made Geneva look more uninteresting was the sheer lack of people - especially since we had just arrived from Barcelona where you couldn't go anywhere without seeing swarms. Options to eat out were extremely limited, and we stuck with supermarket foods. All in all, Geneva was a pretty sobering place, and we took the opportunity to recharge our batteries for our next stop - Interlaken - for which we took the early train the next morning.

Posted by deepaksuma 15:25 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

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