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I have been blogging for more than 8 years, since my retirement. Because I always choose the Free WordPress option, I have to move on as soon as the Media Storage fills up. Since blog #8 and subsequent blogs, I am doing something just a bit different. Rather than moving sites, I will keep my old site and link to the new posts with a Continue Reading prompt. If you followed me here from my last blog, thank you very much. If you are a new reader, welcome. I hope you enjoy reading my posts. Please like, comment and follow, if you do.

This blog site, all posts, prose, poetry and photos are the property of K. A Gould (unless otherwise noted), © all rights reserved.

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    It’s Going to be a NICE Vacation! – The Common Man’s Monaco

    All photos taken on June 12, 2011.

    Just 13 km (8 miles) and 29 minutes down the road, was the city of Menton, right near the Italian border.

    Menton, written Menton in classical norm or Mentan in Mistralian norm; is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region on the French Riviera, close to the Italian border.

    Menton has always been a frontier town. Since the end of the 14th century, it was on the border between County of Nice, held by the Duke of Savoy, and Republic of Genoa. It was an exclave of the Principality of Monaco until the disputed French plebiscite of 1860, when it was added to France. It had been always a fashionable tourist centre with grand mansions and gardens. Its temperate Mediterranean climate is especially favourable to the citrus industry, with which it is strongly identified.

    Population in 2019 is listed as 30,525.

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    We do not know where the name “Common Man’s Monaco” started, but we heard it used by several locals on the Riviera. Menton also has villas, yachts and a casino, but likely has fewer Ferraris and Lamborghinis than its richer cousin. It is a more affordable place for local vacationers.

    While we were on the bus, an English speaking passenger, who now lived in Menton, asked us what we were going to see. Hearing this was our first visit, she did her best to point us in the right direction and we were lucky to get some helpful tips.

    Same blue water, same rocky beach, but more topless bathers.

    walking by the waterfront casino

    Eglise Réformée de France

    We continued our walk into downtown past buildings housing main floor shops with apartments above

    Menton is a very hilly town, with lots of steps, narrow back streets and alleys you could easily get lost in. We set off in search of the heights and Basilica of Saint Michael Archangel.

    The pastel colours shone in the bright sunshine, even in the narrow streets

    From time to time, we caught glimpses of the Mediterranean and Italy’s coast line

    Success. With the help of our new bus friend we found what we were looking for.

    The Basilica of Saint-Michael the Archangel is in the town and resort of Menton, in the Alpes-Maritimes department of south-east France. It is on the side of the hill, in the east of the town and overlooking the port.

    The basilica was built in the 17th century, between 1639 and 1653 (although work had started 20 years earlier, it only really got underway in 1639). Menton was a part of the principality of Monaco at this stage, only becoming part of France in the 18th century, as part of the revolution.

    The tall belltower on the right side of the church was added at the beginning of the 18th century, and the charming facade was not finally completed until the beginning of the 19th century, although it is still in the baroque style typical of the 17th century, and visitors are unlikely to think they are seeing a 19th century church!


    Look at these stairs. We opted to take them down to Rue Longue (Long Street)

    view of the surrounding hills and the Moyen Corniche viaduct

    one last glimpse of the cathedral

    Walking along this narrow street, we were amazed by the many narrow openings with stairs up or stairs down. The stories these streets could tell. The streets in the Old Town were mostly deserted. We found out later, that everyone had gathered in the main square for the Sunday Flea Market.

    Beauty surrounded us

    We have the following 3 photos (a triptych) on our family room wall over the fireplace. Over the years we have looked at them wondering if the restaurant was still opened. In 2017 and 2019, we actually dined there and it was phenomenal. We called it “dining in a photo”.

    loved the flower pots

    as we neared the square, we could hear the hubbub of the flea market

    We looked around the square for a place to dine, but the restaurants we chose were either full or not yet open on this busy Sunday. Bad planning on our part. We headed back to our bus for the ride back to Nice and, hopefully, some food.

    Menton was a great find.


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    It’s Going to be a NICE Vacation! – How the Other Half Lives

    All photos taken on June 12, 2011.

    Monaco, officially the Principality of Monaco, is a sovereign city-state and microstate on the French Riviera a few kilometres west of the Italian region of Liguria. It is bordered by France to the north, east and west. The principality is home to 38,682 residents, of whom 9,486 are Monégasque nationals; it is widely recognized as one of the most expensive and wealthiest places in the world. The official language of the principality is French. In addition, Monégasque (a dialect of Ligurian), Italian and English are spoken and understood by many residents.

    With an area of 2.1 km2 (0.81 sq mi), it is the second-smallest sovereign state in the world, after Vatican City. Its 19,009 inhabitants/km2 (49,230/sq mi) make it the most densely-populated sovereign state in the world. Monaco has a land border of 5.47 km (3.40 mi) and the world’s shortest coastline of approximately 3.83 km (2.38 mi); it has a width that varies between 1,700 and 349 m (5,577 and 1,145 ft). The highest point in the state is a narrow pathway named Chemin des Révoires on the slopes of Mont Agel, in the Les Révoires ward, which is 161 m (528 ft) above sea level. The principality is about 15 km (9.3 mi) from the border with Italy. Through land reclamation, Monaco’s land mass has expanded by 20 percent. In 2005, it had an area of only 1.974 km2 (0.762 sq mi).

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    We exited bus #100 at the entrance to the Princes Palace of Monaco and tried to figure out how best to see all the Monaco sights we wanted to see.

    Rather than wait for the small slow elevator, we started climbing up the steep hill. This proved to be the best option, as the views on the way up were spectacular. Storm clouds were brewing, but we seemed to be in the best spot to avoid the rain. Our intent was to get to the top in time to see the Changing of the Guard at Noon.

    almost to the top

    The principality is governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with with Prince Albert II as head of state, who wields immense political power despite his constitutional status. The prime minister, who is the head of government, can be either a Monégasque or a French citizen; the monarch consults with the Government of France before an appointment. Key members of the judiciary in Monaco are detached French magistrates. The House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297. The state’s sovereignty was officially recognized by the Franco-Monégasque Treaty of 1861, with Monaco becoming a full United Nations voting member in 1993. Despite Monaco’s independence and separate foreign policy, its defence is the responsibility of France. However, Monaco does maintain two small military units.

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    The slides below pay homage to the history of the history of the House of Grimaldi

    Off the backside of the Palace grounds, there are some tremendous views of Port de Fontvieille

    Getting set to watch the Changing of the Guard

    Changing of the Guard in progress

    the show is over

    strolling towards Port de Fontvieille viewpoint near Monaco Cathedral

    views from the walkway and Port de Fontvieille viewpoint

    The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, but sometimes called Saint Nicholas Cathedral (name of the old church which was demolished in 1874), or Monaco Cathedral is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Monaco in Monaco-Ville, Monaco, where many of the Grimaldis were buried, including Grace Kelly and more recently Rainier III.

    The cathedral was built in 1875–1903 and consecrated in 11 June 1911, and is on the site of the first parish church in Monaco built in 1252 and dedicated to Saint Nicholas.

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    As it was Sunday, tours of the cathedral would not have been appropriate.

    Some beautiful examples of the local architecture

    We continued on down Av. Saint-Martin past the Oceanographic Museum

    The Oceanographic Museum was inaugurated in 1910 by Monaco’s modernist reformer, Prince Albert I, who invited to the celebrations not just high officials and celebrities but also the world-leading oceanographers of the day to develop the concept of a future Mediterranean Commission dedicated to oceanography, now called Mediterranean Science Commission. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was director from 1957 to 1988. The Museum celebrated its centenary in March 2010, after extensive renovations.

    (Source: Wikipedia) We opted not to visit the inside displays due to a lack of time and the cost. The website lists the current adult admission as 19€.

    Continuing on down Av. Saint-Martin, we popped out at this view of the entrance to Port Hercule, as well as the coast beyond.

    Port Hercule and yachts

    coming down hill to Av. du Port

    The Monaco Grand Prix is a Formula One motor racing event held annually on the Circuit de Monaco, in late May or early June. Run since 1929, it is widely considered to be one of the most important and prestigious automobile races in the world, and is one of the races—along with the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans—that form the Triple Crown of Motorsport. The circuit has been called “an exceptional location of glamour and prestige”. The Formula One event is usually held on the last weekend of May.

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    The 1st slide shows evidence of this year’s Grand Prix still being removed. he 2nd slide is a statue of Juan Manuel Fangio, a five-time Formula One world champion.

    We were now moving on into the high rent district, as we got closer to the Monte Carlo Casino. Expensive apartments and hotels filled the area…

    …and expensive yachts were ranked in Port Hercule

    The Monte Carlo Casino, officially named Casino de Monte-Carlo, is a gambling and entertainment complex located in Monaco. It includes a casino, the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, and the office of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo.

    The idea of opening a gambling casino in Monaco originated with Princess Caroline, a shrewd, business-minded spouse of Prince Florestan. Revenues from the proposed venture were supposed to save the House of Grimaldi from bankruptcy. The ruling family’s persistent financial problems became especially acute after the loss of tax revenue from two breakaway towns, Menton and Roquebrune, which declared independence from Monaco in 1848 and refused to pay taxes on olive oil and fruit imposed by the Grimaldis.

    The Casino de Monte-Carlo is owned and operated by the Société des bains de mer de Monaco, a public company in which the Monaco government and the ruling royal family have a majority interest. The company also owns the principal hotels, sports clubs, foodservice establishments, and nightclubs throughout the Principality.

    The citizens of Monaco are forbidden to enter the gaming rooms of the casino.

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    Due to the casino dress code, we could not go into the casino, but we explored the exterior. Unfortunately, the exterior was undergoing some restoration and covered in scaffold.

    the casino

    some artistic shots – it was good to see the blue skies coming back

    restaurant and area around casino

    more artsy fartsy shots

    All in all, we had spent a very enjoyable 3 1/2 hours in Monaco. Time to head for the bus and our next destination…

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    It’s Going to be a NICE Vacation! – Heading for the Border

    All photos taken on June 12, 2011.

    It was Sunday and the streets were quiet as we headed out to Cours Saleya to find breakfast. I must admit that chewing through a crusty baguette was not fun with shattered front teeth, so I used a knife and fork to make it easier, pushing the bits back to my molars.

    After breakfast, we again found ourselves searching for a relocated bus stop. This time, we were looking for one close to Port Lympia, where we could catch bus #100 for Monaco and Menton.

    At least the service on this line was frequent, so we did not have long to wait once we found the stop. We boarded the bus and paid our 1.50€ fare each. Had we been staying on the whole way without a stop, the fare would have taken us the entire 30 km distance.

    As we rolled along from stop to stop, we thought the stops on this bus line must have the most beautiful views of any bus line anywhere.

    Port Lympia

    local version of a garage sale

    looking back to Nice from the Moyen Corniche

    beautiful coastal views

    We climbed off in Monaco at the stop nearest the Prince’s Palace of Monaco and started our exploration walk of Monaco (separate post).

    Once we were done exploring Monaco, we looked for the next bus stop to catch bus #100 so we could continue on to Menton.

    When the bus came along, the driver advised we needed to toss in another 1€ each. Likely similar to a 90 minute time limit for a paper transfer. Again there were some stellar views.

    Leaving Monaco

    views of Cape Martin

    arriving in Menton

    On the bus, we talked to a local from Menton who told us what to do and see while we were there. We climbed off and set about exploring Menton (separate post).

    Once we were done our Menton ramble, we again climbed on the bus for the ride back to Nice. No worries this time, as our 1.50€ covered the whole trip back.

    Leaving Menton

    Monaco view

    Princes Palace from the bus

    Shots of the Villefranche-sur-Mer Bay, showing the cruise ships

    Arriving back in Nice, we headed to a crepe restaurant to grab some supper, then made our way over to see the home nurse. Near the tram stop, we saw this public art display.

    My wounds were healing nicely, so my bandages were reduced in size. Perhaps not my best look, but getting better.

    Apparently my face wounds helped me forget about the fact I also had a sprained wrist.

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    Amisk Wuche

    All photos taken on March 25, 2023.

    As we drove through the big fluffy snow flakes, it was hard to believe that this day had started off relatively sunny. On our return trip from Bountiful Market this AM, Patty had thrown out the suggestion of driving to Elk Island Park for a walk. We have this National Park right on our doorstep and we so seldom go there. Of course I said, sure, lets do it.

    Fast forward 30 minutes and we are in the car, when looking at the Northern horizon, I said…Is that snow over there? Less than 2 minutes later, I had my answer and after another 5 minutes, we were driving in a virtual March whiteout. Hmmmm, should we keep going? I said yes, these flurries will pass and it will all be fine.

    After 60 minutes of driving (normal would have been 40), we arrived and stopped into the Visitor Centre for, well, you know…

    Elk Island National Park is a national park in Alberta, that plays an important part in the conservation of the Plains bison. The park is administered by the Parks Canada Agency. This “island of conservation” is 35 km (22 mi) east of Edmonton, along the Yellowhead Highway, which goes through the park. It is Canada’s eighth smallest in area, but largest fully enclosed national park, with an area of 194 km2 (75 sq mi).

    The park is representative of the northern prairies plateau ecosystem and as such, the knob and kettle landscape is a mix of native fescue grassland that has been converted to forage land dominated by non-native grasses, aspen parkland and boreal forest. As well, Elk Island plays host to both the largest and the smallest terrestrial mammals in North America, the wood bison and pygmy shrew respectively.

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    From the Visitor Center, it was another 20 minutes drive to the Amisk Wuche Trailhead #5. The parking lot was empty….what a surprise. Saturday morning blizzard just screams…Lets go for an 80 minute drive in a blizzard, so we can walk in the forest.

    Amisk Wuche is the Cree name for the Beaver Hills. The diversity of this trail is ideal for keeping children interested. The trail winds through aspen, birch and spruce stands. A series of floating boardwalks takes the trail across small kettle lakes and beaver ponds. Part of the trail follows ridgelines which allow for elevated views of forested and grassland habitat.

    • Length: 2.7 km (1.8 mile)
    • Elevation Gain/Loss: 52m (170 feet)
    • Time: 1 to 1.5 hours
    • Level of Difficulty: Level of Difficulty:  Moderate Moderate
    • Significant Features: Boardwalks through marsh and forest. Rich in birds and aquatic life.
    • Trailhead: Accessed by Elk Island Parkway.
    • GPS Co-ordinates for Trailhead (in decimal degrees):
    • Lat.: 53.678683 Long.: -112.822728

    (Source: Parks Canada)

    Pit toilets are provided in the parking lot. Everything was covered by a fresh 2.54 cm (1 inch) layer of snow and it was quite a pretty day.

    The trailhead.

    We only saw squirrels along the way. Here is a set of their footprints near the beginning.

    Trail map and trail counter to measure foot traffic—wonder if this thing picks up squirrel traffic

    Down the snowy trail we walked. Footing was quite good, but there were some patches of ice concealed beneath the fresh snow. Trails were well marked with reflective flashes.

    Along the trail, there were plenty of benches to sit on and take in the view over the ponds. I imagine there will be plenty of activity here once the ice melts.

    The long view of the boardwalk across the pond. We will see if this settles back down once the winter is over.

    My footprint

    A viewing platform further along the trail

    Crossing the pond

    The trail continues on over a few wooden bridges/walkways and past a few more ponds.

    Yup, we are right on track

    This broken tree trunk is home to some new residents. I hear they are real fun-gis!

    We really enjoyed the twisty, rolling trail.

    In several places, small trails headed off for views or in this case, a log that could double as a picnic bench.

    Sure, its only 52m (170 feet) of elevation gain/loss…what they do not tell you is that you gain and lose it 4 or 5 times. Good cardio.

    halfway-ish point. Did you notice that 1.2 and 1.3 do not add up to the 2.7 km trail length. I think these measurements are actually to the loop junction (parking access trail) and there is another .2 km from there to the parking lot.

    Hanging in there

    Bison tracks? We saw lots of bison poop along the trails and wondered what animal it was from. Google tells me it was bison poop. Turns out you can learn all kinds of shit on Google. As we walked along, the piles got more frequent and higher. Hmmm, where were the bison? Never good to surprise a large, short-sighted animal that can run up to 56 k/h (35 m/h), on a snowy trail.

    In case you are wondering how far you will have to run to reach your car.

    At this point, the landscape opens up and there are a lot of small ponds with beaver lodges sticking up through the ice. Again, there are places to sit and watch the wildlife activity – unless a bison is chasing you.

    The forest is quite sparse along the pond shore lines.

    Sap is rising up these red willow branches

    More ponds, more boardwalks and more places to sit, although this one looks a bit rickety.

    Selfie time – at this point Patty swapped selfies with her friend who had travelled to Arizona. She was not tempted to return for this weather.

    Nature’s artistry

    And we were done. We had debated about doubling back and getting in more steps, but coffee was calling and we had an hour to drive to reach home.

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    Hiking on Borrowed Time

    All photos taken on March 23, 2023.

    Spring is coming or so we are told. We have been waiting for the spring closure notice to go up on the website, but it is late this year. However, on arrival at Bunchberry Meadows this morning, a notice was posted stating that this year’s spring closure will be from April 3 to May 23.

    Alright then, lets make the best of the time remaining.

    Hiking on Borrowed Time ©

    Blinding light from above

    on gleaming icy sheen.

    Cloudless skies, brightest blue

    the best we’ve ever seen.

    Snow, then ice, then grass

    along pathways sublime.

    Access soon to close, we’re

    hiking on borrowed time.

    The parking lot was empty this morning.

    We have been told.

    Even on the cold days, the melt is on. The picnic tables are almost usable.

    The snow has a shiny hard crust on it

    You can see far into the forest, but you still can’t spot the deer

    Grass and dead leaves are starting to appear

    In the shade, the snow on the paths was granular, providing good footing

    Brightly lit meadow

    closeup of the granular snow

    One of our lunch stops (clockwise route) near Blueberry Connector.

    Where the sun reached the path, snow turned to ice and then to leaves and needles

    Near the junction with Tamarack Trail

    Long March shadows

    Still some colour on this row of Tamaracks

    Sunlit details – this one natural…

    …this one staged

    This snow patch is not long for the world

    Along the West boundary


    Along the levee

    Is this what they mean by rotting snow?

    The view up to and down from today’s lunch spot

    Nothing but blue skies

    Wherever leaves appeared, they sped up the melt of the snow below

    Now heading towards the Grove

    At the Grove, a lot of grass had been exposed

    Coming into the last meadow

    The bottom of this jet looks frosty

    The marsh boardwalk is starting to appear. No more bunny hiding places.

    Tamarack cones

    Almost done this week’s walk.

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    BBM on Pause

    All photos taken on March 28, 2023.

    With the impending spring closure of our favourite forest, we rushed to get one last walk in before April 3. It was another blue sky day and while the temperatures were below the normal average for the year, the walk did not disappoint.

    Grass is appearing in the thicket by the parking area

    There was a shiny icy crust on top of the remaining snow

    Still a decent grip on the trails. There were a few sketchy places, but micro spikes were not required

    The tamarack needle covered boardwalk starts to reappear. Watch out, all you bunnies that used it for safe shelter over winter.

    The melt is on

    Character bark

    gleaming white trunks

    this little downy woodpecker is looking for a snack

    black capped chickadees flitted around us throughout our walk

    nothing but blue skies

    nearing the Grove

    This red squirrel was undeterred by our presence. We watched him cross the path right in front of us and take up a spot at his favourite dining table

    Wherever the sun reached was crusty and slippery

    towards the “Summit”

    weed seed ready for dispersal

    shadow play

    new green growth

    on Tamarack Trail

    Today’s lunch stop near the Junction

    last gasp wildlife shots – in the last slide, you can see the top of a red squirrel making for safety

    A few cars in the parking lot, but we only saw other 3 people on the trail

    See you after the May long weekend, way after the May long weekend.

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    Where the Wild Things Are

    All photos taken on March 23, 2023.

    Sorry folks. I still have a few winter-ish posts left and will blast through a bunch, before resuming posts on Nice. Thanks for bearing with.

    During Covid 19 restrictions, Bunchberry Meadows walks were all about social distancing and exercise. While we still keep our distance and we still get exercise, the walks now are more about what wildlife we see along the way.

    For us, it is not about setting any world land speed records, it is about stopping to look and listen. While many hikers, walkers and joggers can complete the 6.57 km (4 m) long hike in just over an hour, we are never happy, unless it takes us 2 to 2 1/2 hours (lunch included, of course).

    In total, we have walked here 73 times since 2020 and on those walks, we have seen deer, moose, rabbits, porcupines, mice, voles and squirrels. As to birdlife, the area is also rich in diversity, with sightings of eagles, hawks, spruce grouse, barred owls, mourning doves, pileated woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, blue jays, magpies, crows, ravens, Bohemian waxwings, American robins, sparrows, redpolls and the ever ubiquitous black capped chickadees.

    On our past three walks, we have been lucky enough to see white tail deer. No such luck today. Oh, we saw plenty of signs, deer footprints, deer scat and deer beds, but they were off deep in the woods this day, hiding from us two leggers. In another few weeks, they will be welcoming their new fawns into the world.

    Of all the animals and birds we have seen over our walks, none are more prolific or more likely to evoke a smile than the red squirrels and the black capped chickadees. This would be the case today and we were OK with that.

    The biggest game we saw that day (other than horses) was our shadows. The 10:00 AM sun was shining down from on high, making us have to squint from time to time.

    Early into the walk we saw this patch of hair and can only assume it comes from a coyote starting to shed his winter coat. There were no signs of a struggle here, so perhaps the coyote had an itch he needed to scratch.

    As we entered into one thicket of trees, we were soon surrounded by curious black capped chickadees, who seemed to be fixated on the trekking poles sticking out of my pack, as well as the big black thing I was holding in front of my face. This time, Patty was able to snap some shots on her phone.

    I managed a few in more natural poses.

    Up along the North boundary, we paused to look at the horses at Meadow Ridge Equestrian. One mare, who may have been in foal approached the fence, not necessarily to see us, but more likely because she had an itch that needed scratching, first on the metal fence stake and then on the barbed wire strand.

    All along the path, we saw deer footprints and from time to time, piles of droppings. On the West side of the Meadows, we happened upon a deer bed right beside the trail. Given the number of piles of droppings nearby, this must be where the herd hunkers down at night, when BBM is closed to humans.

    We had just finished our lunch, when before we knew it, we were once again surrounded by curious chickadees. Obviously, word had spread.

    This guy just stood there and stared.

    The pack was resting on the ground, but the chickadees still loved to perch on the trekking pole

    Here is a burst sequence

    Not finding anything tasty, they went away to find their own lunch and we set off through the forest. A flash of red up ahead and we were soon being scolded by this guy, eating his own lunch up in a tree. His table manners were impecable.

    They’re Baaaaaack. Action shots this time, near the Grove.

    Past the Grove, near the Umbrella Tree, there was a real hullabaloo going on. One after the other, three flashes of red roared across the trail ahead, with much chattering and nattering. Two of the little ruffians continued the chase, while the 3rd ran up a nearby tree. Look closely at the next two photos of the 2 ruffians. Between their 8 legs, only 2 are on the ground.

    The 3rd squirrel looked down nervously from high up in the tree.

    It is hard not to keep a smile on your face, when you are presented with such animal antics.

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    It’s Going to be a NICE Vacation! – Hiking the Chemin des Douaniers

    All photos taken on June 11, 2011.

    There are 2 coastal hikes on Cap Ferat, Chemin des Douainiers (literally Customs Road), colloquially “the Smugglers Path”, as some would try and land goods or contraband on the coast to avoid taxes or detection. The other shorter path Promenade des Fossettes (translates as Dimples Walk). We chose the Smugglers Path this day and would walk the other path in 2017.

    Entrance to the trail was from Av. Claude Vignon and we were off around the headland.

    Looking across Anse des Fossés to more villas

    Apparently, graffiti can occur anywhere

    L investigates this little boat/swimming basin.

    The sun beats down on the villas on the coast. This owner had a movable sunshade that could be raised and lowered.

    sailing the wide blue sea

    The path was well packed at this point, but not exactly wheelchair accessible

    looking across to Antibes

    Phare du Cap Ferat

    The Cap Ferret lighthouse is made up of a frustoconical tower in smooth white masonry, adjoining a rectangular building housing the engine room, the elevator machinery and the accommodation.

    Built in 1840, it was destroyed in 1944 during the Occupation . Rebuilt in 1947, it was automated in 1995.

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    It was around here that we decided to consume our bakery treats. At that point, I found out that my tart was in fact filled with hard caramel covered in chocolate. Very delicious, but almost impossible for me to eat with my shattered front teeth. I found a way to break it into pieces and use my molars to chew it. Where there’s a dessert, there’s a way.

    The coast was covered in cactus and coarse vegetation and often interspersed with rough hewn stone steps going down to private beaches. Not sure I’d want to use them in wet or windy weather.

    About half way round the cape and looking back

    looking across to Nice

    The rocky coast

    looking across to Mont Boron, Nice

    local pine

    a beautiful look back

    it really was a gorgeous walk

    taking the short cut back to our bus stop

    We had enjoyed our day on Cap Ferat.

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    It’s Going to be a NICE Vacation! – The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild – Gardens

    All photos taken on June 11, 2011.

    The villa is surrounded by nine gardens, each on a different theme: French, Spanish, Japanese, Florentine, Provençal, exotic, a stone garden, a rose garden and a garden of Sèvres. They were created between 1905 and 1912 under the direction of landscape architect Achille Duchêne.

    The garden was conceived in the form of a ship, to be viewed from the loggia of the house, which was like the bridge of a vessel, with the sea visible on all sides. It was inspired by a voyage she made on the liner Île de France, and the villa was given that name. The thirty gardeners who maintained the garden were dressed as sailors, with berets with red pom-poms.

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    While the sun was continuing its westward journey, the day was still hot as we stepped out into the cool green of the gardens. While we were there, we could see them setting up for a wedding. What a venue.

    Garden layout (courtesy of the internet)

    Views from the main balcony

    Peek-a-boo views from the garden

    Jardin Espagnol

    Exotic plants

    looking down the water steps

    the long water and villa

    Exotic Garden

    trying to blend in

    so man shades of green

    Japanese Garden

    bamboo grove

    The koi pond

    One last quick stop and we were off on our next adventure (separate post)

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    It’s Going to be a NICE Vacation! – The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild – Indoors

    All photos taken on June 11, 2011.

    It was a short walk from the bus stop to Villa Ephrussi.

    The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, also called Villa Île-de-France, is a French seaside villa located at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera. Designed by the French architect Aaron Messiah, it was built between 1907 and 1912 by Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild (1864–1934).

    A member of the Rothschild banking family and the wife of the banker Baron Maurice de Ephrussi, Béatrice de Rothschild built her rose-colored villa on a promontory on the isthmus of Cap Ferrat overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The Baroness filled the mansion with antique furniture, Old Master paintings, sculptures, objets d’art and assembled an extensive collection of rare porcelain. The gardens are classified by the Ministry of Culture as one of the Remarkable Gardens of France, whilst the villa itself has been classified as a monument historique since 1996.

    Upon her death in 1934, the Baroness donated the property and its collections to the Académie des Beaux-Arts division of the Institut de France. It is now open to the public.

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    This villa, with its rose colour really stood out. Not sure what we paid in the day, but the current adult admission cost is 16,00 €. Still worth it.

    Imagine waking up to this view every day.

    Some of the chinoiserie collection on display

    the central courtyard

    main level exit to the gardens

    the original furniture was still in place, but I think the shine relates to a protective covering over it.

    works of art adorned the ceilings

    a comfy place to rest

    we loved the ceilings here

    Our indoor visit over and the sun’s lower intensity attracted us outside to wander the gardens….

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    It’s Going to be a NICE Vacation! – Self Care

    All photos taken on June 11, 2022.

    Today was to be my first visit to the home nurse, since my incident. We grabbed the 2 shopping bags of supplies and headed off to the end of the tram line for a short walk through some new territory. There was a market in the area and we wandered around there for a bit so that we would not arrive too early for my appointment.

    The home nurse was very kind and matter of fact. She received our shopping bags of supplies with gratitude, explaining how the home nurse system worked, in a mixture of French and English.

    Wounds cleaned and redressed, we were soon back on our way for today’s adventure. Aside from my frequent flashbacks from the moment of impact, all seemed fine.

    Due to the recent demolition of the main city bus station right in the center of town, bus routes had been rearranged and we really had to search out our boarding location to the bus to St. Jean Cap Ferat.

    The #15 bus wound its way around Mont Boron (along some of the same route as the previous day’s bike ride) and then slowly from stop to stop through Villefranche-sur Mer and Beaulieu-sur-Mer, before dropping us off in St. Jean-Cap-Ferat. We were not on the direct route, but did enjoy the scenery along the way.

    Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in Southeastern France. In 2017, it had a population of 1,573. Cap Ferrat was named in 2012 as the second most expensive residential location in the world, after Monaco.

    Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is located on a peninsula next to Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Villefranche-sur-Mer and extends out to Cap Ferrat. Its tranquility and warm climate make it a favourite holiday destination among the European aristocracy and international rich who visit the French Riviera.

    Saint Jean Cap Ferrat was known to the ancient Greeks as Anao. The site of present-day Cap Ferrat was first settled by Celto-Ligurian tribes, then by the Lombards at the end of the 6th century. Sant Ospizio (or Saint Hospice), a hermit friar, is said to have inhabited a tower on the Eastern part of the peninsula.

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    Quite frankly, the views were sublime and who wouldn’t want to live here?

    Villas of all size and description were scattered along the streets and coast. Yup, this was the high rent district.

    You could tell where the money was, by looking out to see. Back home, the rich had 2nd cars. Here they had 2nd yachts.

    It was far too hot to do the coastal walk in the mid afternoon sun, so we opted to visit The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (separate post) during the hottest sunniest part of the day.

    After that tour, we walked back to the heart of St. Jean past sweet smelling jasmine hedges…

    …and marvelous public art

    We were now hungry and looked for someplace, anyplace that was open. We stumbled across a pizza window down by the waterfront and ordered pizza. The one that Patty had came with a raw egg on top. We did not see that coming.

    We took in the gorgeous views of the Moyen Corniche (literally Middle road) back on the main coast…

    …and the marina views. It was an idyllic dining spot. If only I had some teeth to chew through the pizza crust.

    Church of Saint John the Baptist

    The original building would date from the 11th century, and there is talk of two enlargements which would have taken place during the 19th century, but no doubt it is more simply a question of a new construction dating from this period.


    Before heading off, I posed for a photo on the whale tale, making sure the camera only saw my good side.

    Walking toward the start of the trail, we found a delightful bakery and we each chose a treat for the trail (separate post).

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    It’s Going to be a NICE Vacation! – Invisible Man

    All photos taken on June 10, 2011.

    As it got darker, after 9 PM, I began to feel a bit more at ease, more invisible, as it were. This had been a tough day, but I was not going to hide out in the hotel room with a beautiful Mediterranean evening right there to be enjoyed.

    Now at the far end of Promenade des Anglais, we retraced our steps, heading back to Hotel Boreal.

    Mont Boron subdivision in foreground, Cap Ferat at back

    moon and clouds

    my son and emergency interpreter – so glad he came along

    bike share terminal

    Hey, I know those guys

    the buildings looked so pretty as the lights came on

    classic Mercedes Benz cars

    the evening stroll was still happening

    the carousel

    EV plugins

    pedestrian way

    Place Massena and lighted seated men

    Promenade de Paillon

    all aglow

    heading home through Place Massena

    Av. Jean Médecin

    It had been a trying day, but I would get through this and still have a great vacation.

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    It’s Going to be a NICE Vacation! – Unexpected Optional Tour

    All photos taken on June 10, 2011.

    If you had told me at the start of the day, how the day would turn out, I would never have believed you. And yet, stuff happened. But to get us to that point, we must begin at the beginning.

    After picking up our rental bikes, we walked over to the far side of Port Lympia Harbour, before getting on the bikes.

    We laughed at the company name/service provider combination here. Fraikin was the name and Froid (cold) referred to refrigeration. We thought it was like saying it was Freaking Cold.

    Here we are getting ready to ride.

    Views of the port – it was another stellar day

    A sailing cruise boat

    Sailing lessons for kids – Dinghy class

    Some pretty fancy homes as we climbed up the hill

    Cap Ferat with historic lighthouse

    Beautiful villas and landscaping everywhere

    Chateau d’Anglais

    At this point, we realized we were on a very busy road and although there were some momentary lulls in traffic, we did not feel safe for a good part of the time. We turned back, with the intention of perhaps continuing our bike ride on the Promenade des Anglais.

    As we headed back, we realized how steep the hill was that we had been climbing. We let the bikes free wheel, applying the brakes from time to time. I was bringing up the rear. Stupidly, I had my camera in my right hand rather than stowing it. This mistake would come into play shortly.

    Rounding the corner back by the port, we were still rolling along at quite a good clip. Up ahead, I saw a car door open and applied the brake to slow down. Unfortunately, I had to grab the left (front) brake (remember camera in right hand?). It grabbed hard and my hand pressed even harder. The next thing I felt was the hard smack of my face on the pavement. Front brake with no rear brake always ends the same. The bike rotates up and over the front wheel and the rider is ejected.

    As I lay on the street, taking stock of my situation, I thought, hmm, this is not too bad. Other than a ringing in my ears and a headache, I thought I was OK, until I ran my tongue over my teeth. Hmmm, not OK.

    At that point, a woman passing by asked me in French if I was OK. She did not believe my “Yes”, told me she was a nurse and escorted me to a nearby pharmacy to await an ambulance. Meanwhile, my family who had ridden on ahead, came back looking for me. I was not a pretty sight, with blood on me and my bike.

    We locked our bikes to a nearby traffic sign and headed away in the ambulance…weeooooweeeeoooooweeeooooo. Cool/Not cool.

    At Hôpital Saint-Roch, I was placed in a gurney along a hallway wall and advised they were waiting for a doctor to come see me. The doctor turned out to be their best plastic surgeon (thank goodness). Soon, I was taken into room to be cleaned up, sewn up and bandaged up.

    L was in the room with me to help interpret. While I had some French skills, I was in no position to deal with translation, as I was still in shock.

    Below, the sequence shows, in order, the moment of impact where my camera snapped a photo as I hit the pavement, my view from the gurney, me with my wounds and me all bandaged up.

    Hospital atrium

    My surgical team had asked the hospital dental office to stay open a bit longer to take a look at me. I had shattered 3 front teeth and they needed to be dealt with. Now, my Patty is a dental person, so she came in with me. She was not impressed with their 25 year old equipment, the substandard hygiene practices and their lack of technical skills. They needed to take X-rays and did not have the proper bitewings, so they held the film in my mouth with their fingers, while taking the X-ray. I wonder how they fared in later life after all those X-rays. Then they fought with the X-ray developer and lastly, they took a very coarse slow turning burr and tried to take any sharp edges off my teeth. They barely succeeded.

    Here I am with my new look, ready to go back on vacation. Hardly a scratch, right?

    We were given a detailed prescription list and an address for a home nurse where I would have to go each day to have my bandages changed.

    Leaving the hospital

    While we had received a special ride to get to the hospital, we now had to walk 2 km. back to our bikes, so we could return them to the bike shop.

    Fortunately, the bikes were still there. We unlocked them and rode slowly back to the bike shop, where we turned them in. Hearing my story, the rental shop decided my rental was free.

    Things I learned that day:

    • never ride a bike with anything in your hands, except the handlebars
    • keep your hands off the front brake lever
    • health care in France is pretty decent and efficient.
    • hospital dental care, not so much
    • my total costs before insurance were about $176 Canadian. Most of that was for the prescription supplies, which filled 2 shopping bags
    • home nurses are angels in disguise
    • home nurse supplies are kept stocked by overprescribing to patients, especially foreign tourists.
    • if you want a free bike rental, return the rented bike covered in blood
    • You can still drink good French wine, if you ask for a straw (last post)
    • you draw a lot of attention walking around with your face bandaged up like the Invisible Man. Now I know how women feel when they get unwanted attention from ignorant men.
    • Flashbacks to the moment of impact can go on for months and even years, but thankfully decrease in frequency and severity.
    • you can give in to a bad situation and sit around feeling sorry for yourself, or you can adjust and keep going. I chose to adjust and keep going.

    Walking wounded out.

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    Another Month – Another #@&?ing Idiot Light

    All photos taken on March 21, 2022. Welcome to the first full day of spring?

    Strange title, I know. 5 weeks ago, we were going for a downtown city walk, when the check engine light came on, so we turned around and headed to the dealer to check it out. Our city walk chance vanished, but we found an alternate near the dealer (see Recalculating post here).

    On this trip, we were in the city again, because the check engine light had come on again. So, we had to drop the car back at the dealer and undertook our downtown hike, while the car was being repaired.

    After a lot of thinking, we opted to do the same hike we did on November 29, 2022 (see post here).

    On this first full day of spring, we had hoped it would be a little warmer, but it still felt bloody cold as we headed East, past Walterdale Bridge.

    There are those hardy Edmontonians who ride their bicycles in all kinds of weather.

    A short distance into our walk we passed the leader of the official provincial opposition, Rachel Notley, who took the time to have a nice chat with us, before continuing on her way.

    A pause for the obscured city view.

    While we were stopped looking at the view, we could hear the sounds of a far away jackhammer, that turned out to be this male Downy Woodpecker.

    a look back

    a look up–the hazy skies were starting to clear and the bule sky and sunshine was a welcome sight…