Abroad My Trips

Losing €50 at the Monte Carlo Casino and other tales from the French Riviera

There are few places in the world I think are more colorful and more beautiful than the French Riviera. It was hard to say goodbye to Barcelona, but we quickly dried our tears as we ventured onward to the sunny south of France. On the morning of Tuesday, June 24, we packed up and headed back across the border, making a stop for lunch in Arles, a cute town with sand-colored buildings. We unfortunately didn’t have time to really explore the city and before we knew it we were back on the bus, headed east toward Antes. Euro Trip Summer 2014 1199 We arrived to the campsite in Antes around dinner time. We were greeted by the on-site Contiki staff and offered local cuisine, which included frog legs and champagne punch. Mmm. After dinner, I spent the rest of my night at the bar. But I wasn’t drinking; the bar was the only place on the site with wifi, so I parked myself in a little nook and spent hours on my iPad planning my post-Contiki trip to Switzerland. Once everything was squared away, I went to bed around 1 a.m., ready for an early departure the following day. I got some much needed sleep and felt awake for the first time in at least a week. On the morning of June 26th, we made our way out to Nice, France. I have a few friends who have been there before and one friend who studied there for months, but I knew very little about the city. Consequently, I was absolutely blown away by the view of the coastline. The water was a gorgeous shade of turquoise that faded into a deep blue and stretched as far as the eye could see. The buildings were complementary shades of orange, peach and tan, making the juxtaposed colors a perfect setting for a coastal town. Euro Trip Summer 2014 1252 After grabbing a quick lunch, my friends and I climbed to the top of an overlook, capturing breathtaking views of the landscape. We hung around at a park at the top of the hill, then headed back into downtown Nice to find some souvenirs. Like most cities on the tour, I could have stayed in Nice for days, but we had to head back home to get ready for the night’s festivities. Euro Trip Summer 2014 1254Euro Trip Summer 2014 1277 We had a delicious quiche dinner back at the campsite, then boarded the coach once more. This time, we were headed to Monaco, where we would try our luck at the Monte Carlo casino. I had no intention of gambling, rather just watching the rest of the group playing games and cheering them on. But, of course, nothing ever goes as planned. On the bus, we played a game of Contiki roulette, where all 45 of us put one euro into a pot and were given a number. When we arrived at the casino, a number would be randomly selected and that person would have to bet the money at a table at the casino. If that person won, he/she would have to buy a round of drinks for everyone. If he/she lost, no harm done. So. See where this is going? Yep. I won the roulette. So the fates of everyone’s drinks were in my hands! I’ve never even bought a lottery ticket before, let alone been to a casino. So I had to get some hep from the more experienced guys to walk me through how to work the tables. I played a few rounds of roulette, feeling a little more confident each round, but unfortunately I lost every time. So, there was definitely a downside to the night, but on the plus side, I can now say I gambled at the Monte Carlo! 10377253_10203028096357727_7441099756112741176_n Casino aside, Monaco was beautiful. I definitely understand why you have to be filthy rich and beautiful to live there (so there go my hopes and dreams of moving to Monaco!) but I’m glad I was at least able to visit the country for a night. Every building had a fantastic view of the water and the streets were in pristine condition. The architecture was reminiscent of Nice, but cleaner, brighter and more pompous. It was a great place to take photos. 10511369_10203028146998993_5953747978822387193_n We headed back to the campsite around midnight, where the few people who did win some cash at the casino bought everyone drinks. I went to bed not long after, ready for the drive to Florence the following day!t

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