I’ve reached a decision about the two January posts that I haven’t written: they won’t be. I will post pictures (once I figure out a way to do so) of the trip to the Grand Canyon that I took with Dad, and the first week of school… well,I’m not sure about that one, but at some point I’ll discuss it. xD
So, I’ve had two weeks off from school and today is the LAST DAY! I’m, as always, a bit torn about this, as I want to go back to school [more French and less Monkey] but I really didn’t do much this break. Hopefully that will be remedied for the next break!
February 27th was one of those all-around-GOOD days that probably tops the list of favorite days in France. I’m certain it’ll stay up there, it was that good.
The mascot for this Carnival in Nice is the frog on top of the world, though my favorite giant balloon is the bird. But it’s all so COLORFUL!
You know what "Mardi Gras” is (“Fat Tuesday”), the beginning of Lent and all that, and it’s called Carnaval here (and I think most places, except in England it’s Pancake Day). I didn’t actually go to Carnaval on Fat Tuesday, but luckily Carnaval in Nice goes on for quite a while—Feb. 12 to 28th. The website is here if you want to go check it out and see a bit of video from the official DVD.
Confetti! Color! Sunshine! Happiness! … Carnaval-esque spirit!
I woke up late, but that wasn’t a big deal, since it’s vacation! Nathalie made Quentin and I “tartines” for breakfast, followed by sandwiches for lunch.
The drive there was uninteresting; Nathalie kept exclaiming about the Alps in the distance, capped by snow… they were pretty. Unfortunately, taking pictures out of the front window is a bit annoyingly difficult, as by the time I tug out my camera and such, the view is gone. It’s also hard to capture the true beauty of it; a beautiful, warm day near the sea while you can still see snow in the distance. It’s a novelty for me; the contrast of landscape so close to home.
Still in Fréjus, but you see: flat. Then, mountains in distance! WITH SNOW!
This view is great, and it’s a shame that the road is RIGHT THERE. Do you see how different it is from Fréjus?
When we arrived in Nice, it was filled with people, and it was just after 1. It was absolutely impossible to find a place to park, between the over-crowded streets and confusing one-way streets. It was even worse than when Dad and I went to Nice, as this time portions of streets were blocked off for Carnaval, there were people everywhere, and the parking areas were filled.
We wasted quite a long time trying to find a place to park, but eventually we squeezed between two other cars in the French style of parking (back up into spot; move forward until you hit the car in front of you. back up, hit the car behind. settle into the middle and thank goodness for small cars!). At last, we were near the gates of the Flower Parade, but we didn’t have tickets. (Here, you have to pay to get in). The line by the ONLY remaining ticket booth was HUGE, so we just got into the back. Nathalie chatted with some strangers (people in Southern France are like Americans in that way), while I was distracted by people-watching.
Unfortunately, the ticket stand CLOSED within 10 minutes of us arriving. We joined the MAD RUSH of people to get in, and somehow I managed to slip past the people at the gate with a smile, as did Quentin. Nathalie was locked out, but kept insisting that we go.
“Do you have your cell phone?” she asked from behind the barricade of Security People (that’s hardcore).
“Yes,” I replied. I was really nervous, and Quentin was acting like he wanted to go back out. I was mostly scared that they wouldn’t let Nathalie in, that I wouldn’t be able to find her afterwards, and that we would have come all the way to Nice and NOT see the parade.
Flowers! All over! And pretty dresses.
“I’ll call you afterwards; now, go watch the parade! Quentin, go with Aly.”
So, with Nathalie’s insistence, I joined the crowd and began taking pictures. I eventually moved further and further towards the center, but lost my place as I was jostled or pushed back. The sun was right in my eyes, which was an unpleasant side effect. The crowd was huge, but generally didn’t push or shove you. Some of them wore strange hats, and being short, I was doing a lot of STRETCHING and attempting to avoid taking pictures of the other people.
I didn’t even try not to take a picture here—this is to show the guys selling silly string and confetti and the mimosa.
Finally, I found a good place to rest… until I heard my phone vibrating insistently in my bag. I had shed my outer layer (wool coat), and that was sitting in the top of my purse, keeping me from zipping it closed. Besides the fact that is a BAD IDEA (pickpockets?!), I wasn’t that concerned… because I couldn’t even get into the depths of my bag to find the tiny cell phone!
I guess this is like tight-rope-walking, except it’s on railing, the other side being a bit of sidewalk, and then the beach.
I called Nathalie back a minute later, but since I couldn’t hear, I had to back out into the moving line of people, all searching for a place. Fighting against the flow, I made my way back to the entrance where Nathalie had been locked out, all while brushing off the confetti-rain that had covered me during my journey.
Soon, we made our way back into the crowd, slowly working our way back to were I was, which had been filled in by other people by then. We kept moving, eventually stopping near an open section of the blue-painted plywood fence, where Quentin and I climbed up to rest precariously on the top next to other kids (some older, some younger). We watched the parade go around three times in total, so I have doubles of pictures—each is slightly different, due to the change in position and light.
For example, this is what happens when I don’t pay attention to lighting. Unfortunate looking-into-the-sun position during the parade.
Since I don’t actually have pictures of myself that Nathalie took at Carnaval, here’s a picture I took of myself while sitting up on the fence. Euhhh, let’s pretend it’s more flattering than it is.
I never caught the mimosa (not the drink; that’s what they call the flowers) that they were throwing, as well as the other flowers off the float, leaving some of the floats looking a bit scraggly, I assume after so many days of running the parade.
Towards the end of the parade, we finally got towards the fence at the front. The promenoirs (the people walking in the parade) were tired by then, but still kept those well-practised smiles on their faces. I decided to say hi, so I waved crazily and yelled “BONJOUR” at them with a big smile. My dedication was rewarded with a hug from Death and later, a dude in a shaggy-scarecrow-ragdoll outfit. Oh, and the guys on stilts wearing all red, flame-like clothing tried to intimidate me while I laughed hysterically.
The parade at night was better—the same atmosphere, but a different parade. We had seats right on the street, so Quentin and I kept jumping up with our confetti and silly string to attack each other, the floats, the promenoirs, and of course the people behind us—oh, carnival! (All of those things are normal and do not induce anger.) The same shaggy-scarecrow-ragdoll people picked me out of the crowd and pulled me into their group for dancing and a bit of revelry. That moment, the reluctant me dancing with a crowd of Carnival people—best. ever.
When we finally left Nice, it was late into the night; the way home was quick, and quiet until I broke the silence by saying STAY AWAKE! to Nathalie.
Carnival in Nice, overall: definitely amazing, and even now, months later, I remember it all in so much detail. Add it to your bucket list! :D
Trips to McDonalds: 6