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I Made It!

View outside my temporary residence in Sophia-AntipolisOui, je suis arrivé!  Yes, my dream has become a reality.

Today I arrived in the Côte d’Azur of France.  My flight was uneventful which is a good thing as anyone who knows me, I have plenty of travel horror stories.  I upgraded myself on the USAirways flight only to hear this European snob whine about the service.  Right off the bat he was in an argument with the flight attendant about the difference between sparkling wine and champagne (and we had not left the gate yet).  Later during breakfast he actually declared the food as inedible.  Oh well, I held no complaints and knocked myself out with a little Ambien.   I slept for most of the flight which is key to easing anyone’s jet lag.  I had no problem with customs but that might be because I have a brand new passport and not filled with stamps with a few problematic countries (i.e. Zimbabwe, Syria, Lebanon, etc.).

Probably my biggest challenge was navigating around with all my luggage.  With two large ones checked in and two carry-ons, this is the most luggage I ever traveled with.  I try my best to pack light during my past travels.  Yet I managed to get myself to the rent-a-car place with nothing more than minor bruise on my wrist.

After waiting in line for a bit, I finally got my cute little Clio Renault.  Of course everything here is a stick and no automatics.  Out of pure necessity I also rented a Tom Tom.  Since I didn’t have a car back in Philadelphia, it was the first time that I ever used such technology.  Now I fully understand why everyone loves these devices.  Of course it is no surprise the address of my temporary residence could not be found on the Tom Tom.  I probably sat in the parking lot of the rent-a-car place for 30 minutes trying to figure out the Tom Tom and how to navigate to where I needed to be.  Since it could not find the street that was given as the address, I backed up a bit on my Google instructions.  The Tom Tom was able to locate the crossroads right before the last turn to the temporary residence.  Excellent, so I raced down the streets of Southern France.  The machine delightfully in its English accent directed me to my destination not allowing me to get lost.  Being a casual Saturday afternoon, the traffic was minimal.  So I saw the signs for the village of Biot which comforted me in that I was at the right place – or so I thought.  I was at the expected crossroads but I still didn’t see any tiny roads reading Rue Henri Poincaré.  Luckily there was an Internet cafe there so I went inside to ask for further directions.  In franglais, the owner and I worked together with Google maps to located the right address as this place was not it.  I was in the right direction, just not quite the right neighborhood.  So I wrote down some key roads and off I went with my Tom Tom in a new direction.  With the semi-mountainous terrain here in Nice, none of the roads are direct straight connections.  Everything is a messy and windy passage of a snake.   Within 10 minutes I finally found my street but still took me a while to figure out which residence was mine.  There was several extended stay hotels on this road and the name I was given didn’t quite match to what I saw in front of me.  After a little exploration and asking a nearby real estate office, I finally figured it out.  Of course what was complicating the situation is that this is southern Europe, so the registration desk is only open in the morning and the evening.  By now it is mid-afternoon and no one would be at the front desk.  I entered the entry code and voila – the main door opened for me.  Then I opened the safe on the front desk per the instructions given and again, success!  The safe opened.   Yet to my disappointment, the safe was empty as my room key was supposed to be waiting there for me.

No worries, I was too hungry at this point to care.  I simply parked my rental car and found a restaurant across the street next to the grocery store.  I don’t believe the restaurant was technically open (see previous comment) but the server obliged to offer a typical Croque Monsieur and a salad.  With the gorgeous weather, I sat outside looking over the valley.  I took advantage of the free wi-fi and caught on my Facebook and e-mail.

Finally around 5:00, I made my way back to the residence and formally checked in.  I have a simple, clean one bedroom space with a kitchenette.  I managed to keep myself awake resisting the dire need for a nap by going to the pool, supermarket and finally a bit to eat at the pizzeria down the street (the only thing open at 9:00 at night surprisingly).

Today, I smiled.

Categories: Everyday Life
  1. Scott in Philly
    31 May 2010 at 2:11 am

    I smiled for you Scott! Lotsa love and hope to see more… maybe with pictures on this blog?

  2. Cécile
    31 May 2010 at 8:21 am

    Bonjour Scott ! Je pense à toi …. des bises d’Auxerre… !

  3. Alexis T
    2 June 2010 at 8:27 am

    I believe you misspelled the village name “Biot” and you cute “Renault” car ;+)
    I am not surprised that some roads and streets in the back country are missing in the GPS navigator. I happens in other countries too. TomTom didn’t get the detailed data or the updates and the “TomTom Camera Car” didn’t drive in the area yet.
    I went through similar (worse) issues when I arrived in Philadelphia in 1992: the room, that was supposed to be available in the dorms at Drexel U, wasn’t, and the person (of the company I was going to work for) who was supposed to pick me up, never showed up at the airport…
    Tip for when the street address can’t be found. In the TomTom, in the destination screen, choose “Center City”, then type the city/village name. Then you will be routed to the center of the city, usually the City Hall (or maybe the church).

  4. karen
    2 June 2010 at 1:57 pm

    so happy you made it and are looking for “our place”
    all you are missing here is humid hot weather and people sweating to the oldies….oh maybe that’s just me!

  5. London
    2 June 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Alexis – thank you for being my 2nd pair of eyes! I corrected the mispellings.

    Karen – Yes, I have to say it is true about the weather here – gorgeous! Plenty of sunshine and just the right temperature minus the humidity. 😉 Apartment shopping is tomorrow!

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