Sunday, July 6, 2014

#europevacation2014 - the highs and lows (final chapter)


Located in the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea is the second largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur (after Marseille.

Nice was selected as our residential destination on this part of the final legs of our vacation for the location. It is a 30-40 minutes train ride to other two destinations - Monaco and Cannes.

After getting new train tickets from Milan to Nice (via Ventimiglia), we arrived almost 10PM at the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee (only 3 blocks but 20 euros) from the train station in Nice.

The front desk and concierge of this hotel was wonderful and because the restaurants were closed already, and they fully understood my unfortunate incident in Milan, the hotel manager called the bar restaurant to serve us dinner at the bar (instead of having to have a cluttered room service). Tired, hungry and yes, depressed, the Hyatt Regency Nice was a notch in service and style. It would be home for the next 4 days and 3 nights.

Transportation in Nice is perfect. The train station is called Nice-Ville and the Cote d'Azur airport is the second busiest airport in France. While Nice is actually compact - you get the best of the French Riviera in Nice and in Cannes.


Lucky stars shine on you when you've prepared for a vacation but didn't know that surprises awaited you. We were there in time for the Annual Cannes Film Festival. After a late breakfast, we took the short train ride to Cannes. (Remember to get the direct train rides. It takes you there in a shorter period of time sans the multiple stops in other towns.)

In Cannes, there were just rows and rows of high-end luxury shops by the beach. From the train station to the beach area, one will pass rows and rows of restaurants where both tourists and the locals mingle for late (and very late) lunch. And the boats, yachts and ships that were parked on the seaport were screaming signs of wealth and opulence. The lifestyle of truly - the rich and famous.


The Principality of Monaco is bordered by France and the Mediterranean Sea. It is the second smallest country in the world with an area of around 2 km and a population of less than 40,000 people. It is governed by a constitutional monarch and Prince Albert II (belonging to the House of Grimaldi that have ruled since the 1200s) is the current head.

Monaco saw its rise in economics and fame during the reign of Prince Rainier III who married Hollywood star Grace Kelly. The latter was loved by the people of Monaco and the adulated by the world as Princess Grace!

As in the previous leg of our vacation, we were lucky to see the opening of the annual F1 race in this affluent principality.

It's a very small country and don't forget to visit the residential palace of the Grimaldis, the church where the royals are buried, the Casino Royale (from the Bond movie) and the beautiful gardens and museum of cars of the Princes.


The final leg of the vacation (and yeah - we didn't think we would say this, but this was getting too long, too weary and too tiring to enjoy). We took a short plane ride from the Cote d'Azur Airport and landed at El Prat Airport in Barcelona, Spain.

Of all the hotels during our stay, the Ohla Hotel in Barcelona was by far the best! It was the swankiest and had a divine one star Michelin restaurant in its premises. The food was excellent and breakfast was simple and very good! It wasn't one of those buffet spreads that would make you literally puke at the abundance! The hotel serve you Cava Champagne on arrival (with cold towels). It is located right in the middle of the 5 km shopping district! The subway is right in front (to the left) of the hotel and the stores are just miles and miles of walking at our back. What's great about the hotel is the fact that it smells sooooooo good, which is a nice thing about boutique hotels. [Just a note: If you're a bit shy, and you're just sharing the room with a friend, I suggest you get another hotel. The shower in the room is all glass and is found right in the middle of the room!]

Barcelona is Gaudi land. There will always be a piece of Gaudi that you will need to explore and explore we did. For the 3 days stay, we decided to do a hop-on-hop-off tour and enjoy the Tapas and exquisite Spanish Cuisine!

Emirates provide transfers to and from the airport to the hotel of your destination if you're flying on Business Class. It's an added benefit to beginning and ending a wonderful vacation.

It's finally back to reality and back to working to earn enough for next year's vacation!

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