Two Girls, SNCF and the French Riviera (French Diaries – Part II)

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

-Martin Buber

2014: The Meet Cute

Strolling through their college campus in the city of Bangalore, Gaurika finally saw who she was looking for. From a distance she could see that Rachna was chatting away (as she had expected) to some of her college friends. Within the next few minutes, Gaurika was by her side and said to her “You know Charu ma’am says Hi!”

Taken aback, Rachna couldn’t understand how someone she had never met, knew about her school teacher. It took a few minutes for her to realize that the cheerful bundle of joy she had just met was a girl from her school back in Hyderabad. And just like that, the two girls had a thousand things to talk about. One who was familiar with the new city and the second who had so much to hear about!

February 2018: The one with the Facetime 

Four Years later, Rachna and Gaurika found each other in far off lands, the former studying in the land of Fondue and the latter in the Land of Gelato! And where would they meet? In the land of Croissants, of course!

In the midst of their busy schedules, they finally fixed a date to call each other and plan out their spring break. What they thought would take a maximum of half hour or so, went on for over two hours, because guys, coordinating and booking is not easy! And definitely not fun (more so because they were depending on their fathers’ credit cards!)

Bruce Almight typing scene.gif
Multiple bookings? We got you covered!

If the train timings matched, the seats weren’t available or were too expensive. If it was cheap, the timing wasn’t right, and they could just go on, and if they got all of it right, the accommodation wasn’t. With a help from another friend (who will shortly feature), they came to a conclusion and made the bookings before all of their devices ran out of charge and they themselves drained out.

April 2018: The Real Grand Prix 

After all of that planning and all the wait, Garuika and Rachna were finally going to meet! Gaurika was to reach Monaco in the morning as she was traveling from Milan. Rachna, who was traveling from Marseille was to reach by noon. They were both sure that with smartphones, the internet and whatsapp, they would find each other in a jiffy!

Finding .gif

Gaurika had told Rachna exactly where to come, and how to get there once she gets off the train. Little did they both know that Rachna’s Google Maps would decide to betray her on that particular day. It was so bad, that Rachna was walking in the exact opposite direction of where Gaurika was. Rachna’s phone was about to run out of battery and Gaurika’s internet stopped working (first world problems always find a way to haunt you!)

In a small city like Monaco, with one central landmark (Monte Carlo, of course) one could not possibly go wrong with directions. Having spent all day in Monaco, Gaurika was fairly well versed with the city and drafted a set of directions for Rachna to find her way to Gaurika, post her arrival. Confident about the directions, Gaurika went around exploring the city and reached the beach in the evening as that was the decided point of meeting. With her net working fine, Gaurika was constantly updated with Rachna’s whereabouts and knew that she had arrived and was on her way to the beach. 10 minutes passed by which later became 30 and there was still no sign of Rachna. With Monaco being so tiny, there was no way it could have taken Rachna so long. Sensing something was wrong, Gaurika tried ringing her up, but the phone obviously did not connect. Jumping around, trying to find the signal, Gaurika was apprehensive of moving away from the spot in case Rachna arrived just then. Plus if there was one thing that Italy taught her, it was to never leave her bags and suitcases unattended. Unlucky with the Gods of network, Gaurika had lost all hope and her concern took her to the streets, requesting people if she could borrow their phones, but well how could she forget that “elle ne parle pas français”!

Desperately asking multiple people for help, a cafe did come to her rescue and granted her access to wifi. One quick call to Rachna and with the support of the barista, Gaurika discovered that Rachna had made her way to the exact opposite end of Monaco and would take a while to get to her. Trying to explain the directions to her went in vain as at this point everyone was equally lost, tired, and famished. Flash back to the central landmark, and thanking Selena Gomez for popularising it amongst people our age, the plan was to reach Monte Carlo and then redirect Rachna to the original point of meeting. Somewhere between sketchy wifi network and using lushy lemon trees as points of reference, Rachna finally made her way to Gaurika and oh, relief does not even begin to describe what they were feeling. But hey! They were still in the French territory (conditionally) and no matter how stressed or exhausted one is, one must always look chic or at least pretend to be! Let’s pretend that this never happened and instead sit down and have a coffee now, shall we?

In case you didn’t already figure out, they were in the most expensive place in the world, so a little hunting for coffee was the next task. But it was worth it, they found a Starbucks with quite the view 😉

IMG_6872
Rachna has convinced herself that she has started paying for the views and not the service!

As much as they would have loved to enter the casinos and blow up all the money they did not have, they thought why not go back and explore the part of the town Rachna had already seen (This time, Properly). They were already under the assumption that Monte Carlo was overrated, simply because to do anything you would have to be loaded. However, secretly, they had both grown fond of the place in their own way because it had turned out into an unexpected adventure of finding one another. To Gaurika, the cafe who helped her had become her symbol of Monte Carlo and to Rachna it was the Security Guard who finally put her on the right track. It was also the place they tried to have their Selena Gomez moment (and in their own funny way, I think they did!)

 

As per what they would recommend as a to – do list in Monte Carlo:

  1. Get Lost
  2. Find your way back
  3. Really, there is only one stretch to walk
  4. But take it all in  – The cars, the chicks, the money (if only), coffee at Starbucks, and your FULL ON SELENA GOMEZ Moment!

 

Monte Carlo.gif

Now a piece of information that would be useful to proceed with the story is that SNCF i.e. Société nationale des chemins de fer français which is France’s national state-owned railway company was on a strike (the girls couldn’t have chosen a better time to travel to this country) and that meant the trains could be cancelled at any point in time and the girls were prepared to work out alternatives in the worst case scenario.

Their next destination was……any guesses?

IMG_6929

Doesn’t look as happening without the Festival does it? That’s what Gaurika and Rachna felt too. However, their first night in Cannes was rather eventful. The girls tried their best to stick to as much of a “Budgeted Travel” as they could and avoided cabs, restaurants and instead resorted to walking and having subs for their meals. When they got out of Gare de Cannes, they decided to walk towards their Airbnb as it showed roughly about 25 minutes by foot. When they started walking, to their delight they spotted a Subway. And for Rachna, finding a meal that was less than 10 euros definitely qualified as “budget travel”(Thanks to the ‘Swiss Effect’). After requesting for a take away, they once again proceeded to walk. Google Maps was clearly not in the right mood that day, because what was expected to be 25 mins, turned out to be almost 40.

Walking.gif

But Alas! All is good when you have the best host, don’t you agree? And how many of you can say you have stayed in a Church? Yes, you read that right. While making the bookings, they had both been in such a hurry, that they never realized their first Airbnb was actually inside a Church. And guys, it was quite EPIC.

IMG_6879.jpg

The pang of colours was just the therapy the two girls needed. Suddenly, they felt confident about the place and already regretted booking the room only for one night. Their host, Beatrice was beyond lovely and her genuine warmth put the girls at ease.

The next morning, after relishing on the breakfast prepared by Beatrice, it was time to explore the next part of the French Riviera.

IMG_6931

Even though it was breath – taking as expected, a recommendation to anyone planning a trip here, is to visit during the festival. And if you do plan another time, try visiting more offbeat places such as Antibes and Eze Village rather than spending more than a couple of days in Cannes.

After walking along the Riviera for a bit, the day unfolded in the form of window shopping, hunting down crepes and post cards. Before they knew it, it was time to back, bid goodbye to their wonderful host and set out on their next destination.

Have you ever been chased down by a dog for your Pizza, in the Rain?

This next destination had a rocky start…

 

 

 

Advertisements