Friday, April 23, 2010

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I've officially negated my 21st birthday. Any excitement the big two-one might have had in the past has been diminished by Europe on this vacation. I've been, as you all know, drinking like a fish since coming here and it's been completely legal. I've gambled legally now, too.

I went to the French Riviera. This is sort of a monumental thing for me; I've been reading about this place since my freshman year of high school when I became a dedicated F. Scott Fitzgerald fan. I expected to have a sort of literary catharsis, here, and I did. As we approached the sea I felt the profoundness coming out of me in droves. "Wow", I'd think, "how my skin has needed to taste the sea" or "Scenery is so much more beautiful when viewed from behind a window. I wonder how different this place will look when I am sitting on the shore." I'm a regular poet, I guess. When we got to our little hotel and I looked around at France, I realized, "Oh true, I'm in France" and for all my profound thinking I couldn't seem to be able to concentrate on anything other than that. The pale windows were French, the musty, sea smell was French, there were French words I couldn't understand being spoken all around me, and outside a nearby bakery waved a red, white, and blue flag that wasn't American, but French. When I got into the room of my hostel and looked around, I noticed how very French it all was. The pastel blue walls with pastel blue bunk-beds made up with pastel blue sheets all screamed France at me; there was a painting of French sailboats and a small French coffee table with cute little French designs carved into the legs. Outside my window a man sat in a white button up shirt and suspenders, reading a book with his circle-rimmed glasses falling down his nose and I couldn't help but notice how very French his little moustache was. I passed out on my bed and promising myself that I'd eat a crepe.

We went to Montecarlo the next day. Please tell me you know what this place is, reader? Next to Las Vegas, Montecarlo is the most attractive place in the world to gamble. Montecarlo is also a place you go to only if you're so rich you can afford to spend 20,000 Euro on a game of blackjack. It was raining out-a cold, dreary rain that persisted the entire day-but the day was gorgeous regardless. I sucked sweet salt air into my lungs and, after hiking through a palace garden that glistened with rain, I arrived in a square that looked out over the entire Riviera. After hearing a small talk about the Grand Prix, which is taking place here in Europe and starts in the Riviera in only two weeks, I took off. Let the crepe hunt begin!

I walked all over the small town, through small passageways where French men in dirty wifebeaters and aprons cooked crepes at every corner. I couldn't decide which man to purchase my very first crepe from and so I walked onward and I found a cathedral. I went inside and looked at the art, said a few prayers, and continued onward. I passed the Jaques Costeau Aquarium and desperately wanted to go inside. The Little Cayman Marine Scientist in me almost did so but remembered my crepe hunt and remembered I needed to meet friends in a half an hour. I reluctantly left but I've vowed that one day I will return to that Aquarium and go inside, identify some corals, and get another crepe. I walked along ontop of the cliff where Montecarlo is situated, watching sailboats laze along in the rain and fisherman catch net after net full of fish. I passed the Ferrari museum, fantasizing about myself inside one of those cars driving along the Riviera with my European license plate and sunglasses. And then I found the crepe of my dreams. I don't know what it was about the little man in this shop but if I had to guess I'd say it was the moustache. Since France I've become a little moustache-happy. He was wearing a cute purple hat on his head and the smell of his crepes tickled my nose. I couldn't take it anymore and I bought one; he smothered it in Nutella and whipped cream for me and I have officially eaten a crepe in France. Achievement.

I met my friends after that and together we went to the Montecarlo Casino. Its really quite grandoise on it's facade, with golden cherubs and a garden with a fountain. We would have gone inside the actual casino but without 20,000 euro to drop on a blackjack game, paying 10 euro to go into a casino seemed a little frivolous. So we went next door to the cheapskate casino and played 5 eurocent Keno for a couple hours. Sorry, 21st birthday, I didn't mean to ruin you! I had my first interesting European toilette experience in this casino. I know, what a miracle, you'd figure I'd have plenty of toilette horror stories by now. When I'd finished in the restroom and went to flush the toilette I realized it was automatic. Something strange happened, though. The actual toilette started to break apart and the toilette seat started to rotate. It was like The Shining of toilettes! I realized afterwards that this was some sort of sanitation mechanism (an actual toilette shining) which is probably revolutionary, but at the time it really freaked me out and I left that restroom very quickly.

We went back to our hostel after that, but not before going to a French diner and ordering ourselves an entire MESS of cheese fries. Bless you, cheddar cheese, bless you. Yup, I've had french fries in France.
Arrivederci, for now.
Love, Gabby.

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