12/11/2009 17 °C
Plan A - Get a job
OK, we were told of these jobs one can get working and cleaning on rich peoples boats. So we caught the high speed train from Paris to Nice - the capital of the Riviera. We were also heading south because the European Autumn was kicking in.
The highly informative and friendly tourist office in Nice is right next door to the train station. We load up on maps and info, the staff were very good and proud of their jobs. We called several camp grounds near Antibes, where we were told the work is, but all the camp grounds were closed for the Autumn/Winter. Not a good start. Next to Antibes was Villeneuve Loubet Plage. After 6 phone calls we had 5 camp grounds to choose from. Great, we were deciding with maps unfolded everywhere. So if we stay here it would be a this far from the town centre but closer to Antibes, and if we stay there it would be closer to the bus and the beach, and if we do the weekly discount at this one bla bla bla……half an hour later and while the tourist office staff giggled at us it was agreed - Parc des Maurettes - a 3 star camping ground open until 15 November, situated 4km from Antibes, 10km from Nice, and 400m from the bus/train and beach. Sweet, and it was one of the cheapest at 13.45Euro a night.
Parc des Maurettes is a REALLY cool camping spot. Even has its own Jacuzzi/spa/sauna!!! With mickey mouse bathroom/toilet facilities, internet, washing up and bbq areas etc etc loads of trees, squirrels, doves, sparrows, and SUPER friendly and helpful staff. Yes this place gets a wrap! It became our home for nearly 3 weeks.
Plan A - Get a job. Yep next day after arriving we were up at the first sparrows fart for our first day of job hunting. We were so excited at the prospect of working on, and maybe living on and caring for, big beautiful yachts. At the prospect of up to 100Euro a day cash who wouldn’t be excited! The harbour at Antibes is LOADED with them. YIIPEEEE. So we brushed up on some French for 10 mins under a tree, discussed tactics and set off determined to earn some money. But 4 hours later all we had was some not so good advice that the industry had changed over the years, the recession had hit it hard as well, and to put the icing on the cake the season was over by about 3 weeks. Missed the boat one could say.
We hit the local English speaking pubs, as advised, to try and have a beer with some captains and 2nd mates and deck hands etc. Right, I think we can do better if we operate alone. Meet back here in 45 mins…. How’d ya go? Jess ends up getting tuned by dirty language sailors and someone from a swingers club, and Steve gets hassled by a drunk guy. Then, we meet this Australian couple, Chris and Jenny, who came here for a month holiday and 6 years later are still here loving life. It was good to finish the day/night having a yarn to a couple of Aussies and we walked home with upgraded knowledge on how to tackle the job hunting.
After 6hrs sleep we got up early and hit Antibes harbour again, or the ‘walk of shame‘ we find out it‘s called. No luck. This sucks. We also inquired about glassy and bar jobs at the 2 local English speaking pubs - something we forgot to do the previous night??
Day 3, Sunday, we take it easy, regather, and prepare for Monday which turned out jobless too. The guys in the dockyard gave us some hellish attitude. There was no jobs available. Three weeks ago there was. Damn.
We do day trips to Cannes and Nice to do some sight seeing, fun, and job hunting, not fun - the English speaking/Irish pubs are too quiet this time of year and turns out the authorities have come down hard recently on tourists working without visas. No jobs on boats, no jobs in pubs. No work. Time to shift to Plan B.
Plan B - go to the Atlantic Coast near Biarritz and camp and SURF!! Problem - the train there cost $140Euro EACH! France has trains only and no long distance buses except Eurolines who have a no surfboard policy. All right lets look at hitching, which can be done via organised rides through websites such as hitchikers.org. Back in the ol days the travel beauro right?? Anyway, we find another webiste, a French website, Allostop. BINGO a French couple were driving from Nice across Languedoc and Quercy to Bordeaux (2hrs north of Biarritz). With the help of the Ellen and Michelle on the front desk (THANKS SO MUCH GIRLS!) we organise this trip for $35E each, sweet, but it wasn’t until 4 November so we had 1 n half weeks to chill.
We spent the days waiting for our lift hanging out at on the pebbly Mediterranean beaches and having lazy baguette lunches in the sun at our camp ground with the doves and squirells. We also visited the medieval village Haut de Cagnes and took a 2nd look in Nice and explored the old part of town, Vieux Nice, and climbed the Colline du Chateau. The nights were spent playing celebrity Uno. I’m Celine Dion, um, ok I’ll be Janet Jackson. Next game Elton John v Billy Joel. Louis Pasteur v Marie Curie. Pink v Gwen Steffani. Kevin Bacon v Ben Affleck. Steven Segal v Juan Claud Van Damn. Scooby doo v Rex. Ben Stiller v Owen Wilson and we played and giggled for hours.
But then the time came to pack up the tent and leave the Jobless Riviera. It was HEAVING down with rain that morning.
Lucky the sun came out after we had packed up and we could dry everything by 3pm when our lift was due. It went 3:20, 3:30, 3:40, 4pm…Hmmm hope they are coming, lets call. Turns out they are still partying on Corsica Island with no idea what day it was and had missed their ferry back to Nice. HA! The lift was postponed till tomorrow and we were offered to sleep in the TV room so we didn’t have to set up and pack up again.
Beck and François arrived on time at midday apologising. No worries guys. Yep surfboards fit (Astra Wagon), bags in, sweet, and goodbye to Ellen And Parc des Maurettes. We were off to Bordeaux!!! WOOHOOO!