The 5 and 1/2 hour trip from Monaco to Roses was bittersweet. Everyone knows how I drive, so you can imagine that I was like a pig in slop driving the A8, the main artery through the Riviera. Again, every 3rd car is a Ferrari. And those that aren’t are driven as if they were. It was the most awesome and efficient traffic experience I’ve ever witnessed. A 3 lane automotive ballet! And I was part of it without disrupting the flow. The only thing that would’ve made it better was my own car. C’est la vie.
Another thing that we loved about driving the Rivera was a local English-language radio station: Riviera Radio. Their self-agrandizing catch phrase? “From the best yachts to the finest villas, Riviera Radio!” In actuality, it was super cheesy 70s/80s oldies-but-not-so-goodies. But it was a fun sort of camp, and it was much better than the monotone Italian talk radio or French-language Euro Pop on every other frequency. When we lost signal someplace west of Cannes, we knew we were no longer in the Riviera. And pardon the horrible turn of phrase, but when the music stopped so did the ballet.
But before we knew it we started seeing labels on trucks that we could prounounce, and soon thereafter we had crossed into España. I tend to compare many of the places in which I’ve traveled to Mexico. This is primarily because Mexico is my baseline for societies that live below the mainstream standard we enjoy in the US. I almost instantly got this vibe from Spain and I mean this as a really good thing. The roads aren’t in the same condition as in France, and nowhere near the pristine billiard tables that Monegasques enjoy. And there’s a little more dust in the gutters. And there are bars on the windows. But it seems completely without pretense and so full of life. We’ll write more about our experience in Roses over the coming days, but it’s a really great place so far.
This little comparison came to mind when I was trying to explain to Liz cultural differences in Europe. Please forgive the sweeping generalizations, but here it is:
- Italy: Work hard, play hard.
- Spain: Play hard.
- Germany: Work hard.
- France: Don’t do anything hard.
I’m probably way off, but that’s my experience and I thought it made sense at the time.