The Week I Made A Last Minute Change To Visit The French Riviera

This Week:

  • Making a last minute change to my travel plan through Europe.
  • The nicest and most unexpected turn of events in Marseille, France.
  • You won’t believe how blue the water is here!

September 2023

Su M T W Th F S

Where In The World Was I?

  • Milan, Italy
  • 🚅
  • Marseille, France
  • 🚅
  • Cannes, France
  • 🚅
  • Nice, France

Live Travel Map 🌎

Pasta, Pizza, and Exploring With A Local (Milan, Italy)

Surviving Thriving On Italian Food

  • Via Pasteria Milano – pasta x2
  • Ciacco – gelato
  • miscusi Cadorna – Paccheri Tricolore, an unexpected delight
  • Chocolat Milano – gelato x2, they have cherry!
  • ‘O Fiore Mio Pizze di Strada – where I met Marco the amazingly friendly Italian pizza guy
  • Greek Fusion – the biggest gyro wrap I’ve ever seen
  • CLANDESTINO non esiste – the unbelievable croissant on the park bench

‘O Fiore Mio Pizze di Strada

Got lunch here in this tiny pizza place.

The guy behind the counter was this big smiling Italian guy. He asked if my boot was for Milan’s fashion week 😂 and asked where I was from.

Later he asked if I liked the pizza and I said “molto bene” (which is used more for things like “I’m doing very well”). He corrected me with a huge smile on his face “molto buona!” and then said

“Here’s your first Italian lesson, Italian 101. This pizza is very good. La pizza è molto buona.”

It was so great.

After I paid, he said “my name is Marco and that back there is [didn’t catch his name] making the pizza and reached his hand out to grasp mine.”

He wished me luck on my travels and with my foot.

I left with this huge smile on my face. Such an amazing person.

Searching For Photography

I looked for some photography art galleries in Milan and found one!

I went to YellowKorner Milano Magenta and it was fantastic!

There’s something about photography that just just fills me up with energy and creative inspiration that I don’t get with anything else. Maybe that’s obvious taking a scroll through my Photography page 😅

The next day, feeling hopeful, I looked for some more, but nothing was close to what I was looking for.

I walked and walked, and struck out 3 out of 3 times – they were either closed (despite saying they were open online), or not my style of art – rocks wired to large sheets of metal…

But there was one last hope! The photos on Google Maps looked like this would be a good one.

I had to go through into this condo complex and up an old elevator which was kind of weird but I went with it.

I rang the doorbell and then walked in.

This guy walks up to me.

I say “you have gallery? photos?”

I see in the back a kind of messy table and some beautiful (and large) photos in the background.

He says “no. It’s private.”

I go “… oh?…” and turn around and walk out totally confused.

I almost felt betrayed because the Google Maps location says “Art Gallery,” the reviews were great, and the last review said something like “Great gallery, free entry.”

However, the more I looked into it and on their website, they seemed to be a business tailored for custom art installations for homes/businesses and NOT a public art gallery 😥

But I felt defeated after this and went back. I don’t get why it’s been so hard to find photography art galleries every time I search!

Until next time…

A Private 1-1 Tour Of Milan

Wow it’s finally here!

Back in Vienna I met this guy at a coffee shop (The Week I Got Fined By Austrian Ticket Officers#The Courage To Ask) and since I told him I was headed to Milan, he introduced me to this girl living there who’s interested in giving tours and such.

Well about 2 and a half weeks later, I was finally in Milan and reached out to meet up!

We walked and walked, she showed me the canals. We stopped to grab dinner at this great Greek place and chatted for a long time.

Then she continued to show me around some hidden gems of the city!

It was fun and I actually really enjoyed our conversation! She also quit her job and started freelancing as a copywriter on social media as well as event organization (like weddings). It was inspiring to pick her brain about how she made that leap successfully!

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😂❤️ Ryan

So what’s next after Milan?

Well, unfortunately, I put off getting travel vaccines (for [REDACTED] 👀) until kind of the last moment… But I came up with this grand plan while I was in Zurich that might just work.

There was only one real hospital in Italy that was part of this International Society of Travel Medicine my U.S. doctor recommended searching through, and it was in Florence.

But, it wasn’t looking hopeful and I was/am running out of time.

So I broadened my search to include France and saw that there’s one in Marseille! It looked perfect online, great website and reviews but of course they didn’t pick up when I called (multiple times).

So I decided to just travel there and show up 😂

I hopped on a train from Milan to Ventimiglia, then Ventimiglia to Nice, then Nice to Marseille.

First of all, the train ride views were INCREDIBLE.

Better than Porto->Vigo, Spain? Mmmm yeah.

Better than through Switzerland? Mmmm maybe. Different vibes, but up there with it!

Of course taking photos out the window was kinda crap (glare, dirty windows, no clear view, etc.) so you’ll just have to crop them with your imagination.

But the real question is did my plan work or did I get screwed by not having an appointment?

Keep on reading…

An Extremely Unexpected Turn Of Events (Marseille, France)

Wow, it actually felt great to be back in France, particularly since I’ve been learning French on Duolingo for over 30 days straight! I was wondering if I’d ever make it back to actually use what I’m learning… But I did!

French Cafe Culture 😍

There was this cafe called Le Petit Cafe literally on the corner of the block of my hostel. I checked it out in the morning and oh. my. lord.

First off I ordered in French!

“Je voudrais… *pauses and points to sign outside* la formule… dej’… Un espresso, un croissant, et un jus d’orange.”

And she understood me 😄

Side note: this seems to be a typical breakfast in France. A coffee, orange juice, and a croissant (or a pain au chocolat). It’s very light! And in fact, it shows in their language too. Lunch = le dejeuner. Breakfast = le petit dejeuner (“little lunch”).

I sat there eating my delicious croissant, drinking my espresso and orange juice, then did a bit of journaling.

I MUST have been the only non-local in there.

Every couple of minutes someone new would walk in, they’d say hi to the people behind the bar with a big smile on their face then go over and shake hands and pat the shoulders of the people at the bar.

There was something about being there in that energy, everyone talking to each other, reading the newspaper (yeah that thing), some on their phones, and hearing nothing but French being spoken.

I don’t know why, but it felt SO fun. It felt so right.

That moment, just perfection.

September 27th 2023 | Le Petit Dejeuner


Sitting here listening to all the locals speak in French, struck with curiosity, wonder, and desperately trying to pick out any words I know.

37 days.

37 days of Duolingo for this moment.

I half wonder how this [French] is even a language people can understand... but it's also kind of beautiful.


A Complete 180 Turn Of Events

So it was the day. I headed to the hospital with no clue how things might end up.

Would they say “oh we don’t have any appointments for 2 weeks?” Who knows.

Would they say “oh yeah we could get that done today, or maybe tomorrow?” Who knows.

First off, a notable side note…

I came out of the metro station and walked around to the front of the hospital. Outside were maybe 8-10 people in white (lab-like) coats standing in a circle chatting. I looked over to see at least a couple smoking.

I looked and then kept walking, then kind of did a double take and thought “wait…”

“Is that not like… really concerning?” 😅 😬 😬 😬

But alas I continued and walked in…

I asked the man at the front desk, “parlez-vous anglais?” and he did speak english! He pointed me to where to go and said if I need a translation that he would come and help me. “Oh wow! That’s incredibly helpful,” I thought.

I asked the woman in the vaccine center if she spoke english, but she did not. So I went back out and asked the guy at the front for some help and he came over to translate!

Basically I explained that I don’t have an appointment but want an appointment for some vaccines. They asked where I was going, what I wanted, etc. and then said the next available appointment was in 2 weeks.

I thought “ahhh shoot” I don’t think that’s gonna work.

But fortunately they said there’s another travel vaccination center downtown and gave me the address.

I started getting flashbacks to Zurich (see: The Week I Fractured My Toe Hiking In The Alps#Zurich Switzerland) getting a recommendation to go to a different clinic.

It had some good Google Maps reviews, but I was a bit concerned that there was no website listed and not a whole lot of pictures. I started to think, “damn, this might be a bust.”

I show up, open the door and this security guard-looking guy is sitting there. I asked “parlez-vous anglais?” and he kinda shakes his head and his hands (like, “ehhh”).

I say “I don’t have appointment, but I want appointment for vaccines.”

He takes me back to the receptionist. I explain that I want 2 vaccines for traveling to [REDACTED] and she has me fill out this form with some information.

She takes back the form and says “okay yeah we can get this done today.”

My eyes widen, eyebrows raise, mouth opens and I go “wait really!? Like right now?”

She sees me completely change and she also kind of sits up, smiles, and says “yeah” (like “uhhh yeah why?”)

I try to explain how the hospital I went to said an appointment would be in 2 weeks “deux semaines”. She probably had no idea what I was saying 😂

At this point a nurse came over, the only one who spoke some english. She took a quick look at my vaccination records, then took me back to the doctor’s office, this big old french guy 😄 The nurse also stayed to help translate.

I sat down, they took my papers, then I explained how I wanted these 2 vaccines, Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies. He asked where I was planning on going, looked at my vaccine records, and did some things on his computer.

There was a bit of a language gap, but despite that, they were both incredibly friendly, understanding, and helpful.

But talking about the rabies vaccine, the doctor was explaining how I would get a blood test at a lab, wait for the results, and then based on if I had immunity or not, I could come back for the rabies vaccine.

I was kind of confused and tried to explain that I haven’t had the vaccine before, but thought “well alright maybe I have some immunity already?”

I went over to the room to pay and they explained the prices (95€ for 1 dose of Japanese Encephalitis, 50€ for 1 dose of Rabies). If I remember correctly, my U.S. doctor said the rabies vaccine in the U.S. is something like $700 so I was thinking “my LORD yes this is nothing.”

We went back to the vaccine room and chatted a bit while she gave the vaccine.

After, she was filling out this sheet when I asked something about the rabies vaccine. She looked at me confused, got her phone out and typed into Google Translate “I thought you said you already had the rabies vaccine” and I said “ohhh, no! I have not had it.”

Somewhere along the line there was a miscommunication. But! She took me back to the room to pay, I paid, then got she gave me the rabies vaccine as well right then and there!

I got all my papers/receipts, said thank you with a huge smile on my face, and headed out.

When I got outside, I thought, “WHAT just happened! I just got BOTH vaccines, like right there, on the spot, no appointment needed AND got my second appointment set up for next week!”

And not to mention how unbelievably friendly, kind, and understanding everyone was in there. They really tried hard to accommodate me just like anyone else.

This was a COMPLETE and utter 180 from how I thought that might end up and oh my lord was I stoked.

My plan! It worked!!!

I was feeling high on life.

The Burger Guy – How 0.73 Seconds Changed Everything

So I ate at the hole-in-the-wall burger spot twice – really delicious, affordable, and lots of calories. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, as they say.

Basically how it works is you order on the screens with your name, then you take your ticket and wait until they call your name. Pretty standard.

The second night I went though, I took my ticket and waited.

But after what felt like half the time I previously waited, I heard “Peter” called, so I walked up.

I said “Peter?” and the guy serving the orders said “Riad” with an understanding smile.

“Ahhh” I said, then sat back down.

After a couple more minutes I stood up and waited by where the orders where coming out.

Eventually he called “Peter,” but when he made eye contact with me he gave a little smile and eyebrow raise (like “HERE’s your order!”).

I took my food, sat down, and ate it.

Everything was pretty normal until the very last moment…

It’s been maybe 5-10 minutes. I get up, throw out the trash, and bring the little metal plate/bin back to the counter.

I say “merci!” as I set down the bin on the counter. He looks up at me, and with zero hesitation, he responds “merci Peter!” as I turn around to walk away.

I take 2 steps, then go, “wait, did he just remember my name?!”

Immediately a huge grin comes to my face, “oh my god, how did he just remember my name? That place was buzzing with orders!”

It was less than a second that occurred, but it was the cherry on top of this amazing day in Marseille.

Beautiful Beaches, Blue Water, And Warm Sand (Cannes, France)

So in my week break before heading back to Marseille for my 2nd vaccine doses, I figured I’d explore this south coast that I saw on my train ride over.

I stayed in Cannes for 2 nights and oh my…

I went to the beach both days, relaxed on the sand, and swam in the unbelievably clear and turquoise water.

The second evening I walked all the way down the beach (20min) to put my drone up but for some reason my controller wouldn’t turn on. I walked all the way back to the hostel (another 20min), then somehow fixed it.

Thinking about walking all the way back was 🙄, but I am SO glad I did…

These are absolutely some new portfolio pictures that will be hung up one day.

Sunset was just as beautiful. Not a cloud in the sky.

Cracking The Armor

I met these people from my hostel room. One guy was this really extroverted guy from the UK.

I was honestly exhausted from swimming and walking back and forth everywhere. When they talked about going out to a bar/club I was like “ehhhhh” I just want to sleep. But when I told him that I think I’d skip it, he goes *heavy UK accent* “nahhh broooo com’on” and persisted that I come out 😂

It turned out the idea was to just grab some beers from a store and chill on the beach.

That sounded much less intense so I folded and decided to go.

It was just 4 of us and honestly that felt like the perfect vibe – a small group just chilling, not, trying to have a conversation with someone in a crowded bar, shouting at each other because you can’t hear anything and keep bumping into people 😅

Most times I feel like I can crack with just a little extra force and he just happened to have it. I’m glad I went and I’m grateful he insisted!

The French Riviera (Nice, France)

Did some more beaching and swimming! The beaches are pebbles and water drops off quickly here!

And an unbelievable sunset!

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The Perfect Trifecta?

I met this guy in my hostel here last night that’s been staying in Nice for 2 weeks. He was telling me how he just feels like there’s still so much to do and see, and that Nice is the perfect combination of beach life and the French city lifestyle.

My impression was that Nice would be another small little town, but it’s really not. The population is just over 300,000!

I’ve only been here in Nice for 1 day/night but I’m starting to understand what he said.

There are tons of little coves and beaches that I want to explore. I love the geography of the mountainous terrain and tiered villages right up against the water. I also love how accessible it all is, you can travel the whole coastline by train and bus.

This area reminds me of the Costa Brava region of Spain (see: The Week I Got Stung By A Jellyfish In The Mediterranean), but it felt like you needed a car to get to all those coastal towns. Here, it seems like you can get everywhere really easily without a car.

This area was never on my first round of travel plans/sketches. I was planning on heading down Italy, to Croatia, then Greece, then wanted to try to squeeze in Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm before my time ran out. The broken toe and vaccine curveballs have thrown a bit of a wrench in that plan.

But my point being, I guess I just wasn’t expecting to like it here this much! You get unbelievably beautiful beaches and landscapes, but you still have that French lifestyle, and can get everywhere super easily by transit.

It’s not even over yet and I’m already putting this as one of my Europe highlights!

In Other Travel News

Speaking of Europe highlights, I did some journaling reviewing some of my travels and highlights.

September 29th, 2023 | Reviewing Travels

From Cannes, France, I think I can say this trip has been a success.

9 countries, something like 23 cities/towns.

I can say... most of these places have started to look really similar, lol.

The highlights?

1. Amsterdam's lifestyle/urban design. I definitely want to spend more time in the Netherlands.

2. I've also really liked the French lifestyle - cafes, the architecture, challenge of learning the language. I want to explore more places here.

3. The Alps were jaw dropping. I also love how close they are to everywhere else in Europe, unlike the Rockies/Colorado.

4. All of this southern mediterranean coast (northern Spain, southern France, northern Italy) is incredibly beautiful - the water, beaches, cliffside towns.

What’s next, you may ask?

Well, I do still have a couple weeks left here, but I’ll leave you with this teaser:


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