Wednesday 25th September – I stand in the shower until all the hot water is gone.

We checked the GPS and a ‘which bus do I catch’ site to figure out how to get to Monaco to see the house built and lived in by Barones Bėatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild. The GPS things says 8.1km. Bus will take 1hr 20mins. Walk will take 1hr 44 mins. “Hell, I say to Gilbert our block is 6.2. Why don’t we just walk?” So we head off at a nice brisk pace. We’re so fit! We laugh and comment on how lucky we are it’s overcast. It’s a perfect day to walk’ we can’t help but comment to each other a couple of times. Probably will walk back as well! Smiling and loving the ducking between cars as we cross and looking in shop windows as we pass. I bring my shoulders back and tuck my tummy in and imagine all the ‘good work’ I’m doing. We’re as fit as two buck rats I smile to myself….then the hill started.

Of course there’s a hill I remember. It’s right round the other bay. Oh well, this is good. Nothing like a good blow out! The hill goes on and on and on, and each few metres it gets steeper and steeper. We reach the top of a bit of a rise and I sit on a seat. “I need a rest” I call to Gilbert who’s hardly puffing. He sits and waits and chats amiably while I focus on breathing. Nice view. What, oh yeah , the view, yeah nice. Round the corner and more climbing we’ve been going about an hour and a half. How far now I gasp, fairly sure the answers going to be 10 mins or similar. “We’re about half way” Gilbert says…WTF!

“How can that be we’ve walked for so long!” ” Well that’s what it says”, he answers, a little unsure as well. We get up and I steel myself. It’s probably distance rather than hills I think, but we round the next corner and it goes to the heavens. Gilbert’s already off and I just concentrate. One foot in front of another. Push, think of all the weight you’re losing, I tell myself. Probably a couple of kilos cause this is hard work. I push harder. Shoulders are slumped. Bellys slack, calves are starting to cramp and above my knees is turning to jelly. Gilbert turns and looks at me and stops and waits. He’s puffing too and offers to take my bag. “It’s not my bag that’s a problem, I tell him, it’s the bloody mountain were climbing”. Is there not a ‘easiest route’ on that damn GPS? “I think this is the last hill” he says and we turn and start heading up some more. Finally at the top we sit on a seat for old people who need to rest and turn to find a guy of about 70 who’s walked up behind us. “Probably walks up here everyday” I tell Gilbert. Bastard! Oh but will ya look at the view!

It’s here I really appreciate what we’ve done. Can you see the hill that comes down to the water far left of the pic? Well we walked about an hour other side of that hill, over the top and round to here. Now we’re making our way down.

“Shall we get a taxi Gilbert asks?” Now this means I must look like I’m going to die. Cause I can almost count on one hand the amount of taxis we’ve caught in our life and we both heard that taxis are an exorbitant price in France. I’ll be ok I say thinking I’d rather buy a whiskey than get a taxi and we head off again. Turns out we had reached the top and it was all downhill from here.

I don’t know if you know, but downhill can be as bad as uphill. Especially if your legs have turned to mush and Gilbert starts to struggle with his knee worrying him a little. Plus now there’s a million steps and he’s not so good on steps without a handrail, so we have to hold hands and he uses me to balance. At one section there’s three young ones waiting at the bottom and as soon as we reach the bottom they start to run up. That’s their challenge for today! They turn back and laugh with us as we wish them well….or maybe that was ‘at’ us?

We reach the coast road and it’s all pretty straight going now, but I’m pretty tired and then suddenly remember I have lollies. Four lollies later I’m back on track. “I think I had low blood sugar”, I tell Gilbert as he’s dipping into the supply also….another bit and were there. It took three hours you stinking GPS. Thanks for taking us the high road as well as the long road!

Oh, but it was worth it. Four acres of achingly beautiful gardens and early 19th century opulence inside with 17 and 18th century collections of de Rothschild family. Tapestries and China. Silks and watercolours. She inherited millions and had no children, so her life was filled with pure luxury, day, after day, after day. She traveled, collected and entertained, and we get to enjoy it now.

We spend an hour inside. This is a tapestry hanging in a downstairs salon

…and two hours outside. I found the garden so compact with cote d’azur on one side and the mountains in the distance in the other. Nine different themes tucked into four acres of hillside. From French formal to exotic, Japanese to Spanish. I must have taken 100 photos so Lindy and Anne, we’re going to have some fun looking at these and yep that’s a rotunda at the end and centre of this view.

The is the view looking down from the loggia.

It’s almost six when we leave and I can hardly walk. My hips feel like someone threw some crushed glass in there. We decide to get the bus back and find out its two steps from the gate. I can’t believe we walked this when we could’ve caught a bus to the door! It costs the exorbitant rate of 3 euros for us both to get back. I am so glad we’re not walking back. I’m pretty sure I would’ve started crying so shattered am I. A kiwi girl who’s lived here 11 years hears our accent. She’s working as a chef here and we chat about life here and ‘must dos’ before she gets off.

We get off and stop at the first bar we find. Gilbert enjoys a pint and I get my whiskey. Along with some bar tricks from the bar man who throws ice in the air about seven times before he finally gets it in my glass. We all laugh and it certainly takes the edge off my hip pain which I think is possibly getting somewhere near the pain Maree experienced for a good year or more before she had her hip operation. Man. I couldn’t take that for too long Maree!

We head home stopping at the Boulangerie. I have to cook tonight as I have a chicken breast that must be used. I slice and toss it in olive oil with garlic, onion, courgette and lastly mushrooms with a tomato pulp and tip the whole lot over some pasta. A glass of red and the olive bread is delicious and perfect to refuel. Then I stand in the shower till all the hot water is gone and tell Gilbert he’ll have to wait for the water to heat as I crawl into bed. Fit as two buck rats…pwiff!

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One Response to Wednesday 25th September – I stand in the shower until all the hot water is gone.

  1. renanopolis says:

    HahahHa awesome story Mum, good work! X

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