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2015/2016 logistics of how to get to Nice Airport from Cannes for early flights. Nice is the third busiest airport in France (after Paris CDG and Orly). Nice Airport [ http://www.nice.aeroport.fr ]. It has two terminals, T1 and T2. Most domestic flights are using Terminal 1. Most international flights are from Terminal 2. For some time now and at present, there are road constructions around the Airport which make it difficult to commute there, or even walk to the Airport. Between Cannes and Nice, there are several buses (Lignes d’Azur yellow), of which Bus 210 is an express to and from the Airport. Starting at 7 AM in Cannes, at Hotel de Ville, arrival Nice Airport Terminal 1 at 7:50 AM. €20 one way. For early flights, useless. If the flight is scheduled to leave 7 AM, then the time needed to arrive at the airport is preferably not later then 5 AM. Because, since after the November 13th terror attacks in Paris, Nice Airport Security has installed more severe check-in measures.
Other options, of which the least preferred: (1) Taxi cab from Cannes. Costs can amount to €120 for early cabs (4 AM and two suit cases). Plus wherever you live a walk to Hotel de Ville Plaza where cabs normally are. Or pay even more to order Taxi services to the door. (2) Train, TER PACA [ http://www.ter.sncf.com/paca ]. Which would be very cheap, but again the first trains leaving Cannes are still too late. The earliest being the train Mandelieu-La-Nepoule via Cannes to Ventimiglia. Cannes stop around 5:20 AM, arriving the stop closest to Nice Airport at 5:50 AM (Nice-St-Augustin). Too late for 7 AM flights.
NOTE. For later flights, this last option is ideal: take the train to the stop just before Nice Center, get out, then walk to the Airport. Walking now takes longer then 20 minutes, because of the extensive road constructions. Airport signs everywhere, easy not to get lost. Plus, there is also a free Airport Shuttle (Navette) service every 10 minutes, which circles around the entire airport area and between Terminal 1 and 2.
My option: I booked an Airport Hotel for the night before the flight. My flight is at Terminal 2 at 7 AM. The day before I have lots of time in the afternoon to take the train to Nice-St-Augustin stop, walk to the airport hotel, which is a 10 minute walk to Terminal 1. The morning of the flight, early walk to the Airport. Budget hotels running around €55 a night.
Documentation: (a) Plan du Réseau Les Transports des Pays de Lérins. (b)
Aéroport Nice Côte D’Azur Horaires/Timetable brochure which lists all flights, airlines, and a host of other important information (free at Airport). Balcon d'Azur 007

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Spending couple of months in Cannes, la Côte d’Azur, the wonderful warm Mediterranean Cost line of the South of France. Arriving 9 November 2015.

How to get here from North America

Nearest airport is Nice. Most North American flights go via Paris, major airport Charles de Gaulle (CDG), arrival Terminal 2E. In my case, flying Air France/KLM, I needed to take off for Nice from the second big airport in Paris – Orly. As CDG airport is very large, it takes some time to navigate to where the shuttle bus takes off for Orly Airport. Cost €21. As with most bus services, buy a ticket from an agent, not on the bus. Time to circumvent almost all of Paris to arrive at Orly is around 45 minutes. Arrival Nice – a short flight only – Terminal 2. From there an express shuttle train gets to Terminal 1, where the Express Bus #210 to Cannes takes off. Again, buy ticket inside the terminal, not from driver. Cost €20 one way. Time around 40 minutes.

Luggage delayed

I was late getting out of Nice airport, as my checked-in suit case had been left behind in Paris CDG airport. Reason: because I changed airports. Should have picked up my suit case at the carousel at CDG, Paris. However, the Canada Vancouver Airport agent had told me, the luggage goes thru to Nice. Spending some time with the Air France luggage services, which is inside a closed off secure area at Nice Airport. Made a report at Nice Airport. Then took the #210 bus to Cannes.

Mobile Phone

Had my old Motorola W370 (Rogers) cell phone unblocked in Canada. Bought a SIM carte for the largest phone network Orange at Nice Airport. This is the Orange holiday 120 minutes, 1000 texts + 1GB; 39.99. Easy. With the SIM comes a package with instructions for activation. [www.orange.fr]. The number you get has some zeros somewhere, in France use only the number; outside plus 0033 (France), or elsewhere in Europe 00(country code), then number.
Top up coupon Mobicarte available anywhere from super market, newsstand, or Orange agent. Same as in Canada. I buy €25 and get €8 bonus, for example. Recently changed my Orange SIM for another – La Post Mobile, they start €9.99, gives you so many minutes, and messages. Cheapest are messages, calls expensive. Across the border from France to Italy, my cell phone network stops, Orange will switch to some Italian network, La Poste Mobile, not.

Food, Groceries, Markets

Compared to our Canadian prices, regular food items are cheaper. Because we import all the good things. Therefore, it is always a good idea to rent a place with a small kitchen. Find a super market somewhere. Here in Cannes there are several large open air markets daily from early to noon, for all foods and flowers. I found – because of the late season, November – I was better off to buy in the super market, as fresh markets are more expensive. Super markets not much choice in fresh fruits, vegetables.
Wines are also very cheap, can buy in any super market. Don’t forget bring your own bags. No plastic bags free.

Restaurants, Cafes

Comparable, can be expensive, because of the service cost. In four months in Europe I maybe go once into a restaurant. I cook my own meals. Here it is common to eat out lunch in a restaurant, lots of seafood. Cafe is different. Being so close to Italy, fine caffees are standard, a tiny espresso cost €1.40, cappuccino cost around €3.50.
Cafe/brasserie during the day culture, watch out as a single woman. Mostly men sitting around, lots of smokers (though confined to outside, but still). Wait your sweet time for service. I wait 8 minutes, then leave. Yesterday, went to another Cafe, in French ask them if they serve women and tourists. This server came over so quick. All prices in Europe including taxes !

Transportation

Cannes has a good public transportation system: the Palm Bus. [palmbus.fr]  Network plans, individual line plans with times and variety of schedules available also at Palm Bus sales centres, City center, and tourist information. Buses cover the entire region of Cannes and outlying other towns. It is a vaste network, extending over an area of multiple hours travel time. Cost one trip (which incl. transfers) €1.30; ticket of ten cost €10. Useful about the individual schedules is that they can also serve as area maps and plans. As the regular (online) and available here ‘circuit pédestre’ plan is not all inclusive and detailed enough. Most useful is the big Palm Bus map ‘plan du réseau’ showing all bus lines and lots of information. Then the trains (SNCF train station city centre) best of all, get you anywhere fast. [TERpaca.fr; TER=Transport Express Regional). As I rent near the historical Centre Le Suquet, the center, La Croisette, most shopping areas are easily reachable by foot.

Most important the connections between Cannes and Nice Airport

How to get to Nice if your flight from Nice Airport is too early for the regular Express bus from Cannes ?  Taxi from Cannes ?  Not for me, I avoid taxis wherever I am (despite no language problem whatsoever).  Taxi one way Cannes to Nice Airport at least EUR90. Better : SNCF train Cannes train station earliest train 05:17,  stops Nice St Augustine station, very near to the airport (500m).  Then Taxi. $10 train, plus Taxi. Not so bad ! More on Nice [ http://wikitravel.org/en/Nice ]. Link to a comprehensive website [ http://www.seat61.com/Europe-train-travel.htm#Do_I_need_to_check-in_for_a_train ] about all sorts of trains and many practical tips. WRONG is: “tickets will be checked on the train.” Not so.Throughout the SNCF France region (or even elsewhere), before boarding the train, the ticket must be validated in a small machine, which prints the leaving train station and the time of day. Ad-hoc controls on the train (in 2 months only once).

Swimming Pools

For me important. During winter season, most public indoor pools are closed, except La Piscine at Parc Montfleury. It is a large, bright pool with five double (25m) swim lanes, a shallow warm pool and one for small kids. No chlorinated water. Single admission €5.10, also reduced rates. Lockers cost extra. This is a mixed pool for men and women, also in the dressing areas and showers. Life guards on duty. These pools are operated by the City of Cannes. Extremely clean. The Parc Montfleury is also known for its six outdoor tennis courts.

Shopping

The entire length of Cannes and surroundings parallel to the Mediterranean is one big shopping area. With Boulevard La Croisette, and the Rue d’Antibes famous for its many high class and luxury items’ stores. As is Rue Felix Faure. With Rue Meynardier and its narrow historical streets offering the lower priced items.

Safety, Security

Since the terrorist attacks November 13, 2015 in Paris  – not safe anywhere anymore, in Europe or particularly France. I would not go out after dark, not even to the super market. Although Cannes is pretty safe and street lighting everywhere. Just, not hang out anywhere where large numbers of people are. Police and armed Military mainly around train stations, airports, and boulevards with large numbers of holiday shoppers. My next train trip will be from Cannes to Marseille, only a two hour ride.

Seems to be quite common with major cruise ship lines that their big ocean cruisers are infected with outbreaks of the Norovirus. The latest incident: Star Princess sailing from Vancouver on September 19th, 2015 to several Hawaii Islands’ locations, then returning back to Vanvouver arriving Cruise Ship Terminal on October 4h, 2015. Of multiple posts on this particular voyage, this strikes me
[ http://www.cruiselawnews.com/articles/norovirus/ ] as underestimating the severity of a particularly nasty outbreak of respiratory and gastrointestinal disease on the Star Princess. Since I was on this same ship, here is the real story:
My cruise had been sold to me by Expedia CruiseshipCenters. These are experienced cruising experts who have access to all the necessary information sources to make their customers aware of a cruise line’s history of such outbreaks. And there is a history for this particular Princess Cruises’ ship. Soon after embarkation at Vancouver a number of passengers started coughing – the kind of cough that brings up your lungs. I had a balcony, my neighbor to my left was the first to cough. Couple of days later, my neighbor to the right of me started. Then more and more passengers got sick. What they gave them in the Sick Bay ? Tamiflu. This is a viral outbreak, possibly already arriving with the Star Princess from a previous voyage. I complained officially at the Customer Services Desk, request that I like to use my balcony without being coughed at by both sides. No reaction. Throughout this voyage a very large number of guests fell quite ill. Dining rooms started empty out.
On 27 September the first health advisory report was issued by Dr. Grant Tarling, Chief Medical Officer, referring to (simple) cold and fly symptoms,and giving out advice how to protect yourself. In addition to the hundreds of (Alcohol-based) hand sanitizing stations throughout the ship. On 30 September 2015 the second health advisory report was issued to all guests, strongly suggesting an outbreak of novorvirus.
[ http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/about/overview.html ]. Measures were put in place to protect open food buffets, allowing the crew to handle foods with gloves.
On the ship throughout the voyage I was not sick. Arriving back in Vancouver and spending many hours by bus and ferry to finally return home, I was still OK. Until the next day, that nasty virus got hold of me. This type of virus is difficult to fight, because is is the immune system that needs to take care of it, as well as the most important prevention measures – cleanliness. Sanitation.
Question remains: Why cruise ship service agents are selling cruises for ships that are well known to have had multiple outbreaks of this norovirus in the recent past.
My observations on this ship: Guests were still coughing into their hands, using the Internet room and touching keyboards, or coughing freely into the air surrounding them. Or seafood and fruits being served which might or might not have been infected. Because of the fact that the disease started immediately upon embarkation, it can be strongly suspected that the Norovirus was already present when the voyage started. From a financial point of view, it is bad business to purchase a cruise for around $5,000 which includes not only a nice cabin with balcony, food, swimming pools, entertainment of all sorts, but also (hidden) a dangerous viral infestation.

{BTW – I never had any esperience like this in my life.} Rules of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention:[ http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/surv/gilist.htm ]

Why Travel Alone

Because travel alone is often to one’s advantage. There usually is no distraction by travel companions and groups. Local culture can be more appreciated and people can be met easier. In other words: the traveler learns more. Secondly, as a single traveler I can often get much better deals, be it transportation or markets, or anything else I need. I see it again and again when observing tourists talking among themselves, in their own language I might add, being little aware of the local architecture and surrounding. I like to talk to locals. A big help is foreign languages’ knowledge. I learned a lot. I made friends when I traveled, and often stayed in touch after we parted. Immersing yourself in local culture is a rewarding and wonderful experience. Except, today we live in a different world. This type of approach can easily become a hazard to one’s safety. For example, I have spent a couple of months in North Africa, The Maghreb. I speak French, that helps. Today, I would be very careful and recline voyages to certain countries. Russia, Saint Petersburg, one of the most beautiful and culture-rich cities in the world. Possible to go alone. Most Russians are friendly people, most speak at least German. Or as I noticed many years ago when travelling (former) Yugoslavia, in the hotels also French was spoken. In the country, at that time, I had more problems, despite my Serbo-Croatien dictionary, most women on the train I had taken out of Zagreb, did not read. That was then. Today, with so many displaced people around the world, one does not know anymore in which country one is. Including my own home country in Europe. There I am a foreigner, while others like Africans, Balkan, or Middle East, Indians or from anywhere else, are the natives of my former home land. [Verkehrte Welt !]

This year 2015, it is exactly fifty years ago that I had left my Homeland. In fact, there is no Home- Land, because during WWII it has been completely destroyed. Now rebuilt to certain (more or less historic) standards, some like it – mostly tourists – others know that all rebuilding cannot recover any cities to what they were. Old historic cities dating back to many centuries ago. But more than that, it is not only buildings that make a country, a nation, a homeland, or a town. It is the people. Since WWII, which ended May 1945, not many who survived the war (like I did from start 1939 to end 1945) are still alive today. I was very young during the years of bombings, but still remember. Today’s population in my homeland are so different, mainly because they arrived from many countries to settle down. You could say: “we build it, and they come”.
The rebuilding – mostly in the beginning removing rubble – after 1945 re-started slowly and picking up pace, the first years single handedly done by women. Since there were not many men, they had perished at the Russian Front. The few civilians that were left after the many years of Allied bombings (killing off most of them), had to do the hard work. Now, after forty years in North America, I still do not consider where I am now, my HomeLand. I have no HomeLand.

International humanitarian law is based on three key principles.
• Distinction. All sides must distinguish between military targets and civilians. Any deliberate attack on a civilian or civilian building – such as homes, medical facilities, schools or government buildings – is a war crime (providing the building has not been taken over for military use). If there is any doubt as to whether a target is civilian or military, then it must be presumed to be civilian.
• Proportionality. Civilian causalities and damage to civilian buildings must not be excessive in relation to the expected military gain.
• Precaution. All sides must take precautions to protect civilians.
Amnesty International was founded in London in 1961 that is long after World War II. During which millions of civilians were deliberately killed and entire countries destroyed. [‘Barbed wire around a small lighted candle’ being the symbol of Amnesty International.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Amnesty_International_logo.svg ]
How does that look now ? In the light of the more recent wars, which it must be said are also conducted by the same nations (formerly called: The Allies – Britain, America and Canada), joined by other nations, which formerly had been occupied during WWII, nothing much has changed.
What was the military gain expected by totally destroying our home land ? by killing unarmed women and small children ? Protect civilians, how ? When the Allied tanks rolled into my home town which had been fire bombed for 4 years and left destroyed, first order of business was to erect barbed wire fences around our part of town, and set up their camp across in our city park. Afraid, that we small children were carrying guns and shoot at them ? That was probably the reason that when we went over looking for food that the fat American cook chased us out by setting his killer dogs at our heels.
So, I am asking Amnesty International to not knock at my door and ask for donations.
Food for thought: [ http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/syria ], which armed forces are using Barrel Bombs ?? [ https://www.whitehelmets.org/ ]

Bicycle Theft

Cycling season Victoria and regional area has started. And so have the occasional – if you don’t watch out – theft activities of bicycles and cycling accessories. I always have two lock chains (cable) for the front parts of my bicycle and for the rear part, locking up the wheels with the saddle and helmet, and the front with the frame and to a fixed post.
The other day while taking a short break from a trip home and re-organising myself, I must have dropped one of my cable lock chains, could not find it anywhere.
Actually went back that quite long trip next day hoping someone found it and left it on that bench. Not so. Hilarious, because the (3) keys for that lock are right here in my home. Question is: how useful is a bike chain without the keys ? Talked to my bike shop, asking if it is possible to actually break a lock with some hair pin or other little tool to steal a bike which is locked up. They told me, never heard of that, as each lock is calibrated to operate with a unique key. Whoever took my cable lock chain, come on over and pick up the keys. I bought a new lock chain next day.

How Canada’s war veterans of world war 2 perceive themselves in Holland. According to them: “The Dutch people remember us and are grateful for what we have done for them.”
Myself I worked, lived and had a family in Holland for many years, also re-visited The Netherlands many times. Never noticed – even in recent years – that anybody in Holland even cares about Canada in that sense, as the Canadian 90-year old veterans see themselves.
Little anecdote, several years ago, published in our news papers: Canadian war veterans – decked out in medals, berets and full wartime regalia – travelling to Holland again for some reunions. Using the train. The conductor in that Dutch train asking for the tickets. Apparently the old guys had not paid enough fare. The Conductor requested them to pay up. One of the old timers complaining, mentioning what they were up to, (and should the Dutch not let them travel for free? in the back of his mind). NO, said the train conductor, “you pay what everyone else pays”.
Big outcry here in Canada about this incident. How dare they ??

Visiting the Maghreb

The Maghreb countries Tunisia and Morocco are very special to me. I had visited Tunisia in the early 1970s. Then again in 2012. Not much had changed. The history of Tunisia is interesting. Of which the more modern events have shaped a country looking forward rather than being too conservative. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_modern_Tunisia ]. Therefore, it may have been OK to walk in light clothing as a tourist then, but would not be advisable today. Algiers, I have never visited. But following my last visit to Tunisia in 2012 I also spend one month in Morocco afterwards. And what a difference it was. In terms of customs. Morocco is more conservative. Many more women even in larger cities are covered up. Very friendly people. When they are respected.  [ http://www.moroccan-moments.com/culture/ ]
I like to advise travellers to those countries to respect the culture. As a woman particularly, do not wear clothing that exposes your legs – like shorts – or your entire arms. Your visit will be that much more enjoyed, and you will make friends. Not being loud and boisterous, but being respectful of local customs. As a woman travelling alone, stay with women, they are very delightful and friendly, even if their faces are covered up. It helps, if you speak French – second language after Arab. That’s how I made my friends. And that is how one gets around spending less for cab services and get where you want to get. Be prepared – not the whole world speaks English.

Jardin_Majorelle 008

Travel Insurance

For travel medical emergency or any other travel insurance, my advice is, if you travel from the USA or Canada, try not to buy insurance in North America – be it via a travel agency or some local banks or insurance companies, or online. Unless – for medical or other safety reasons – insurance must be bought starting from the home location to the destination country. My experience has taught me, to get far better deals buying the insurance either in Europe or wherever you travel to, in that country. Example: In 2010 I travelled to Germany and spent over 4 months there in Berlin. I had taken out a medical insurance on a broker’s internet site. The insurance had their seat in Toronto, Canada. I had a claim, tried to call the insurance from Germany, on my cell phone, told them I need a claim number. They put me on hold while some old guy in the background walked away from his desk ?  In conclusion, I cancelled this insurance requesting a refund on my credit card. Immediately one day after I bought a travel medical insurance in Germany (including every coverage possible) at a fraction of the cost that the one in Canada had cost me. The insurance in Canada eventually processed the refund, but not my lost telephone costs.
Cost comparison: Canada/USA = $2,000; Germany = €130 same length of trip. Next example: Previously I had bought several package travels with a German agency (also online) including for each a good travel medical emergency insurance. Low cost again (for one month travel = €100).  You can trust these agencies there, they will deliver. And most importantly, they are reachable. I find it more disturbing if an insurance carrier cannot be reached in the event of an emergency (even taking into consideration the time difference) than the higher cost. Reason for the high cost of insurances headquartered in North America is more likely than not the enormous cost for law suits and third party liability suits.