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Tarragona

Posted by Jen on Jul-10-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I checked out of the hotel on July 7, 2010. We put our luggage into the storage area.

We had lunch at Piscolabis in Barcelona.  Lill Dave had banana paella.  Ivan and I shared super potato bravas, fresh anchovies, Japanese chicken skewers with sesame and soy sauce, spinach & goat’s cheese salad, macaroni with chicken and bread with tomato spread.  It was really good food.

We picked up our backpacks at the hotel.  We got a taxi to the train station.  It took one hours and 25 minutes to get to Tarragona, Spain. 

We walked to the hotel from the train station.  It was a long walk in the hot sun.  It always seems like a longer walk when you’re carrying lots of bags. 

Ivan checked us in to Hotel Astari.  We chilled for a long time and used the internet.

We watched part of the Germany vs. Spain football match in the room.  Ivan thought it would be wise to get dinner during the match. 

We had dinner at Txantxangoori.  Ivan and I shared a few tapas.  Lil Dave got tapas with bananas and a stuffed chicken with bananas. 

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Ivan and I also had a delicious salad with apples, goat’s cheese, walnuts, tuna and raisins.  We also had cod fish with tomato sauce, and fish stock.  It was a really good meal. 

Spain won the match against Germany.  When Spain scored, there was a big bang of fireworks.  At the end of the match, there was a big fireworks display.

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We walked back and soon after went to bed.

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Unique Comedy

Posted by Jen on Jul-9-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I checked out of Hotel U232 on July 6, 2010.  We got a taxi to our new hotel.

Ivan checked us in to Grupotel Gran Via 678.  The hotel gives you a free glass of champagne as a welcome drink.  The staff is friendly.  The rooms are nice and modern.  It seems like we got upgraded since we had a balcony. 

We walked to Sandwich & Friends.  Ivan and I had salads and sandwiches here.  I had the piadina Ivan had the other day with aubergine, courgette, goat’s cheese and red pepper.  Lil Dave had a rolled sandwich with bananas, goat’s cheese and honey.  The food is reasonable and tastes great.

We went back to the hotel for awhile.  We all decided to relax.  Ivan and I used the internet.

We walked around the city.  It was sunny and hot.  We stopped by Giovanni’s to get gelato.  Ivan had chocolate while I had mango.  Of course, Lil Dave got banana.  The gelato is tastes awesome.

I bought a couple souvenirs at two shops. 

We stopped by Evinia bar. 

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Ivan and I drank some good sangria and ate tapas.  Lil Dave had a banana juice with a tapas dish with bananas & honey on bread.

We walked to Teatre Victoria to pick up tickets.  We would be seeing a show there.

We walked to a bar across the street.  Ivan and I each had a tasty sangria.  Lil Dave had a banana colada.  Ivan and I shared fish fritters.

We walked back to the theatre.  It was time for the Charlatans show with the Ashton Brothers.  The four guys perform lots of sketches with acrobatics, mime, song, dance, cabaret and magic.  It’s fast-paced and fun.  It’s really a unique show.  We thought it was hilarious. 

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At the end of the show, Ivan told one of the guys they should have a show in London.  He said they were asked to do a show at Leicester Square Theatre, but the theatre isn’t big enough for the acrobatics.  We should have told them to try for a show in Las Vegas.  You must go see them, if they come to your city.

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Biking around Barcelona

Posted by Jen on Jul-8-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I had a late lunch on July 5, 2010.  We went to Taller de Tapas again.  Lil Dave got 2 portions of banana & chicken skewers.  Ivan and I shared shrimp skewers on bread, salt cod fritters, oven roasted red peppers, aubergine, onions with anchovies, rocket salad, chicken skewers and seafood paella.  The food was really tasty.

We walked to meet the Fat Tire Bike Tours at 4 pm.  The group was split up into two groups.  Our guide was an American guy named John who’s from St. Louis.

We went to the bike tour office to gets bikes.

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Then,we were off to explore Barcelona.  We saw many things like Placa Sant Jaume, Arc de Triompf, Palau de la Mùsica Catalana and Parc de la Ciutadella.

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Me & Ivan at Parc de la Ciutadella

We got to stop for a few minutes at Sagrada Familia.  It’s an unfinished church by Antoni Gaudi.  It’s really big and looks very cool.

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There’s fruit on top of a few towers.  Lil Dave thought he saw bananas, but it turned out to be bread.

The bike ride was pretty easy.  Our last stop was Barcelontea beach.  Everybody sat in beach chairs.  Ivan and I ordered sangria and a tuna sandwich.  Lil Dave got a banana & peanut butter sandwich and a virgin banana colada.  It was very cool to end the tour at the beach.  We liked sipping our sangria and relaxing.

The group headed back to the bike tour office.  It was a wonderful bike tour.  Our guide John was really funny.

We headed back to the hotel to rest.  Ivan and I both took showers.

Later that evening, we walked to a restaurant nearby.  It’s a locals place called Alta Taberna Paco Meralgo.  Lil Dave got a salad with bananas and goats cheese and his favorite Spanish dish bananas bravas.

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Ivan and I shared fish & seafood croquettes, smoked salmon on bread, grilled aubergine on bread, tuna cubes with sesame and soy sauce, courgette flower with mozzarella cheese and pavias salted cod strips.  We really enjoyed the tapas!  My favorites were the tuna cubes and the pavias salted cod strips.  The courgette flower didn’t have much flavor.  Ivan and I shared a rebosteria variada for dessert which is similar to a flan.  Dave got a cake with bananas and apples.  It was a delicious meal.  If you’re ever in Barcelona, you have to check out this terrific restaurant.

We walked back to the hotel and soon after we went to bed.

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Driving around in a Go Car

Posted by Jen on Jul-7-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I had a tapas lunch on July 4, 2010.  We went to Taller de Tapas.  Lil Dave got banana bravas with a banana sauce and grilled bananas & chicken skewers.  Ivan and I shared sauteed mushrooms, potato bravas, rocket salad with goat’s cheese, roasted almonds and quince jelly, salt cod fritters and oven roasted red peppers, aubergine, onions with anchovies.

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The food was delicious.  My favorites were the rocket salad and the salt cod fritters.

We walked to Go Car Tours to rent one of their small cars.  It’s a talking car that has GPS.  It gives you directions and details about the city.  What a cool idea!  Ivan started driving around Barcelona.  Ivan was given a map with different routes.  As long as you stay on the route, the GPS guide will tell you about the city and where to turn.  We went on the blue route first.  There were many sights like the Arc de Triompf, Christopher Columbus statue and the Parc de Montjuic.  We stopped at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) which is the art museum.  There we saw a beautiful view of the Magic Fountain.

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I started driving.  It was a great day to be driving since it was hot and sunny.  We stopped off at Montjuïc Castle.  Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked in the castle and it gave us an awesome view of the city.

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It’s funny driving in the small yellow car.  Everybody looks, takes pictures and waves.  Some people ask where to rent one.  There’s a brochure holder filled with brochures in the back of the car.  It’s very easy to drive, just like a motorbike.

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We drove more and saw the Agba Tower (which is similiar to the Gherkin in London) and Sagrada Familia.  The Sagrada Familia is an unfinished temple by Antoni Gaudi.

Ivan started driving again.  We started heading up to Park Guell.  It was a very steep hill.  Our car was struggling to make it up the hill.  Near the top, we had to push the car the rest of the way.

Park Guell is a artsy park with lots of greenery and a garden.

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It’s definitely not your typical park.  The Park was created by Antoni Gaudi.  It started showering a bit at the park.  It looked like rain would be coming soon.

Ivan drove us back towards the Go Car Tours office.  It was raining.  At least it wasn’t raining too hard.  We returned the Go Car.

We took the train back to the hotel.  We all needed a rest.  Ivan and I were tired from the sun and driving.  Lil Dave was tired from the sun and the bananas he ate in the car.  We relaxed for awhile in the hotel.

We got the train.  We went to see the Magic Fountain of Montjuic.  Ivan read that it’s better than the Bellagio Fountains.

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It’s very cool, with lights and music – but it’s not as impressive as the fountains in Las Vegas.  It’s a round fountain which really limits it.  The fountains at the Bellagio Fountains are spread out and it looks like their dancing to the music.  There was lots of people at the Magic Fountain.  You can stand right near it which is nice.  The cool thing is that the fountain was created in 1929.

The Magic Fountain video:

We walked to Sandwich & Friends.  Unfortunately, the restaurant was closing early since it was a slow night.  We walked to a nearby restaurant called Happy Bar & Grill.  Ivan thought we should eat there.  We shared a tuna salad, bbq chicken and a vegetarian paella.  Lil Dave had a yummy banana paella.  The paella was the only good dish.  The other dishes were quite plain.

We walked back to the hotel to get some sleep.

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Black Eyed Peas

Posted by Jen on Jul-6-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I took the metro train at 12:30 pm on July 3, 2010. 

We started off with salads at Sandwich & Friends. Ivan got a piadina with aubergine, courgette, goats cheese and red pepper.  I got a rolled sandwich with grilled chicken bread, prunes, spinach and Edam cheese.  Lil Dave got a rolled sandwich with bananas, chicken breast and goats cheese.  The food was great.

We went shopping at H&M.  There was a sale going on.  Ivan and I bought a lot of new clothes.  We would be throwing out some of our old t-shirts.

We walked down La Rambla – it’s a street filled with souvenir shops, flower shops and street performers.  There are many tourists and locals walking along the street.  I bought a few souvenirs. 

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We went to the market and Ivan bought fruit.  Lil Dave bought two bunches of bananas.

We took the train back to the hotel.  We relaxed for awhile.  Then, we got ready.  We were going to see the Black Eyed Peas concert. 

We got the train stopping at 11 stops.  Ivan went to pick up the tickets.

We walked to the mall next door.  We ate some sandwiches at Viena. 

We walked to the SOMUSIC – the outdoor stadium venue.  It can fit 50,000 people.  I was bummed that I forgot to put my memory card into my camera.  So, I couldn’t take any pictures.  David Guetta was on when we arrived.  He’s really good.  It’s just weird to see any DJ playing when it’s not dark. 

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The Black Eyed Peas came on.  We were in the Golden Circle.  The bar only serves beer there.  The only place they serve other alcohol is in the other seated area, but they wouldn’t let us go there.  We knew all the songs the band performed like Boom Boom Pow, Imma Be, Pump it, Meet Me Halfway and I’ve Got a Feeling.  Ivan and I wished they played Missing You.  It was an awesome concert that lasted 2 1/2 hours.

– Black Eyed Peas concert picture from Publico.es

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Barcelona

Posted by Jen on Jul-5-2010

On July 2, 2010, Ivan, Lil Dave and I checked out of Citadines.  We put our backpacks in the luggage storage area.

We walked to the city centre.  It was a sunny day out.  We got sandwiches from the grocery store. 

We jumped on the Le Petit Train de Montpellier, which is a tram tour.  It took us around Montpellier passing by sights like the Arc de Triomphe, Musee Fabre, Saint Anne and the Palais de Justice. 

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The tour was pretty good.

We bought food at Monoprix for our upcoming train ride.  We walked back to the hotel and grabbed our backpacks.

We got the tram to the train station.  We left Montpellier headed to Barcelona, Spain at 3:09 pm.  It was a long train ride.  At first, we were seated together.  But, then a guy had a ticket for where Ivan was sitting.  So, Ivan had to move to a seat in the row across from my seat.  I watched 2 episodes of Glee and an episode of V.  Our passports were checked twice.  I guess the first time was Customs and the second time was the Police.  We arrived at 8:20 pm.  It was slightly delayed since they checked passports.

Ivan hadn’t booked a hotel or hostel.  So, we starting searching for a cafe with free wi-fi.  We found a restaurant called Sandwich & Friends.  We each had a tasty salad there.  We used the internet.  Ivan booked a hotel for 4 nights. 

We got a taxi to the hotel.  Ivan checked us in to Hotel U232.  It’s a great hotel that has modern decor.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I used the internet. 

We went out around 10:30 pm for dinner.  In Spain, the people eat dinner late starting at 8 pm or later.  We found a tapas place nearby.  Ivan and I each had a glass of Rose.  Lil Dave had fried banana croquettes.  Ivan and I shared fish in a pastry and potato bravas. 

We walked around the city to get some exercise.  Then, we headed back to get some rest.

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Movie Market

Posted by Jen on Jul-4-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked to the market at 11 am on July 1, 2010.  Ivan bought some fruit and I bought souvenirs. 

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We’ve enjoyed our time here in Aix-en-Provence.  It’s a small, charming city.  There are winery tours nearby, but you need a car to go there.  There are no organized tours that pick you up and take you there.  We’d love to come back to Aix, rent a car and check out a few wineries. 

We walked back to the apartment.  Ivan and I grabbed our backpacks.  We said goodbye and thank you to Alina.  She’s such a great girl.  We had a fun time staying with her and Matthew.

We walked to the station.  We got the train to Marseilles at 12:45 pm.  We arrived at 1:25 pm. 

Ivan grabbed sandwiches at the train station.  We got the 2:05 pm train to Montpellier.  Ivan and I watched shows on the laptop.  We arrived at 3:50 pm.

We walked to the hotel and checked in to Citadines Antigone.  I worked on the blog.  Ivan used the internet while Lil Dave worked on his Math homework.

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We walked to the city centre.  Ivan and I checked out the menus of the restaurants in the square.

We had dinner at Le Cafe Riche.  Lil Dave ate tasty banana skewers with rice.  Ivan and I started off with a good tapas dish of squid in olive oil.  Then, we got a boring salad with squid, shrimps and rice.  Our main dish was a great dish of chicken skewers with rice.

We went to the theatre to see the movie times.  We wanted to see the new Shrek movie.  I’ve only seen the first one.  But, I know what happens in the other movies. 

We went to the theatre.  The lady asked if we needed 3D glasses.  Ivan said yes.  Who really carries around 3D glasses with them? You always have to turn them back in. 

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We sat down to see Shrek Forever After.  The movie was alright, the plot wasn’t very original.  It was only a little funny.  Ivan fell asleep. 

It was late, so we walked back to the hotel. 

-Shrek Forever After poster from IMP Awards

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Gourmet Rain

Posted by Jen on Jul-3-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I left the apartment around noon on June 30, 2010.

We walked to Le Formal for lunch.  Ivan saw that it was the #1 restaurant on Tripadvisor.  The restaurant serves gourmet French food.  They serve experimental dishes.  Lil Dave got a good quiche with bananas and vegetables.  Ivan thought that we should get the set menu.  We got an egg with mushrooms and a tasty tuna sashimi on a cracker for a starter. 

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Our main courses were a stuffed sea bass and a white fish.  The sea bass was wonderful. Lastly, our desserts were a dark chocolate shaped in a circle that had ice cream inside and a sugar tube with ice cream and strawberries.  It was a delicious meal.

We walked around the city.  Aix is a small city with a population of 100,000.  We saw the big fountain. 

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Ivan wanted to take the Little Train Tour.  The 3:15 pm tour was canceled since there wasn’t enough people.  We walked more around the city.

We got back to the train at 4 pm.  We sat in the train.  It started raining and then it got even harder.  The tour guide said we couldn’t drive around since we would get wet – so the tour was canceled.

We stepped in the La Diabline.  It’s a small car that reminds me of the Pope Mobile.  It drove us around the Old Town.  It was still raining.  We decided to get out and walk back to the apartment. 

We stopped at Macrons Maresse.  We got a variety of macaroons for Alina, Mathew and for us.  There was many flavors like pistachio, dark chocolate, praline and caramel.  Lil Dave wasn’t pleased that they didn’t have banana macaroons.

We started walking back.  It was only showering at this point.  A few minutes later, the rain stopped.  We got back to the apartment.  Alina and Matthew were there.  We chilled at the apartment and used the internet.

Matthew’s friend stopped by.  Alina suggested taking a walk. 

So, we started walking to the city centre.  I like the squares in Europe. 

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It’s nice to walk in an area that doesn’t have cars driving through it.  Alina asked if we wanted to see the movie When You’re Strange: A Film at The Doors.  It would be playing at 10 pm.  We said we’d like to see it.  We walked to the movie theatre.  Unfortunately, the movie was only playing at one time at 5:45 pm.  

Matthew asked us what we wanted to do.  Their friend suggested going to have a drink.  We started walked around. 

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We saw a guy dressed like a penis.  Ivan and I thought that it was funny.  His friends took a picture of Ivan and me with the Penis guy on their camera.  Alina went into a fountain. 

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We walked more to find a good bar.   

The group sat down at Bar de L’Horloge for a drink.  Ivan and I each got a glass of Rose.  Lil Dave got a banana juice.  We chatted with Alina and Matthew about Las Vegas and life.

We all walked back to the apartment.  We said bye to Matthew’s friend.  I never did catch his name. 

Alina worked on her project.  She was so happy that she finished it.  It’s a paper for her PHD. 

Ivan and I used the internet.  Alina and Matthew said good night.  It was time for bed for us as well.

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Aix-en-Provence

Posted by Jen on Jul-2-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I said goodbye and thanks to Lil, Aurelia and their daughter.  Their adorable daughter gave us a kiss on the cheek.

We took a bus to Cannes train station.  We bought sandwiches at a nearby shop.  It was 11:10 am and we found out the next train doesn’t leave until 12:57 pm.  We must have just missed a train.

We walked around to find internet.  We used an internet cafe for awhile.  We ate the nice chicken sandwiches.

Our train was delayed 15 minutes.  We left at 1:15 pm.  We watched shows on the laptop.  Our train arrived in Marseilles at 3:35 pm.  We had to switch to another train which would be leave at 4:05 pm.  It was a short train ride to Aix-en-Provence, France.  We got off the train at 4:50 pm.

Ivan called Alina, the couchsurfer we would be staying with for two nights.  She said that she and her boyfriend would be there in 10 minutes.

We met Alina and her boyfriend Matthew.  We all walked to the Mairie square. Alina had to scan a few documents.  Then, we walked to their apartment.  We had to walk up four flights of stage to the top floor.

We chatted a bit with Alina.  Ivan and I took showers.  I was tired for some reason even though we didn’t do anything except traveling on trains.

Alina had to do some schoolwork.  She said we should walk around the city.  We planned to meet up at 8 pm at the Mairie square.  Lil Dave stayed in the apartment to do his Math homework.  He was also going to study for an upcoming test.

Ivan and I walked around.  Ivan thought we should eat.  Alina said we would have wine at the park later.  He thought he heard Alina say there would be bread and cheese. Just in case we weren’t eating later, we wanted to have something in our stomachs.  We didn’t want to drink on an empty stomach.

We had dinner at Chez Laurette.  We ordered salmon with cream and herbs and a monk fish and peas tangine.  The two dishes came out together.  Ivan thought we should eat the tangine first since it’s hot.  I think the translation was wrong because the dish didn’t contain peas, but instead came with green olives.  We avoided the olives and ate everything else.  The tangine was a nice change from the baguettes, cheese and pasta we’ve been eatings.  The salmon tasted good on the hard bread, cream and herbs.  The meal was good.

We walked to the square to meet Alina and Matthew.  We walked to Park Jourdan to meet some of their friends.  The Park is supposed to be closed at 8 pm, but everybody always stays longer.  Most people jump over the low gate to enter when it’s closed.

One of their friends was leaving Aix to go back to Germany.  Alina and her friend set out cheese, bread and wine.  There was lots of food.  Ivan did a magic trick.

More of their friends came.  Ivan and I ate cheese and drank good Bordeaux wine.

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It was nice to relax in the park.  Ivan and I chatted with Alina about movies, life and hypnosis.  One of their friends also did a few magic tricks.  Alina mentioned that Ivan does hypnosis.  A guy wanted Ivan to do it at the park.  But, the induction has to be done in a quiet place.  It definitely wasn’t quiet in the park.  We had a good time eating cheese, drinking wine and chatting in the park.

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We walked back to the apartment at 11:10 pm.

Ivan and I went on the internet.  Alina worked on her school project. Matthew and Alina said good night.  Soon after, Ivan, Lil Dave and I went to bed.

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Cannes

Posted by Jen on Jul-1-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I took a bus to Cannes on June 28, 2010.  It was around 10 am and a warm day out. 

We walked around the city.  Ivan bought some new shoes.  We also picked up a towel for me. 

We wanted to eat, but the restaurants start serving lunch at 12 pm.  So, Ivan and I each had a glass of rose at Cristal Cafe. 

We had a lunch at a little restaurant called La Farigoule.  The waitress spoke very little English.  Ivan and I shared the set menu: fish soup, a white fish and a strawberry tart.  We also got gnocchi with basil.  Lil Dave got spaghetti with chicken and bananas.  The food tasted great.

We walked to the beach.  It was really hot out.  The beach is just an average beach.  We laid on the beach reading our books.  Ivan and I went in the cold water for a few minutes. 

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We laid back down and fell asleep.  Lil Dave was running around and playing with the kids.  He also took a monkey nap on the beach.  It started getting cloudy – so we left the beach.

We got on a tram ride around the city.  It was an hour long.  It wasn’t as good as the Monaco tour.  The tram also had headphones with 8 languages to choose from.

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We stopped at a lookout area for 10 minutes that had a great view of the city.  The tram passed by many sights like Palm Beach, Palais des Festivals, Hotel Martinez, La Croisette and Musee de la Castre.  There was lots of driving around, but not much information given.

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Cannes isn’t as upscale as we thought it would be. Most of the buildings are 80’s style.  There are some nice stores.  There’s nothing really trendy about it except for a few nice hotels.  Ivan thought there would be many posh restaurants and bars. 

We got the bus back to Cannes La Bocca.  We chatted with Lil and Aurelia.  I played with their daughter.  The daughter kept throwing Lil Dave in the air.  Poor Lil Dave has bandages all over him now.  She really loved it though.  Their daughter Candice smiles so much.

Ivan and I had French red wine with cheese and bread.  Lil Dave put some bananas on the bread.  Lil cooked dinner.  We had omelets with vegetables.

Lil has bronchitis, so he went to bed early.  We said good night later to their daughter and Aurelia.

We used the internet for a bit and then off to bed.

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