Yesterday I reached Nice; but since my plan was to visit eight countries on foot (all 8 countries that geologically occupy some part of the Alps), I wasn’t quite done yet. I was still missing one country, and that’s Monaco; that’s why I put (Nice) in parentheses in yesterday’s blog entry…
So well, this is Monaco
What can I say about the area where I’m finishing this trek? Well Monaco of course is little more than a joke from history, a relic of feudalism; two yacht marinas, a palace and a casino. Nice, however is a really nice city, and while the entire region is of course a haven for the wealthy and lucky of France, the city itself feels nicely multicultural; and there is a surprising number of backpackers from around the world here.
View down the coast toward Nice
It all sits on the edge of the Mediterranean sea, that beautiful blue inland ocean which has been a cradle of European civilization for millennia, and connection of Europe with the rest of the world;.but which today serves as Europe’s natural barrier against the rest of the world. The Mediterranean separates Europe from Africa, and as such it may also be the world’s most scenic mass grave. How many refugees and migrants have died in this sea trying to reach the fortress Europe? Unknown.
The bay of Èze
Originally I had planned to finish the trek by looping into Nice from the East, via Monaco. But because of my bad leg I took the shortest possible route. So today, to compete this final part of the mission, I took a train from Nice station out to Monaco and walked back along the shore, taking some time to swim and chill at one of the beaches, in the bay of stunning Villefranche-sur-Mer. Sadly, among the many confusing corniches and roads in between Monaco and Nice I got a bit lost, and took an unnecessary detour up a hill in the midday heat, which cost me at least an hour. Well, it’s not the first time I took an involuntary detour on this trek, but I’m happy to say it’s the last!
The last hill of the trek, in Villefranche-sur-Mer
It’s hot here, and sunny – finally the way things should be. Today and yesterday I probably sweated as much as in half of the days of my trek combined (the colder and rainier half, that is). This was perhaps one positive aspect of this underperforming rainy summer: I rarely had to deal with heat, and had to carry less water.
As the symbolic end-point for this trek I’ve chosen a church in Nice. Not for any religious reason at all; no, it’s a church which my great-great grandfather (also named Philip; Philipp) built. In the 19th century and up until his deportation in the course of WW I, he served as pastor to the German protestant community of Nice. So I’m ending the trek by visiting a bit of family history.
The church; Église Lutherienne
Nice and the Mediterranean are at one end of the Alps, and Ljubljana and the basin of the Danube are at the other. It took me 10 1/2 weeks; 67 days of walking and 7 rest days. I’m happy and a bit proud to have made it here!