Yesterday, the 23rd of June, was Jaanipäev, which is the Estonian midsummer celebration. The tradition is to gather with friends and family, then barbeque, sauna, and make a big bonfire. It is similar to the 4th of July in the US, but without the fireworks. Unfortunately, it rained all day yesterday, which sort of put a damper on the celebrations. Nonetheless, bonfires were made and lit, but it turns out that wet wood doesn't burn so well... So instead of a bonfire, we got the Smoke Monster from LOST.
|Now with free smoke inhalation!|
Aside from this small mishap, Jaanipäev was a nice day. There were patriotic songs playing on the radio and folk dances on TV... It was like Estonia's third Independence Day.
But now, on to the second half of EUROTOUR!
So after our long, yet scenic, drive through the French Alps, we stopped for lunch in Sisteron. Sisteron is a small town in southern France, with an old citadel perched on a high hill. It was a really cool place, because it was our first introduction to southern France -- i.e., hot weather and blue skies!
|Citadel on the left, mountain on the right. Not bad.|
|One of the numerous back alleys of Sisteron.|
After lunch we moved on to Nice, which was, for me, very strange. The scenery was really different from what I'm used to... There were palm trees and cacti all over the place, the water was a light blue, and outside it was actually hot! We had the opportunity to spend some time at the beach in Nice, but I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I decided to just relax on the beach and save the swimming for Italy.
Soon, we moved on to our next country...
I can see why a lot of rich people live in Monaco and southern France. The climate and scenery is unbelievable... Monaco was especially cool because you could see the whole country just by standing in one place!
|Lovely water, contrasted with a lovely seagull.|
|The famous Monte Carlo Casino.|
|Watchers of F1 may recognize part of the roads in this picture as some of the famous track in Monaco!|
In Monaco we also visited the famous Monte Carlo Casino, which was naturally surrounded by fancy/expensive cars and finely dressed people... so we left as quickly as possible and drove to our next country: Italy.
Genova was the first stop on our Italian tour, but only for the night. Nonetheless, some of us decided to take a walk at night to the nice old town center... but, after seeing five prostitutes and a group of angry Italian men in under 20 minutes, we decided to just call it a night and head back to the hotel.
The next day we headed to Verona, where we saw the famous Romeo & Juliet balcony, ate pizzas, shopped, and luckily, did not encounter any prostitutes.
The day after Venice we were given a free beach day to spend in Lido de Jesolo. We sunbathed, swam, and played frisbee all day until nighttime, when I went with some friends to get delicious, tiramisu-flavored gelato... which we then ate on the beach. So I guess it's safe to say we spent the whole day on the beach!
Also, after spending a year up north in Estonia and Finland, the sun burn sets in pretty quickly. A lot of us found that out the hard way!
To keep this post at a reasonable length, I'll have to stop here. Look for the rest of Italy, Austria, and Germany in the next chapter of... EUROTOUR!