2 Lesbians, a Drunkard, and a Red Carpet
Trip Start May 18, 2009
4Trip End May 20, 2009
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Where I stayed
Villa Saint Exupery
Although we had not made any plans yet, we must have felt a force lure us outside quickly, and we found a laminated board that the staff at the hostel created. It illustrated a bunch of options we could do within a day trip vicinity of the hostel. I couldn't believe how close to Cannes and Monaco we were.
"Let's do Cannes", I told the boys. Another hostel guest had overheard me and asked if were were planning on going to the film festival. What? There was no way our luck was that good that we just happened to be near Cannes during the international film festival. Turns out it was. We were so stoked to get there that we didn't even go back upstairs to change. Wearing only my bathing suit and a cheap shirt, the next thing we knew, we were back on the tram taking us down from the mountain that was home to our hostel.
We had a short wait after we bought our light rail tickets, and we met three people from Orlando, Florida: Julie, Katrina, and Mike. I didn't feel so bad about the Cannes thing anymore because none of them knew the festival was going on that week, either. We invited them to join us, and the two girls accepted. Getting off the light rail early and walking to the train station was a great idea because we were able to capture some of the French architecture and water fountains that helped make Nice a special city.
Cannes was about 40 minutes away by train. Julie and Katrina sat across from us on the train, and we were discussing what celebrities we'd like to see if we had to pick one. While waiting at the Nice station, we had heard from others that the guest list included big time names like Clint Eastwood, Hillary Swank, and Quentin Tarantino. The girls just turned into mush whenever we talked about Angelina Jolie, who supposedly was there in Cannes. I wondered why the girls kept drooling over her, until I looked down and saw them locked in hands. One could then put two and two together.
When I got off that train, I was on cloud nine. I hadn't even seen a celebrity yet, and I was already star struck. A massive billboard hit me in the face: CANNES. And that was all it took. The streets were exactly what you would imagine cozy France to look like. I was stone sober, but Kevin was fast on his way to three sheets status. When I go to foreign countries, I am frequently thinking to myself: "What can I do to not be the typical, obnoxious American tourist?"
I suppose all I had to do was glance over at Kev. This kid was lumbering through the streets like a wounded bear, dangling his Heineken mini keg and letting it slap against his leg so as to make it a nasty pouring experience for the rest of us, all the while sporting his rainbow trousers. Way to put Americans on the map, Kev! Considering my often-crazy past there are few times where I feel it's appropriate to step in and correct someone's behavior. I had no qualms about scolding Kevin. "Stop being obnoxious. You're making us all look like tools here, and it's bad enough we're dressed like them!"
Sooner or later, there it was: The Red Carpet. So important and fancy that I felt the need to capitalize the word "the". I couldn't believe it; it was so empty and was just begging to be walked on by me. Of all the times I could have looked like VIP and didn't, I had to settle for the pic of me looking insultingly under dressed, and the sign in the background boasting: 62 FESTIVAL DE CANNES. At first, it wasn't as nuts as I imagined. I suppose we got there a little early because the French version of SWAT was just showing up and no one was screaming any names I recognized. Oh well, let's hit the beach. The boardwalk was adorned with shiny, bright white tents that the well-to-do were using as resting posts before the big show. While gawking in the tents and not watching where I was walking, I ran into a goofy-looking British guy with weird hair. He was nice, introduced himself as "Robert", and walked into one of the tents. I kept walking to find a good spot on the beach for us when some French girls ran up to me, screaming in their language. Finding out I was an American, they switched to English and asked me, still out of breath, "Sir, do you realize who you just touched?! That was Robert Pattinson!"
"Who's that?" I asked, feeling like I had violated some international privacy law.
Both of them, in unison now: "EDWARD FROM TWILIGHT!!!!!!" What can I say? I hadn't seen the movie. But meeting a celebrity always makes for a good story.
Now we were more focused on what we could do to top that, and my solution was renting a small boat for $200 Euro per 30 minutes. Ah, to live like kings while in Cannes. Strolling along the beach and looking around was all I needed. The boardwalks and piers were teeming with rich people dressed in all white, as if it was the accepted, mandatory dress code of anybody who wanted to be anyone for a day. Mike and I talked about whether or not we would ever experience something like this again. Personally, I knew I would in some rank or another. Laying out on the beach was ironically the least relaxing part of the city, as we constantly got disturbed by the false alarms of celebrity sightings and the foreign salespeople relentlessly trying to bargain with us. Amazingly, a friend of Kevin's from elementary school in Georgia walked by and recognized Kevin. His name was Jason, and he turned about to be nothing like Kevin. He was a real connoisseur of traveling solo, and it made for some great conversation.
The sounds of police sirens soon filled the air, which were then followed by the mobs of people drifting toward the red carpet. Jason and I must have taken the back way there, because we got lucky with a nice spot right along the rails; great view and everything. Being tall really helped our friends Katrina and Julie, and they squeezed their way up to us for a front row seat...or stance. Less than five minutes later, I turned around and saw what must have been thousands of people packed in to see the action. I tried to be sparing with the pictures I took of the celebrities so as not to block the people's views behind me. The girls soon turned their affection for Angelina Jolie into a brief obsession with Penelope Cruz. Michelle Yeoh from China was well received, but as soon as Penelope hit the carpet, the crowd exploded. Everything was in French of course, so all we could make out was "blah blah blah Penelope Cruz blah blah blah". Frankly, I couldn't wait for Penelope to get into the building, because an annoying lady about five rows back had one of those shrilling screams that seemed to never wear out.
"PENELOPEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" <pause three seconds> PENELOPEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
I can tell you one thing after that day: looking at celebrities all day is actually quite exhausting. I had lost my buzz by then, and the sun was setting rapidly. We took the train back to Nice for the night because we heard that many people from our hostel were going to go out on the town and throw down. After a much needed shower, we rolled down to the bar in the hostel lobby, and it was thumping with energy. They had tall boys of terrible "beer" for only $1 Euro, and we took advantage of that before heading out to the evening's popular destination: Wayne's Bar. On the tram ride down the mountain, I asked Johnny Irish (don't ask me his real name) if it would be nothing but tourists at Wayne's, and he told me that would most certainly be the case.
Being my usual, stubborn self, I blew off that idea and suggested to my friends that we go to another spot in downtown Nice. I thought I wanted the real experience, but that was until I found out that the nightlife of the locals isn't really very active at all. Reluctantly, there was no avoiding Wayne's. When we got there, I saw exactly why that was the place to be. That was the experience I was seeking. There has only been a small handful of bars where I have been and every single person is literally having blast. Wayne's made that list. There were no rules of conduct; it was a complete free-for-all. We went on a picture-taking rampage in an attempt to capture the action and vibe, and the picture I snagged of the super-wasted emo kid really says it all.
Our new friends were making their own new friends and soon it became one large web of stories to share and new people to meet. Kevin found a bunch of goofy, Scottish boys, I found a beer bottle that just said "Bud", and Julie found a guy who had the same hat style as her. When it was time to leave at Lord-only-knows what time it was, all we were focusing on was get to the light rail. It was too late; we had missed the last train by a mile. I don't know if it was the alcohol or the fact that the street signs weren't in English that kept us so lost. We literally had no idea where we were going. And then it happened.
While buying a late night pizza to munch on while we pondered our options, a young, well-dressed French guy started chatting with us in broken English. He offered to give us all a ride in his tiny, TINY car. I was about to throw out my beer when getting into the car, and he looked at me like I was crazy.
"What ze hell are you doing, eh? Zees ees Frahnnnnce, we do not worry about drinking while driving ze autos!" Hey, it was his car, and I just wanted to get home. In true French fashion, he gave us all kisses goodbye on both cheeks, and he gave me a little something extra.
Uncomfortable and feeling violated, I asked the guys as we walked back into the hostel, "Did he bite your ear, too?"