The title of this entry translates to: “It’s not my concern,” or “that is not my problem”and it can be easy to feel that way if one lives, works and/or travels within a bubble….
Leaving a quiet hamlet in the Cotswolds to travel via Heathrow’s Terminal 5, to fly with British Airways towards Nice, with Marina Baie Des Anges as your final destination can certainly evoke that feeling of safety from the 90’s, if one is to ignore certain signs altogether.
My travel companions were two of my siblings this time around, which was very nice.
Our journey into the airport was seamless, moving around Heathrow was as well, and when we came out to our largely desolated gate we could hear beautifully spoken French and saw only what appeared to be locals and/or probably some expats here and there. It certainly looked like a very well dressed bunch, contrasting greatly with the usual suspects and diversity of characters one will see when travelling elsewhere. I received another reminder, by looking around, that a personal wardrobe update was much-needed….
The scenery reminiscent of the 90’s was only emphasised once we landed at Nice airport, which appeared to be completely unchanged. As we moved within the time capsule, making our way to the exit, memories were evoked of a past when travelling around in Europe felt safe, familiar and easy.
This bubble was burst the second we came into the Arrivals area as we bumped straight into heavily armed soldiers, patrolling the airport with a serious aspect. This was the only point during our journey when Europe’s current reality reared its ugly head. As we all gazed upon those who were armed to the bone I quickly asked my dad: “Are we in danger here? Has there been a threat?” I think we were all eager to get out of the airport as soon as we could. For a brief moment we were reminded of France’s “State Of Emergency,” Hollande’s total lack of control and France’s descent into total perdition. These thoughts crossed my mind but not for long as I was greeted by palm trees and sunshine once we’ve made our way out of the terminal….
A quick drive away from Nice, passing Cagnes-sur-Mer and we arrived at the “Marina Baie Des Anges.” A place I had seen countless times in the distance when we lived up in the hills, but a place I had never visited. Surrounded by yachts, and yuppie looking locals (to use a very American word) we raided the Marina supermarket for typical Mediterranean food, before we reached our final destination: Dad’s apartment. I had never been there before, so I was utterly shocked to see the location, not to mention the view!
The expat life-style at the Marina Baie Des Anges surely contrasted greatly with the reality of a family living up in the hills.
When we lived in France, as a family, the stress was never-ending. Due to the location of our home we depended on our car and it wouldn’t have been a far cry to suggest that my mother could might as well have moved into our vehicle. Life on the Riviera was stressful, a hassle.
I did well and liked living there, but for parent’s of a newborn baby, having to drive the older kids back and forth to school, having to take care of errands, dealing with a shady land lord and the difficulty of finding houses to rent long-term, not to mention the difficulty of getting anything done on the Riviera…. etc; Well…the situation was exhausting, especially due to countless relatives and friends visiting non-stop since they all wanted to come to France, especially when the accommodation and hospitality was for free…. This hotel-activity only added to the work load in an already chaotic existence, add to the picture how child-fiendly and unforgiving the school system can be to those who struggle with the language and/or fall behind and you certainly won’t have much of La Vie En Rose….
Living as a pensioner, without small children, in an apartment on the beach is a very different situation and can therefore not be seen as representative neither for the vast majority nor for those living a regular lifestyle.
My latest France-trip was altogether a very different experience and I can finally say that I actually enjoyed staying on the Côte d’azur for the very first time. I suspect that this had a lot to do with the nature of my travel and the location….far removed from the tragedy of Nice…one had the impression of “space” and peace, something that is almost unattainable on the modern-day Riviera. You literally have to find a little “pocket” far away from the over crowded beaches and tourists, which is easier said than done….
Life in Baie Des Anges appeared easy enough. Waking up to the wonderful weather, eating light Mediterranean food, abandoning devices and the never-ending torrent of horrible news, to “promenade” past the peaceful Marina, heading towards a small local coffee shop on the Beach.
Because this little restaurant is as close as it is to the Marina, you didn’t get the same amount of people as you would other places. The clientele seemed to be expats killing time and local Frenchs who were dressed as if though it was autumn or winter….
Properly equipped with wetsuits we went swimming, as one does, especially if Scandinavian….I will not claim that the water was particularly pleasant, but it felt good to swim and be active even though it left me exhausted every time.
….And so the rhythm works at the Marina…. You go about things as I described above, including a very long coffee break before and/or after you swim. You then go back to your flat to eat lunch on the terrasse, followed by a prolonged siesta…..whatever happens after that is up to chance, followed by a prolonged dinner and a good nights sleep. Things can certainly drag out…..as seems to be the norm the further south one goes….
Not being particularly keen on neither siestas or taking things easy, I was trying to experience as much as possible. Whether it was walking for two hours on the promenade with my brother, or chasing everyone out to partake in a collective bicycle trip, or hiking in the mountains! The most enjoyable activities on the Côte D’Azur are those that cost little to no money and take place in little “pockets” in a considerable distance to Nice or any other densely populated area. Whether you are eating like a Frenchman (which is worth the cost) in the hills or reading Nice Matin on the beach, you want to avoid any place that is too “accessible” such as “Galeries Lafayette.”
As I mentioned above, it is easy to forget about France’s “State Of Emergency” and I was therefore really surprised when my mother mentioned during one of our evening talks that there had been a terrorist attack in Paris!
Since I had officially taken a “holiday” from my phone I was utterly ignorant of the matter. I then decided to bring my phone with me as a “security measure” in case of an emergency, which seemed almost comical while hanging around in the bubble of “Baie Des Anges.”
Reality burst the bubble once again though when I was stopped by a security guy over at Galeries Lafayette who refused to let me into the building without going through my bag first. The fact that the guy stood there all by himself didn’t exactly make us feel any safer, so we moved around the shopping mall, vigilant and cautious, as the place was overcrowded. It was also significantly more diverse than other places with a plethora of traditionally dressed Muslims. It is easy to see why such a place would be an ideal target for Boogeymen looking to inflict as much damage as possible…not that it would be easy to pick them out from the crowd….the air quality inside the mall was poor as well, so it felt good to get out of there as quickly as possible…there are other shopping opportunities around the Riviera….
Reading about terrorism and the increased threat in the local newspaper “Nice Matin” day after day, seemed surreal. One can easily throw both hands up in the air while exclaiming “what Islamist problem!?” if not exposed to the real world or if paying no attention to alterations in the current European environment, subtle, but still noticeable if one remembers….
The greatest curse of humanity is its short-term memory….I’m sure….
After explaining how one can come to the Riviera and leave again in good faith, believing that the panic of the right is greatly exaggerated; it was then suggested that maybe it would be a good idea to go into Nice….The idea of public transportation was quickly rejected, as there is certainly no need to expose oneself to unnecessary danger, the idea of going into lost territories where one can no longer see a single Frenchman was rejected equally quickly, but we decided to drive through Nice, which is probably the best thing to do….when we did we were reminded once again of the “current France” as we drove past heavily armed military men, patrolling Promenade Des Anglais….
We drove along the Mediterranean, looking at the Villas, the boats and the view, driving through Monaco, where I witnessed the most ridiculous spectacle ever: car chasers. At first I thought that there was a huge celebrity behind us, after driving into the onslaught of big lenses and manic looking people. But I realised while we drove around in the tiny Principality that no; these were “car stalkers” wide-eyed and mad looking, throwing themselves after any fancy looking car….with their oversized lenses or cellphones… Of all things…..
My stay in France was “lugnt” but the ghost of a France in shambles was lurking in the background, albeit discreetly. Posters were on display everywhere of the various candidates for the French presidency and the papers were writing about increased, heightened security at any voting station….bringing to mind the state of affairs in other countries, in far away places, where voting can be a lethal affair…..
In addition I couldn’t help but notice how the region could benefit from an infrastructure update, just like its other western counterparts, such as the USA. The west in general gives off an air of being “passé,” let’s cross our fingers that this can be changed….with the right anti-globalist, pro-western leadership…
“Wouldn’t it be nice” I mused; “to own a boat and escape away from it all, soaking up the sun in the middle of the Mediterranean in peace?” Only to realise the moment that these words had left my mouth,that you can might as well run into bandits as you lounge on your yacht. For all I know you might run into a rowboat with Migrants who’ve kindly thrown Christians over board, as Muslims aren’t too keen on sharing a boat ride with infidels….There are few places where one can truly “hide.”
“Experts” lament the tragedy of divisive leaders, utterly ignorant of a divide that already existed, as a result of previous leadership’s fiascos and idealistic self-destructive ideologies. These things along with all other problems faced by Europeans are easy to forget if one strive to deliberately remain ignorant. By self-segregating in a pleasant bubble while avoiding any news and online activity, one can delude oneself into thinking that there are no issues. The bubble is increasingly shrinking though and can be blasted into pieces at any given moment if you are unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time….
I predict that gated communities will become increasingly common and that personal security levels might reach those often portrayed among whites in South-Africa…
Heading back home after a wonderful week of peace and quiet, a reminder of the current state of affairs resonated once again when a Muslim-looking-man right in front of us was denied entry by the passport controller…. Reality reared its ugly head too when the British Airways flight captain included this during his announcement: ” I just want to add, that regardless of your religious believes and where you come from you are always welcome into the UK” … great I thought to myself … another one completely ignorant of the fact that we do have enemies … sure it’s nice to be welcoming … but you cannot be welcoming to all….especially not towards those who want to kill you.
After a flight that was notably less glamorous than the previous one, thanks to a family behind us with a baby crying all the way, accompanied by parents who were complaining about the baby to the baby….not to mention the fact that said baby threw his pacifier hitting my head…..we finally landed…..
As our journey came to an end I couldn’t help but notice that none of the people working at Heathrow were British, besides the Border Control Agent….contemplating gradual, deliberate, demographic displacement and replacement, I thought to myself how strange it must seem to those visiting Britain for the very first time, to not see any Englishmen employed anywhere as they land and set foot in England. These thoughts though abandoned me once again as I headed out into the countryside, where remnants of genuine English culture still lives, while it gradually fades away everywhere else, especially in urban areas….
One can easily say: “Ce n’est Pas Mon Problèm,” but for how long will it remain so?