Cycling Europe Day 25: A Sob In My Belly

I have a sob in my belly that is trying to burst out.

Morning tea in Nice.

Morning tea in Nice.

I think I have experienced pure sensory overload today. I had to come back to my hotel earlier than I had planned because I was feeling too overwhelmed. I felt as if I was on the verge of a sensory meltdown.

I don’t even know where to start to explain it.

I was in Cannes yesterday. I had a wonderful spaghetti and meatball lunch while sitting on the corniche. I walked all over the city on a beautiful spring day. This morning I got on my bike and very lazily cycled off to my next destination. The whole route today was along the Mediterranean coast. I had a relatively short day today – around 50 km – so I was in no rush. I just cycled, looked at the water, marveled at the surrounding mountains, and enjoyed the day. I stopped in Nice for some tea. Actually, I really really had to pee and the whole area was full of people and buildings so I could only pee at a restaurant. I had Earl Grey tea while sitting on the corniche in Nice. Who does that?

My husband had warned me that to get to Monaco, I would have to climb a steep

This is where I want to spend the rest of my life.

This is where I want to spend the rest of my life.

mountain. I wanted to make sure I was taking the right route to Monaco. I stopped on older man on a bicycle. “Yes, yes,” he said. “You just continue straight. As long as you see the sea you will know you are in the right direction. But there is a big mountain to climb! Perhaps you should take the train?” I smiled and told him I wanted to go by bike. I thanked him and set off. To be sure, I asked two cyclists a short time later if this was the route to Monaco. “Yes,” one of them said. “But you will have to climb a mountain!” This repeated talk of mountains put fear in my heart. How bad must this mountain be? I wondered.

The road climbed marginally and I found myself looking down on the town I want to spend the rest of my life in. Villefranche-sur-Mer mesmerized me. The waters were turquoise blue, the town serene, the mountains hovered above it.

I kept waiting for the mountain. Because it was taking so long to appear I began worrying that I had longer to cycle than

Parked in Monte Carlo

Parked in Monte Carlo

I expected. And then – quite suddenly – I found myself in Monte Carlo. Everyone who had warned me about a mountain obviously did not have a clue about the places I have had to cycle up. Not a clue. Whatever that was, it barely registers to me as a hill.

My first impression of Monte Carlo was, “What the heck is this ridiculous amount of construction?? These guys must be loaded!” It reminded me of the construction continuously going on in some of the Arab Gulf countries.

I cycled around, trying to get my bearings of the town. And then I stumbled into some old cars. And more old cars. Tomorrow, Monte Carlo hosts the Grand Prix Historique. Row after row of cars stood just beside the marina. These cars took part in Grand Prixs of yesteryear; some as early as the 1920s. Now, I am in no way a car person. I’ve never ever cared about them. I get sick to my stomach when I hear people obsess over them. But THIS…this excited me to no end. Oh, how I wish my sons were with me today. They would have been jumping up and down. There was so much history and so much exquisite beauty in that one small part of Monte Carlo. I wanted to cry.

I spent the afternoon strolling in Monte Carlo’s old city, looking down on bays, marinas, and over mountains. It is such a sight. Such a sight. I also marveled at the lavish lifestyles of some people in this area: the homes, the cars, the clothes… I have never ever aspired to have so much in this life. But it tickled and excited me to be able to watch it.

This is a beautiful part of the world. There is no doubt. And I am so fortunate to have passed through it. So fortunate. Alhamdulillah alhamdulillah alhamdulillah (all thanks be to Allah).

One comment

  1. Hi Nadia! I am loving taking this journey with you. I look for your email every day to see how you are doing and praying that nothing has happened to make you stop. I hope you realize that it’s ok to give into that overwhelming feeling to sob; healthy even. Sometimes it’s when you see all the beauty of things after working your ass off that you feel the sudden release. Just cry and don’t even try and think about why you are crying. Just feel. I believe it’s those times, among many others that you are connected to your authentic self as well as feeling connected to and the touch of Allah. I feel he is inspiring me through you so don’t over think it.

    I am also in my forties and you are doing something I would do if I could. As of right now I am overcoming partial paralysis that hit me five years ago from a cancerous tumor on my spine. “They” said I would never really walk again. I said fuck that. I have a life to live! So here I am now walking and barely needing a cane. 🙂 I hope to one day be able to take another adventure but this time do it on a bike like you. Or hike and camp through the mountains.

    I don’t know which direction you are headed or how far you plan to go, but just know you are not alone. I’m rooting for you!


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