monte carlo

Cycling Europe Days 26 & 27: Italia! My Beebol!

Fatwa #397 issued by Sheikha Nadia El-Awady: Married women are not to travel unaccompanied by their husbands in Italy. Italian men are too handsome and their smiles too charming. Single women, on the other hand, should get their butts over to Italy PRONTO. 

Yesterday was a very happy day for me.

The day before, shortly after I published my last blog post, I went out for another walk

Really, Monaco?

Really, Monaco?

around Monte Carlo. My afternoon walk made me feel very overwhelmed with the beauty of it all. My evening walk made me feel very uncomfortable with the excessive opulence I was witnessing. There were escalators and elevators to take people from one level of the city to the next. You heard me. The most expensive cars roamed the streets. I walked to the casino. The cars standing in front of it! The people going into it! I watched people sitting on their extravagant yachts sipping champagne. It was the stuff of movies. And it wasn’t for me. I needed out.

I left early the next day and had another wonderful and peaceful cycle along the



Mediterranean. It wasn’t long before I saw it: the sign that indicated I was crossing into Italy. “Oh white day!” I said out loud in Arabic. It sounds silly in English. آنهار أبيض is what I said and kept repeating with a very silly throaty laugh. I then started getting carried away with myself. One of my many personalities started saying, “Who woulda thought? Me, Nadia El-Awady, from the fallaheen in rural Egypt, cycled from Portugal to Italy!” And then one of my other personalities interrupted, “You’re not from rural Egypt! That was your father! YOU were born and raised in the US until the age of 15!” “Oh yeah,” the other one said. “Still. Nadia El-Awady, daughter of Abbas El-Awady who WAS from the fallaheen, cycled from Portugal to Italy!

It was Italy! I was home! The Italians! My beebol (people in Egyptian English)! My most favorite beebol among all beebols. This was something I already knew about Italians. I have been to Italy many times. I know the Italians. I understand them with their loud voices, their belly laughs, their expressive gestures, their hot tempers. They are people who leave nothing on the inside. It’s all out there. And I get that. I relate to that. I understand that.

And the Italians made sure to leave no room for doubt that they were mine and I was theirs. (more…)

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. (more…)