After three days in Cannes I’m en route to Austria. For those not following my life meticulously, that means since departing the States two short weeks ago, I went from Spain to France to Spain to France and now Germany and Austria. Impressive for 14 days.
In greater detail, I arrived “home” to Girona to acclimatize to the time zone and such before racing the Route du Sud just a few hours’ drive north into France. Driving to a race is something I haven’t done more than about twice ever in my European career. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even done it that many times. Novel. After R.d.S., it was back to Girona for a full twelve hour layover where I helped a friend move every single one of his belongings from his apartment into a storage unit across town. No small task and now four days later, my arms are still smoked! Much like driving to bike races, I don’t frequently lift heavy boxes for a full day. I deserve a medal of honor for that endeavor. (Juuuuust kidding. Honestly I was happy to do it. Truly just wish I had more time to pull it all off, because…) Next I jumped directly into a taxi, ripped down to Barcelona, and was off to Cannes.
Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Cannes Lions. And if not, Google it and maybe add the word “Festival” at the end. I certainly had never heard of it until I touched down on Monday evening. I describe it to inquisitive family and friends like Interbike but for (m)ad men and therefore multiply $100,000,000X more than cycling. That’s probably only a 0.01% exaggeration if at all. This place is baller.
Now after three days of having fun with these ad folks — the smart ones are cyclists of course, so I went on some bike rides with these dudes and lady-dudes — I’m departing for Austria for another event.
Normally that process is as easy as getting on an airplane and flying to a new country, right? Nay, my friends. If only European living were so simple.
As I made my airport taxi reservation last night at my hotel’s front desk I was warned that all of French taxi drivers are on strike today. For a little geographical perspective, my hotel in Cannes is roughly 40 minutes by taxi to the Nice airport. My hotel is not near, well, anything — it’s not near train stations nor bus stations nor any other method of travel that would get me from the hotel to the airport. So at this point in the conversation I’m mostly perplexed with a tiny hint of ire. The cheeky hotel staff lady chuckled, thought for a moment, and in a lightbulb-over-head moment excitedly exclaimed, “You could take the train! Although… no, you need to get a ride to the train station and that requires a taxi. Oh wait, the train is on strike too.” Words at this point failed me.
Later that night they came back to me, so after talking to about a dozen people throughout the evening with whom I’ve been hanging out this week, these fine folks somehow managed to eek a reservation into a hired private black car service. I thankfully made a good impression over these past three days and snuck a spot in the back of a super baller Mercedez with one of the women with whom I’ve been been working this week. Still easier said than done because for one I had a bicycle in my lap in this super baller back seat. And two, upon stepping into the Benz we were warned, “The typical 40 minute drive could take 3-4 hours. The taxi drivers are blocking the airport. I’m sorry.”
Now try Googling “Nice airport taxi strike”. Thank goodness our driver has the maneuvering dexterity of James Bond in a sweet downtown escape scene. The drive took closer to just an hour which is good because the bike bag sitting on lap wasn’t all that comfortable. And the lovely woman in the car with me wouldn’t have made her flight had it required four hours. Phew. Well, mostly phew. At this point we are getting near the airport. It’s all relative from here and there’s still quite a ways to go.
Sure enough, we got to Nice and everything near the airport is a complete cluster. Picture those images of downtown third world cities you might see in National Geographic where there are no lanes, there’s no rhyme or reason to how vehicles make their way around — if they move at all. We snuck our way as close to the airport as possible in the car, which is effectively a parked four-lane highway. There are people milling about with bikes and scooters, taxis, angry taxi drivers, parked taxi drivers, protesting taxi drivers, also errant chickens and people pushing those airport luggage dollies. Time to get out and hike!
I have a bicycle, a two suitcases, and a carry-on. Playing frogger is easy when you’re alone. Playing frogger with all this crap in tow is the opposite of fun. Not to mention doing this amid a throng of people arriving to Nice with their bikes for this weekend’s Nice Ironman Triathlon, plus some of the 20,000 people departing the Cannes Lions Fest. Additionally there are tons of general tourists coming to the French Riviera for their summer holiday. Weather report: it 85 muggy degrees and the sun is baking. Suffice it to say, temperatures were rising about as rapidly as patience was running low. A tiny part of me wanted to stamp my feet, clap my hands, and shout “Go back to work!”
But that would get me nowhere.
Life’s an adventure, so I decided to just take it all in. Once navigating this comical mess, I made it into the airport and I’ve found a nice seat from which to observe people. All the people. Many of whom are absolutely soaked in sweat — like truly drenched — from lugging their luggage and their merry selves down the highway.
Given that I was otherwise up a creek regarding rides to the airport just hours before, I obviously took whatever means of transport I could muster; namely, this aforementioned super baller Mercedes. So given that it took just one hour, plus a little buffer of highway frogger, I arrived a mere seven hours before take off. The early bird gets the… umm, flight.
As I type this, I still have five hours ’til I fly. May as well make the most of it and observe. Or just write a blog.
Oh, the 200 On 100 is July 2. You want in? See you in VT on the Canadian border. #200on100