If you follow me on social media or are my friend on Facebook, you may already know that I spent this past weekend in France and Monaco for my 23rd birthday! I had been looking forward to this trip for weeks and it did not disappoint. Two of my sweet friends, Zoe and Nicole, joined me, and we had the best time soaking up the sun on the beach, shopping way more than we should have, given our already full carry-on luggage, and laughing hilariously at our endless new inside jokes. I am so grateful for their friendship and feel that even more strongly after this weekend.
Nicole and I left a freezing cold Basel on Thursday morning for Nice, where it was a beautiful 75° and sunny, and we immediately went to change into our bathing suits to go to the beach! We chose a flat about seven minutes of a walk from the water, and the location could not have been more perfect. First we stopped at a Monoprix, the little grocery store around the corner from our AirBnB, to grab some snacks and drinks for lunch. When Nicole and I saw the water, we both got SO excited! The beach here is all rocks, which is a vast contrast to the white sand I am used to! We got all situated with our towels, spending some extra time moving rocks around to find our ‘spot’ to get comfortable. We made some ham sandwiches and drank prosecco out of the bottle, laughing and chatting for hours until the sun started to dip down a bit. Then we aimlessly wandered through different shops on the main street before heading back to the AirBnB, where we made some pasta and talked so much we lost track of the time. Good intentions to head out for the evening were quickly replaced with a bottle of Rose and comfy pajamas, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The next morning, Nicole and I ate some chocolate croissants for breakfast before heading to the beach for an hour or two while we waited for Zoe’s plane to arrive! The three of us were really happy to be together. We have a group chat loving named “Basel Babes”, and I got a bit carried away chanting “the Basel Babes are back in business!!” when we met up with Zoe, which I am sure got annoying quickly. Oops. The three of us went to a cute little Italian restaurant for a late lunch before going back to the beach. We took all kinds of pictures and Polaroids, and I am so thankful for the technology to have physical memories of my time with these girls!
Thanks to our late lunch, we weren’t too hungry for dinner, so we made plans to get crepes instead! Again, we had more intentions to go out. There was a little nightclub right across the street from our AirBnB, so we decided that we had to check it out! “Going out” is new to me, so I was surprised to find that the little club didn’t even open until 11:30pm! Apparently that is normal, and even early, for European standards. To kill time, we walked around the Promenade des Anglais, hung out in the AirBnB, and took showers to get ready for the evening. By the time we actually went to leave, Nicole was almost asleep! Zoe and I were starving for our crepe that we had been looking forward to all day, so we left to go get those. We planned to also stop at the club, but after eating, felt the exhaustion hit. Granted it was 1:30 in the morning, so we justified our tiredness and went back to go to sleep.
Saturday was was a bit cloudier than the two days prior (which had been absolutely GLORIOUS beach days), so we decided to spend the day sightseeing and walking around the town. First on the list was Castle Hill, an overlook that I had seen beautiful pictures of online. On our way there, we stumbled upon a quaint and cozy green market, complete with flowers and food and souvenirs alike. After a few purchases, we continued the rest of the way to Castle Hill. It was just as beautiful as the Google search showed, with 180° panoramic view of the coastline. Of course, we also had to take the classic tourist picture with the “I Love Nice” sign, too! We stopped for lunch at an American Bar, go figure, and enjoyed surprisingly good food! The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around Nice, popping into random stores to try on fancy dresses that we didn’t need, and searching for cute bathing suits. That was my personal shopping mission, that unfortunately was not successful. After a bit, we headed back to the AirBnB to get ready for our special evening!
I had made reservations a few weeks ago for this beautiful restaurant right on the water in Monte Carlo, Monaco! We traveled by train (barely making it, might I add) only 30 minutes to a new country, and then walked and tried to soak it all in. After a few minutes of walking, we actually were soaking it all in, since it started to rain on us! Thankfully we weren’t far from the restaurant, where we sat on a covered part of the terrace and enjoyed a delicious watermelon champagne, the special of the evening. I was so bummed that the weather had turned so sour, since I had made a special request to sit on the terrace, but our seat right on the window inside was almost better! We all got a glass of wine and some of the best food I’ve had in a while, enjoying the ambiance of the restaurant and the company. For dessert, we shared an XXL tiramisu, which was brought out with flaming sparklers for my birthday! I was not expecting it, but Zoe was and had her camera ready, which makes it even better to look back on.
After dinner we walked over to the Casino de Monte Carlo. It was just as grand on the exterior as it was on the inside, and I couldn’t help but walk around and do circles looking up at the decor and intricate design on the ceilings! We paid our entrance fee, which included 10 euro back as playing credit, and went inside. Personally I am not a big gambler, so I spent my 10 euro on a slot machine and cashed out with a whopping $0.13, but Zoe actually decided to play some Roulette and doubled what she initially played with! The Casino was such a fun experience, and it was a great way to end a few hours in Monte Carlo.
We took the train back to Nice and while walking in the rain back to the flat, I got a FaceTime call from KJ singing me happy birthday. That boy is on top of things, let me tell ya! It was exactly 12:00am on the dot in France, making it officially my birthday. Zoe and Nicole sang to me, as well, and once back at the flat, we hung out for a few more hours until we were too tired to keep our eyes open.
Sunday started off incredibly rainy, but we weren’t going to let it put a damper on my birthday! Nicole found us a fantastic breakfast place to go to, and while there, we prayed for our food and for the weather, asking Jesus for some sun. By the time we left the restaurant, it had stopped raining completely and little flecks of sunlight were shining through the clouds! We walked around Nice a bit longer, did some more shopping, and then headed back to the flat to clean up for check out. We found a cute little cafe next to the tram station and spent a bit of time there before heading to the airport to fly home.
The weather in Nice was supposed to be far worse than the weather in Basel, so we were shocked to find it pouring rain when we landed in Switerland at 10:45pm. Zoe had driven to the airport and parked a ways away, so the three of us trudged through the rain to the car, laughing hysterically. Nicole’s rain jacket is only water ‘resistant’, so she was soaked. Zoe had an umbrella that she graciously shared with me, since I had left my umbrella at home in Basel. However, there was very little need for the umbrella, as the wind was so strong it was blowing the rain sideways and flipped the umbrella inside out! We were laughing so hard we could hardly walk straight, and all three of us got into Zoe’s car literally dripping wet, but with huge smiles on our faces. She drove me back to my house and we listened to every birthday song we could think of to finish off the last 30 minutes of the day.
Even now, writing this and reflecting on the weekend, I am filled with SO much gratitude! God put these two sweet girls into my life and has allowed me to make so many wonderful memories with them already, even in the short time we have known each other. I couldn’t have imagined spending my birthday any other way, and I am so thankful that they took the time to be with me and make me feel celebrated and loved when my family is so far away.
Speaking of my family, I was surprised Monday morning with a letter from Gracie and a package from my mom, that included cards and gifts from grandparents and my aunt and uncle! Even from the states, thousands of miles away, I could feel how much they loved me and were thinking of me. I am truly blessed with amazing people to do this life with. It made me miss my family a bit more, but also made me even more excited to squeeze them up in big hugs when I am home.
This weekend was such a blast, and if that is any indication of how this new year is going to be, I am very, very excited for 23.