Parma 2000      Last Updated: 13-May-03

Since this trip was mostly about food, it was important to make sure that we stopped in all the right places. After flying over Slovenia, including a nice view of Lubljana, we headed over to Trieste, along the coast past Venice, and then inland across Northern Italy. Along the way we had outstanding views of the countryside and coastline. We could see the Italian beaches preparing for the influx of German tourists, with grids of beach chairs and umbrellas laid out on the sand.

Somewhere over Slovenia  Gardo  Rows of beach umbrellas and chairs  Venezia with Lido in the forground  This is your Captain 
The Italian air traffic control (from here referred to as the ATC) was a little challenging. First of all, there was a fair amount of traffic. Although the international ATC language is English, specific countries will have many locals speaking in the local language. This made it a little challenging to watch for traffic, since we couldn't understand some of what was in our area. In addition, Italy has many areas which are restricted, and some tight corridors as a result.

We needed to refuel, and, choosing between Bologna and Parma (two likely food-sounding towns), she had settled on Parma. We taxied to the brand-spanking new terminal, and went in to pay landing fees, check weather, and have lunch. We asked the paper pushers where to eat, and they said that we had to go across the airfield, near where we'd refuel. Downstairs, while paying, we noticed that there was a restaurant and snack bar in the terminal, so, confused, we asked again. The clerk said that we should go across the airfield. At least we had gotten consistent answers, but we were still uncertain.

Where is that darn restaurant? 

So, we taxied across the field, and went to the fuel station. With some waving, yelling, and other gestures, we finally figured out where we were to go, and, sure enough, there was a small restaurant at what looked to be the old terminal. There were quite a few old aviators around, drinking grappa and telling stories, so we sat down. One of the sisters who seemed to own the restaurant came over and told us that they would pay attention to us once they had finished eating lunch. The menu items sounded delicious, and, as we'd hoped, were heavy on Parmesan Cheese and Prosciutto. It was good that we were not in a hurry, but once the food arrived, it was so good.

Ristorante Aeroporto  Proscuitto and salad with Parmesan  Luscious! 

 

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Nice 2000     

Sated and satisfied, we took off for the West coast of Italy, with a plan to then head on to Nice and the Cote d'Azur. It was a hazy day, typical of the Mediterranean, and we were flying somewhat into the sun, making it hard to distinguish ground, sea, and the exact horizon. Suddenly, Roswitha noticed that several gauges were not working, including the attitude (level) indicator. She quickly determined that the vacuum pump which runs them had failed, and that it was not a dire emergency, although it could cause some problems. The biggest one was whether or not we were flying level, and because it was hard to determine the horizon (we were also in a sloping, mountainous region), the visual clues were questionable. JFK Jr. had gone down shortly before this, suspected to be due to a similar disorientation, so this was firmly in Roswitha's mind. Once she determined that we could make it safely to Nice, we relaxed a little and began to enjoy the flight. (At least Scott did.) The coast was beautiful, and we got a little smug as we flew over the traffic jams on the autoroute. We had great views of Portofino, Monaco, and other seaside towns. There was a fair amount of air traffic, including a large number of low-flying helicopters.

Portofino - I think  Buchon on the Autoroute - a Traffic Jam  Monte Carlo 

 

Nice is the second busiest airport in France, and it was a little hectic as we landed among the big planes. With some effort, we figured out where to park the mosquito. In most airports, the apron services come right over to see what you need, ferry you to the terminal, or whatever. Nothing was happening, and Roswitha could not even raise groud services on the radio. Eventually, we got attention, secured the plane, and made it into the terminal. Nice does not cater to small planes, so, with some effort, Roswitha found a mechanic further along the coast in Cannes who agreed to fix the plane the next day.

Landing at Nice...  ...and waiting for service 

 

We found a hotel in Nice, dumped our overnight bags, and took the train to Monte Carlo.

Is this our train? ...No? 

 

Dressed like Americans, we had a bit of a hard time. The maitre'd at the Hotel De Paris sneered at us, and, because we had no reservation, handily shooed us away. There was no question that we'd be refused entry into the Casino, since that requires black tie.. Next we tried the Hermitage, one of the finest hotels. They gave us that look, but agreed to seat us for dinner anyway, although it was inside at an out-of-the way table rather than out on the balcony. Once we were past that, we truly enjoyed the meal and the service.

A random street in Monte Carlo  Princess Grace's Chapel 

We were not dressed for the Casino  And the Café de Paris rejected us 

The Hermitage let us in, but did not put us at the best table...  ...but the food was excellent nonetheless 

 

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Cannes 2000     

The next morning, we planned to have breakfast on the sea in Nice, but we discovered that they were running a huge Ironman Triathlon. Not only could we not make it to the water, we could barely find a taxi or bus to the airport. Eventually, we made our way there, but it was quite a challenge. Roswitha filed the flight plan for Cannes (which made them laugh - it is only a 15 minute flight), and we took off. Cannes then turned out to be a very friendly airport for small planes; we should have flown there in the first place.

Croissant and café au lait 

We taxied over to the mechanic's hangar, but he was nowhere to be found. So, we called him, and he showed up shortly thereafter, complaining that we had not only dragged him out on a Sunday, but it was also Father's Day, and his children and grandchildren were at his house. Pierre was Belgian, and had lived in Cannes for about 15 years, and we discovered that he had quite a sense of humor. It seemed that he would rather be there with us and working on planes than stuck with the circus at home. Once the problem was described, he was certain of the problem, and quickly isolated the problem. The drive linkage on the vacuum pump had broken - it is designed to snap to protect the engine - and he had one in spare. It came from a Cessna that he had crashed on takeoff a few years earlier, with his wife and parents-in-law on board. He replaced it, put everything back together, and invited us back to his office to have a beer. He also suggested a small hotel just around the corner for us. We walked over to it, checked in, made dinner reservations ("Yes, casual is OK"), and took a taxi to Cannes and Antibes.

Oh, this looks bad...  Eet's not zo bad...I have zee part!  The broken part! 

Want to buy a Piper?  Our luxury hotel 

 

Antibes, and especially Cap d'Antibes, were both charming. The narrow winding roads through old buildings were picturesque. Cap d'Antibes has been an artists commune for a very long time, so it has elements all around. We discovered a Picasso museum which, unfortunately, was closed. We eventually also discovered our restaurant, Les Vieux Murs. Although they said that casual was OK, it seemed that they did not mean American casual. Still, they seated us right in the middle of the room, maybe so that all of the properly dressed clients could have something to scowl at and talk about. The meal, however, was amazing.

Cannes, playground of the rich and famous...  ...and bathing beauties 

Antibes  Antibes 

Picasso museum   

   

Les Vieux Murs 

Appetizer  Main  Dessert 

 

After that dinner, this breakfast 

For the plane, too 

 

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