Monday, July 14, 2014

Eleven years ago Jinny and I hiked the Nietzsche Trail, dressed more nicely than anyone else

    Today is Bastille Day, and what better time to share the story of Jinny and me traveling down the Nietzsche Trail from Eze, France to the coastline.
    We hadn’t planned to walk the Nietzsche Trail. We had planned to eat at a really nice restaurant, but those plans were dashed.
    We were in Eze as part of a 12-day Mediterranean cruise with a port call in Monte Carlo. Monte Carlo is a pretty worthless port call in my view, since you can’t visit the casinos in the day time. But I had read in one of the travel magazines about a great deal to be had in Eze, a short cab ride from Monte Carlo.
    I had read that the famous Chateau de la Chevre D'Or restaurant in Eze, which has two Michelin stars, offered a fixe prix lunch for about 65 euros. Dinner for two at this restaurant can cost as much as $1,000, so a 65-euro lunch was not unreasonable (at the time the euro and dollar were at par). It was hailed as one of the greatest travel bargains in all the world.
    We stepped off of our cruise ship on July 14, 2003. I don’t know the exact temperature, but this was in the middle of the biggest heat wave that Europe had experienced since 1540. It was hot. Seventy thousand Europeans died from the heat in 2003, including 15,000 Frenchmen. I was wearing a blue blazer, tie, and khakis. Jinny was wearing a dress and heels. We wanted to look sharp for our fancy meal, for which we had reserved in advance.
    We arrived in Eze and then at the restaurant, which sits atop the highest hill in Eze like a castle. Jinny decided to read and menu and confirmed that the 65-euro lunch was indeed on offer. It was. Underneath it said, “Except on Festival Days.”
    “You know what today is, don’t you?” Jinny asked. I didn’t. “It’s Bastille Day.” A "festival" day. An a la carte lunch, if we ordered carefully, would have cost us $500. We declined, although we did pay $10 each for a drink at a bar with the finest view we’ve ever enjoyed.
    I had heard about the Nietzsche Trail which went from Eze, high on a hill, down to the French coastline. I suggested we walk down, find a place for lunch and a drink, and catch a train back to Monte Carlo.
    We found the entrance to the Nietzsche Trail. Among my grandmother, Mom Hurdle’s effects was a church bulletin where she had taken a single note from the pastor’s sermon: “Wide and broad is the path to destruction.” Such is the Nietzsche Trail.
    The entrance to the Nietzsche Trail in Eze is well-marked, and there are nice, neat little steps leading downwards to a paved path. This paved path continues for about 100 yards. There is then a bit of deterioration; and then more deterioration. The further down we went, the worse the trail got; but to go back meant a hard trek uphill. The trail deteriorated to just rocks, to the point where we honestly could barely walk, and feared falling off the mountain.
    We should have known something was up when various hikers gave strange looks to this couple dressed for a dinner party stumbling down a path more suited for billy goats. We survived, but for a while we thought we might join the 70,000-plus death toll.
    Jinny has not stopped thanking me for our wonderful lunch to this day.

    Below is a video that someone took of their jog down the Nietzsche Trail, just to give an idea of what it is like.

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