Being stationed in the military in Europe definitely has its perks. This one happened to be a double edged sword. On one hand I realized I was headed to France to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Allied Forces liberating France during WWII (also referred to as 70th anniversary of the Landing in Provence Revue navale 70 ans du débarquement de Provence), but on the other hand they were sending me back underway after only 5 months of leaving my last Sea Duty Command.
Alright, I won’t complain and wine over it, I am a SWO (someone who is mostly stationed on ships during their career) after all. So how did I end up on this trip? Well you may or may not have heard of the USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20) which happens to be the flagship of 6th Fleet, which encompasses both Europe and Africa (excluding Egypt but that’s all schematics) and every so often we do a staff embark where personnel from 6th fleet (my current command) head on over to the USS Mount Whitney and get underway to perform some exercises.
This happened to be a week long ordeal in the middle of August and I happen to be the new kid on the block so of course my name showed up on the list of people being shipped out (get the pun here) haha. In the end I was pretty excited to attend events surrounding WWII and I never miss a chance to reminisce those who fought in WWII so I packed my bag and caught the bus out in the morning to head up to the ship in Gaeta, Italy.
Within 4 hours of being onboard (before we even got underway) I found out I was being put on a 24 hour round the clock watch, lucky me! with only 3 other people so I started off that first night right with watch from 0000-0800. Woo Hoo. That being said, the next few days were full of that watch and meetings, BUT we were headed to Theoule Sur Mer France for a liberty port. Can’t really complain about that!
Upon arrival the 2 other watch standers and myself worked out a schedule so that we would each get 2 days of liberty and that was the good news! Well Theoule Sur Mer happens to be a small town that’s pretty off the path for main tourism because of her neighboring city, Cannes. T
he number 1 attraction in Theoule Sur Mer according to Trip Advisor happens to be a beach. Its apparently very beautiful and a breathtaking site and for the most part its not overcrowded. The High End city of Cannes does a very good job of keeping tourists occupied, if you know what I mean. I also didn’t go there so I might not be correct, that’s just kind of what I was picking up when I was doing my research.
The Mount Whitney pulled into the main harbor and had liberty launch boats heading to shore so we got right down to business and my small group and I were the first 3 people to check out from 6th fleet to leave the ship. I pride myself in being a liberty fiend each and every time!
After stepping off the liberty launch and taking a look around the small port. We decided to head on over to Cannes and the hustle and the bustle of the city to get some good food and drinks. We walked to the train station about 10 minutes from where the liberty launch dropped us off and after waiting about a half hour for the train we jumped on board and were downtown within about 15 minutes.
What I noticed instantly was how high end everything here is. Wow. We walked out of the train station and I was about to cross the road and what goes blazing by? A sparkling Gray Farari. It’s all about show in this town. They have every high end shop, its right by the water, Gorgio Armani has their on cafe for goodness sakes! and there’s a permanent car show on the streets of Cannes.
What I definitely know is that every main hotel has a car garage, but your car only goes inside of it if its not high end and “normal”. The spots out front are reserved for all of the classy cars that literally are shipped from the middle east because most of these cars had Dubai license plates.
We found a great seafood restaurant and what was the first thought on our minds? Escargot. It was a must try and here in France, I expected nothing less. Which is why we ordered ourselves a steaming hot plate of 12 pieces of escargot. And we devoured it all as graciously as possible. Where has escargot been all my life?! So good.
After a delicious seafood dinner we were on the road in search of a good pub to have some drinks and ended up at none other than an irish bar. Live music, Kilkenny’s, and a group of sailors, well that’s just a good evening right there. Also, did you know that “The” Film Festival is held every spring in Cannes France? For one reason or another I didn’t realize that this was “That” place, so I thought that was pretty cool. We walked down by the actual area they hold the festival and they have the hollywood stars and all that jazz in the sidewalks. Its pretty cool, actually.
After a couple of hours of partying we ended up doing a deal at one of the biggest hotels for the hotel manager to give us a ride back in their van. Don’t ask me how that all worked out one of the civilians that works for sixth fleet did all of the dealings with that.
We got back to Theoule Sur Mer just in time for a few drinks on the dock before catching the last liberty launch of the night back to the boat (Like I said, I definitely like to maximize on liberty). haha.
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