Cannes. Quarantine diary. Second day

On Wednesday, July 30, I talked about how we broke through the clouds of the pandemic and landed safely at the Côte d’Azur airport in Nice. Our ultimate goal is the Cannes International Festival.

Having passed all four points of an almost three-hour test procedure and filling out forms with an oath promise not to leave the quarantine asylum anywhere, except from 10 to 12 (those who are hungry for details can get here in abundance), we waited for a bus for some time that would take us to the equally empty terminal of arrival No. 2. There, in echoing silence, our luggage, which had arrived from Moscow, was spinning on the tape under the “Bucharest” scoreboard for these three hours. Naturally, people first of all rushed to the toilets, which in Terminal 1 – I will conditionally call it procedural quarantine – did not work. And then, having dismantled the suitcases, they instantly disappeared into space.

Usually, when leaving through the green corridor into the free air, the crowd of those who arrived were greeted by a crowd of greeters with outlandish names on hand-made tablets – this time there was no one. Obviously, no one met me either: I could not order a taxi kiwi, as usual, in advance, because who knows when they would let me into beautiful France.

At the entrance there were bored taxis in single file, to them I and headed off. At the sight of a now rare sight – a man with a suitcase and a resolute look – the taxi drivers perked up, kindly opened in front of me a kind of turnstile with a sign prohibiting entry, and I crashed into the first car, asking only how much would this happiness cost? The taxi driver said eighty. Then, shaking his head in the manner of a pondering de Funes, he added: well, ninety. This is about a third more than they would take for a pre-ordered kiwi, but ce la vie, especially since a la ger com a la ger.

So, Ostap got under way, gentlemen of the jury. A marvelous tram train, which never happened here before, swam into the window of the limousine. In response to my astonished exclamation, the taxi driver explained that a year and a half ago they started a tram from the airport to the center of Nice – life in France, it turns out, continued into a pandemic as usual: people loved, dreamed, built, started trams, etc.

Having twisted along the airport serpentine, we finally took off onto the highway, and the driver reached the speed of 140, sometimes, seeing the “110” sign, dropping it to this obscene turtle. Green plush hills were spread around, the sea was turquoise on the left, something incredibly bottomless shone from above, and it suddenly became completely clear that no PCR tests, questionnaires and vows not to breathe fresh air stood absolutely nothing in front of this sparkling beauty, still beautiful France.

Next was a hotel called Novotel. At the front desk stood a man who looked like De Funes’ constant partner, the sullen actor Jacques Dinam. While Jacques Dinam was making a copy of my passport and preparing an electronic room key, I was anxiously looking with my eyes for the signboard of the 24-hour restaurant promised by Booking with the promising name of La Boutique Gourmande, where I was supposed to have a meal, or at least take meals to the room. I was already anticipating how I would go now and eat my favorite fish soup de poison with crispy toasts and such a special mustard sprinkled with grated cheese – and this will be my lunch, how much does a person need in quarantine! And suddenly – what the hell is not kidding – there will even be an assortment of sea reptiles such as shrimp with broths and oysters!

Not finding either the sign or the entrance itself, I got a little worried and asked – where is your 24-hour restaurant? Jacques Dinam raised the gaze of a serial phlegmatic at me and shook his head: there is no restaurant, but this luxury is there – and pointed to the fridge, where behind the glass there were cups with frozen brew. And I realized that this refrigerator, coupled with the microwave, also promised by Booking, is my 24-hour gourmet restaurant.

Dejected by this very circumstance (the unsuccessfully located Novotel was chosen solely because of the restaurant where you can eat without violating the quarantine), I went up in the only elevator here to the eighth floor. The room was not spacious in French – I thought: it’s already good, I will run here and there – to train. The windows looked battered down forever, like submarine hatches. A microwave and a refrigerator were available, but there were no dishes, cutlery, napkins and other devices for civilized food consumption. There was a teapot with a coffee maker, and a set of teas and coffees, but no glasses, except for two paper ones. There was a bathtub in the bathroom, but apparently you need to fill it with a shower, because there was no tap. There were no curtains at the bath either, and I was already anticipating how the flooded neighbors would knock from below in different languages. There was also a cramped shower stall, but with big beautiful holes in the glass doors, so they would knock anyway.

But the room had as many as three sinks with taps and towels: in the bathroom, in the toilet located at the other end of the room, and in the compartment with a kettle. The main sink – in the bathroom – was equipped with a plastic bottle of the washstand type, from which liquid soap had to be milked; no other cosmetic accessories were available in this four star hotel. To be honest, I would gladly exchange two extra shells for mugs for tea and glasses, from which drinking wine in confinement would be much more poetic. But in time I remembered the Count of Monte Cristo and realized that I was still lucky.

With all the spaciousness of the room, the clothes had to be hung in a narrow slot, where 5-6 hangers fit. There were no shelves or drawers at all, in the only cabinet one shelf was occupied by a safe, the other by a set of spare blankets, because in addition to a double bed there was also a couch, and in principle the room could accommodate three. Although where they will put their little things and where they will hang their clothes, I have no idea. On the safe there was a request not to leave valuables in it, because there are places in the hotel that are much safer. This was also encouraging: there are no limits to perfection, as Napoleon said, consoled in his island of Elba.

In front of the double bed on spread legs with wheels, a large smart TV was piled up, broadcasting on all channels either bad movies, like on any TVs, or loud talk shows, like everywhere else, or, imagine, French chanson, and more survived under the onslaught of oriental ornate melodies brought in large numbers. Even one English-language channel like Euronews was admitted to this television Olympus, but, to my amazement, there was not a single Chinese one.

I have to spend seven days here, then I will move to the Best Western provided by the festival, I will spend there in quarantine for another three days, and only then I will rush into the stream of international film production – I will do what I flew for. Except, of course, oysters, which he began to covet in absentia in early childhood, after reading the story of the same name by Chekhov.

In anticipation of all this, I did not unpack my suitcase, and only put a few T-shirts on various planes that dot the walls of the room, which made it look like a gym locker room.

However, I had to eat something – before morning breakfast on the lamb eaten on the plane, I can hardly last. I also didn’t want to die of thirst, like the heroes of The White Sun of the Desert. And I went to the first crime: in spite of the fact that the time from 10 to 12 had passed long ago (at these hours I was just consuming transcendental mutton), I left the hotel for food.

I walked towards the sea, squinting my eyes in search of a policeman and cringing slightly – it seemed that this way I took up less space in space and did not immediately catch the policeman’s eyes. There, closer to the sea, life was in full swing, they gave sausages in cafes and there were supermarkets with Italian water San Pellegrino. Going down a steep slope to the “Monopri” store and sadly noting that he would have to climb back, he bought bread there that had strongly emphasized by the evening (not the chic Moscow “EuroSPAR”, you know!), Water, wine to get away from the blows of fate, cheese to it and a couple of frozen ready-made dishes for the microwave – something like a duck in potatoes and a pig in caramel. France. The police will only call tomorrow, but more about that next time.