Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nice is Nice (see what I did there?)

Amazing antique shop in Nice
After my adventure in Turin/Torino (really, I'm not sure if it's polite or pretentious to call the city by it's Italian name... help?), I spent most of Spring Break being lazy. It's funny how normal/boring life can be here. Wake up early, go to work, grocery shop, head home to make dinner, do laundry and watch Game of Thrones, go to sleep, then do it all over again. Sometimes I get caught up in how overwhelming it all can be. Starting my career and adult life over 4,000 miles from home is stressful, and then throw in the fact that I don't speak the language and can't be completely independent with how much I rely on the school... I'm not going to lie, it's a challenge. But then, within a 3 or 4 hour drive, I can be laying on a stone-filled beach along the Mediterranean Sea. It's difficult to explain; much of the time life just feels normal, but then I really look at what's happening and feel like it's some amazing dream that I never want to wake up from.

Anyway, rambling took over my attempt to share my most recent trip. 

After Torino, as I said, I spent most of the week hanging around my apartment, but late in the week took a road trip to the French Riviera. Two friends and I rented a car and drove from Milan to Nice; even before arriving, the trip was amazing. Most of the drive was along the Blue Coast of the Mediterranean, and the view out the window was full of colorful Italian and French seaside towns, and villages nestled in the hills. There were approximately a billion tunnels to drive through along the way (Mom, you would have hated that part) but emerging from each one was like driving straight into postcard-esque scenery.

Plaza where our apartment was
When we finally arrived, we set out in search of the apartment we'd rented. Renting apartments for travel is always a little nerve-wracking as you can never be 100% sure what you're really getting. As we drove through the slightly seedy area that definitely did not look like the pictures from the website, we were a little worried. Luckily, our apartment was on a pedestrian-only street that couldn't have been a better location. We were directly outside of the Old Town, right next to Plaza Garibaldi. We started out on maybe not so great a note when the key didn't work to our apartment. When we were finally asked to come back, it took our very sweet hostess a good 20 minutes to teach us the "trick" to opening the door. But even with this tiny bump in the road, I loved where we stayed and would definitely go back. If you're looking for a place to stay, check out we stayed in the Bonaparte apartment! 

Most of the trip was walking, eating, and drinking rosé wine, all in the most wonderful way. 

Walking involved meandering through the Old Town markets, which had a very medieval feel to it. It reminded me a little of Bellagio with it's tiny shops and restaurants, as well as the curving, cobblestoned streets. I haven't quite figured out this atmosphere yet; I had thought it was a very Italian ambience, but now I'm wondering if it's all of Europe or maybe the Mediterranean. Either way, I love it! Walking also meant strolling along the coast, searching between the stones for sea glass. At one point, one of the girls stopped looking and drew my attention to the most beautiful sound: as the waves rolled back out to sea, they carried the stones with them, softly rattling against one another as they went. It wasn't exactly swimming weather, but this walk along the beach was unforgettable, and even though wading to your ankles isn't really a swim in the sea, I'm going to check it off The List all the same!


Cute little sign on our table at Papayou

In Paris, I really hated most of the food, but I've heard Parisian food is amazing so I'm going to just go with the idea that maybe we didn't choose the right restaurants. I had chalked it up to disliking French food, but have been proved wrong. 

Every meal was heavenly: 

Appetizers at Ark on a terrace overlooking the sea, traditional "Niçoise" beef stew with ravioli and creme brulée at Papayou, and spinach pasta with artichokes and sausage at olive&artichaut... Every bite was beyond wonderful. And don't even get me started with the paella in Monte Carlo

One of the best parts of where we stayed was that it wasn't in a tourist area. 

After dinner one night, we headed back to Rue Bonaparte to check out the bar scene. 

We went to an interesting little place called Le Comptoir Central Électrique, which I loved! The decor was eclectic, with lightbulbs hanging at different levels from the ceiling and exposed, chipping cement on the walls. The bar closed much earlier than we wanted to head in, so we asked one of the adorable bartenders where he'd suggest next. He sent us to Gossip Bar, a dance club playing cheesy English and French 80s music until his shift was over, then met us to take us to his favorite bar. I wish I'd written down the name, but the house music and younger crowd gave this one a more underground feel. It was so much fun to meet a local and get to see a few places we wouldn't have otherwise found. 

On our way out of Nice we stopped in Monaco, a tiny country that I'm embarrassed to say I didn't realize was its own country until trying to look up the "city's" weather the night before our trip. 

Laura and I are already talking about a trip back in June. The little we saw of Monte Carlo was beautiful. It had a much more ritzy vibe than Nice, possibly due to the presence of the legendary casino, port full of yachts, and countless windows displaying fabulously gaudy and ridiculously expensive jewelry. We didn't spend long in the lavish little nation, but it definitely left an impression. I am officially obsessed with the French Riviera. 

1 comment:

  1. So much cool stuff in just one post! So first of, Nice title (lol, pun right back at you). Now about the monotony of the every working day, think about will be more or less the same no matter where you are...sure back home you will have family and friends, but during the working days that won't make much of a just have to remind yourself what you wrote a the end of the paragraph you are in "some amazing dream that I never want to wake up from." and I bet that will give you a zap of energy and a big smile.

    The trip looks great, is just what you sign in for! working and travelling like crazy, make the best out of it...and I am one that says that is no better way to really know a palce tan to make it a road trip. No trains and planes for me if I can avoid is better to drive, stop when and where you want and really take it all in.

    And about Monaco, they are more of a principality tan a country per say, but still they have their own government, flag, etc. but for practical reasons they kindda make part of France, at least in the football league and other stuff :P...truth be told is a very rich principality...I bet you didn't see a lot of old or ugly cars, no sir...just audi, lamborgini and all sort of expensive wheelers!

    ANDDDD as a PS...those sun glasses are great :D