Hello All -
Or shall I say, "Bonjour!" I'm not in France any more, I wish I was, but I'm way behind on blog entries so I'm catching up. On the Wednesday the 19th of March I set out on an epic adventure - my first trip all on my own. I took the day off from classes and boarded a train to Paris around noon on Wednesday arriving around 4pm. After hanging about in Paris for a few hours, getting stuck in a rainstorm and schlepping across the city to the train station I boarded an overnight train to Nice. While in the train station I ate my dinner of baguette and brie and felt very French. I talked to a couple from Saskatchewan, Canada who were also going to Nice. They were very nice and very curious about my epic adventures. They reminded me a bit of the Groce side of the family - similar sense of humor. It was really nice to talk to someone as I'd basically been silent all day as I soon found out this is what traveling alone is about. You'll converse with shop keepers and such and maybe people at the hostel but for the most part you are on your own. It's terrifying and nice at the same time.
After an uneventful overnight trip in a car with an elderly couple and a really nice girl in her late 20s I arrived in Nice at around 8 am. The instructions I had gotten from the hostel were to take a bus to St. Michel's square and call the hostel using a pay phone and they would come pick me up. The woman said they would be there in 10 minutes...35 minutes later they arrived. I did however have a nice conversation with a woman who was trying to get into her bank but it was closed. I was standing outside of the bank waiting for the van to come and she was exasperated as it was not open even though it was supposed to open at 8:30. She asked me for the time and I told her - 8:28. Then we laughed a bit and she walked away and she came back and went in. It was nice.
I arrived at the hostel, got breakfast and checked in. I then set out to explore. It was around 9:15 when I finally got into town and I attempted to make my way to the flower market Laura recommended to me. Here's an interesting little side note - Laura lived in Nice for 3 months at some point in her life (not sure when...high school some time I think) and so she gave me a whole list of things to do. The flower market was awesome, a bit touristy but still really cool. I wandered around for a bit and then went and sat on the beach. The beach was all pebbles. It was so cool. There were stones and then after about a foot of drop off the beautiful blue Mediterranean. Unfortunately I didn't wear flip-flops so I couldn't dip my feet in but I hear it's freezing anyway. Also Laura said to stay away - it made her really sick once. After hanging out on the beach and writing in my notebook I went to explore the old town. It was filled with all sorts of really cool shops and people speaking FRENCH. It was so much fun to hear everyone conversing and to actually understand a good portion of it. I love French and I really want to become fluent. It'd be so nice to have a summer home in France or something. One day...
I stopped back in at the market and got the most beautiful, enormous strawberries ever. They were so delicious. I enjoyed them SO much - they lasted me all day. Then I happened upon the Gelato place that Laura told me I had to check out, Fennochio's. They have LITERALLY every single flavor of gelato imaginable. Tomato and Basil was one of them. Rosewater, Lavender it was insane. I got strawberry and chocolate, again on Laura's instructions and it was so delicious. Nothing like gelato at 11:30 in the morning. I then set off to scale the hill up to the fortress. I kind of happened upon it accidentally but thought oh - I should probably climb this. It turns out my instinct was correct.
The first thing I happened upon was the cemetery. It was so beautiful and filled with flowers. Most of them were fake - like the ones in Venice - but there was one grave that was recently erm... made useful and it was COVERED in elaborate flower displays. They said things like "from your sons" and "With condolences from the minister of wherever" it was really strange and the flowers were spectacular. The church was such a beautiful orange color and the roof was so spectacular. After a while walking around the cemetery I started to get a little weirded out. So I made my way over to the next place. On my way along the path I discovered the waterfall. I heard the water and instinctively followed it to try and figure out where it was coming from. The waterfall was so pretty and the mist that was spraying up when it hit the rocks looked like something out of a movie - especially when the sun was coming through it. I wish you all could have been there to see how beautiful this place was. It really was paradise.
After the waterfall I continued my ascent and came to the top where all the tourists were taking their pictures and such. Silly tourists. You could see mountains and endless sea from the top it was insane. After a lot of time just staring in disbelief I made my way back down and explored the newer part of town which - Laura was correct - is boring. I tried to go see the Chegall museum on recommendation from Robin but once I finally found it, in a very sketchy area, it was closed. Something about financial yearly counting or something. Dumb. So I made my way back to the hostel around 4. On my walk up the giant hill to the hostel (it was so steep I can't even explain it. Think.... Broadway drive in Portland steep) I decided I would go to the Matisse museum since it was early and the guidebook I had looked at said it was cool. It was in a beautiful location and I met a very nice old French woman who told me to always keep smiling, it will take me far. I agree.
Let's be honest here - Matisse... Not impressed. I could do most of the things they had at the museum. It's all cut outs glued onto other paper. No thanks Matisse. Some of his sculptures were kind of cool though. The most exciting part of the Museum trip was on the way back down from the museum, it was up in the hills behind my hostel - I took a bus - I helped an Italian group talk to a French woman. I translated from Italian (broken English/Italian) to French and French to English/Sign language. It was actually quite fun. I was good at it too. Maybe I'll quit film and become a translator.
I returned to the Hostel around 7:30 and got a glass of wine and ate my bread and goat cheese in solitude. It was hard to meet people as everyone was in a group... So I didn't really try. Oh well - I had to get up at 5:15 the next day to catch a 6:00 tram to catch my train at 6:30 so I wasn't too worried about it. I went back to my room, showered, packed and read my book until 9:30 when I went to bed.
All in all the only problem I had with Nice was check out as there was no one at the window in the morning even though reception was supposed to be 24 hours - so my Oregon Drivers License is in limbo somewhere between here and Nice because they said they sent it weeks ago. Anyhow at least it wasn't my passport. I arrived at the train station no problem and took a 5 hour train through the GORGEOUS French countryside to Paris. I even got to see the sunrise over the ocean. It was magnificent. If you ever get the chance to go to Nice I highly recommend it - it is definitely one of my favorite places I have gone.