36 Hours in Nice

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July 13, 2011 by Leah

Two countries down, one to go. We haven’t yet been run over by any vehicles or had any unpleasant experiences due to my perilously bad French. (A couple of our friends who were with us in Lormes are fluent, so it’s only been an issue for slightly over 24 hours.) Actually, it seems like all the people here speak English. I kind of wish they didn’t, so I could feel vaguely accomplished. Then again, Aaron and I walked to the village on our first morning in France and managed to buy baguettes, croissants, and other goodies from three different shops while using only my very limited French. I was inordinately proud of this.

Now that we are almost accustomed to  using French, at least for pleasantries, we are heading for Italy. I lapsed into Spanish exactly once during the past week – I expect this to happen much more often over the next week, and with comical effects.

(On a completely unrelated note: last night, we were sacked out in our hotel room watching a show called ‘C’est Notre Affaire’ which had a segment on chicken raising. Apparently, battery eggs are rated ‘0,’ ‘plein aire’ eggs – which I had assumed were equivalent to pastured, and therefore superior, eggs – are rated ‘2,’ and ‘bio,’ or organic, eggs are rated ‘3,’ for reasons one can divine. I love that a TV show is investigating food labeling practices in this manner. I’m also sad such public investigations aren’t common in the States. On a related note, apparently there are many food additives that are common in the US and not allowed in Europe. Sigh.)

Nice has been interesting, and quite a departure from our country paradise of Lormes. At one point, Aaron said that being here is like going on vacation to Los Angeles. While the tourists and palm trees are similar, most of the rest is not.

Our tiny room in Nice was on the top (fourth/fifth, depending on your point of view) floor of a hotel near the train station. The ceiling sloped and there were exposed beams of dark wood and ancient (i. e. dowel rather than nail) construction. So cool. We had a balcony with walls up to our shoulders, from which we could see clay-tiled rooftops galore.

We spent most of our time in Nice meandering around – it’s my favorite way to get to know new places. We wandered through the daily market in the Old Town yesterday, and I took many pictures of vegetables, spices, and braided garlic. We went to the top of the hill that used to have a medieval fortress on it, 300 years ago. We put coins into offering boxes so we could wander through churches, and had a huge and delicious lunch in a busy but charming square – after which I spent a solid half hour swimming around in the Mediterranean.

We missed the Chagall museum because I only saw my friends’ recommendations for the place at 5 p.m., and the museum closes at 6. We did manage to wait out a thunderstorm (after getting thoroughly soaked) at a beach cafe – nursing beers, watching the rain on the water, and counting the seconds between lightning and thunder. I think we also managed to do pretty well by this city which is so full of people. My favorite part was when Aaron said, ‘If someone had told me, three years ago, that I’d be in Nice with my wife right now, I would have been amazed.’

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