Monday, October 23, 2023

France 2023 - A Fine Day in Nice

The pullout couch bed is surprisingly comfortable and we wake up not early but not late either. Last night we picked up a few food items from the Intermarche grocery store across the street so we enjoy a leisurely breakfast on our small balcony then walk into the port area. 

After browsing around in a marine supply shop (force of habit) we hike up the Colline du Chateau which provides a magnificent vista over the city and harbour. Our question of how these boats manage to stern into such narrow slips is answered when we watch dock staff in two separate boats tow and push a sailboat all the way across the entire marina and expertly shoehorn it in between two other boats.

We walk down the massive promenade into Nice's old city. It is magnificent. Architectural wonders at every turn, narrow streets lined with interesting shops and the regular assortment of cafes and restaurants full of chic Europeans drinking their little coffees, smoking, chatting with friends, and making full use of these incredible public spaces designed hundreds of years ago for just this.

As we're walking down one street we're rattled by the noise of an explosion. Everybody around us jumps, startled, then looks around momentarily, and immediately gets back to what they were doing. I have no idea what it was. Strangely, a block later we are passed by half a dozen French soldiers in full fatigue uniforms carrying assault rifles, but they were in no hurry, so I assume it's just a coincidence.

The long strip where we ate last night has been transformed into a massive goods market with everything from nautical antiques to records to soap. I take a pass on the market and instead walk down to ocean and lay down on the beach, which is a thick blanket of stones instead of sand. I look for shapes in the clouds for a while then when that gets tiresome I pull out my Boredom Solution Machine and make smart assed comments on others' social media posts.

We randomly select one of the hundred restaurants and sit down for lunch. Ana has a Nicoise salad for lunch to see if it's any better here in the dish's origin city. It is indeed good, but it seems there's only so much you can do with tuna, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, eggs, and oil all mixed together.

We decide on a post-lunch half-marathon and walk and walk and walk, taking a break only to visit the beach and dip our hands into the Mediterranean Sea for the first time. We come across a memorial to the 86 people who were killed (and 434 injured) in a terrorist attack here in 2016 where they were run down on the promenade by a angry young man in a van. It's impossible for me to imagine the horror of that day as I look out to the promenade today and see families walking together, couples in love, people walking their dogs. So much can change in a moment.

We finally return to the apartment around 6 or 7pm and can't bear the thought of leaving again for dinner so we instead make breakfast for dinner and enjoy bacon,  eggs, cheese, baguette, and juice then watch a movie and get to bed early. Tomorrow is going to be a huge day. 

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