Sunday, October 6, 2013

DATELINE: Nice (2)

Before I forget this most important "thank you" I want to send a BIG one to my friend MSMAS over at NOCOMMANO for insuring our weather.  MAS enjoys deep parking mojo; she can always find a parking place close to wherever she wants to go.  She volunteered to "share" some of this mojo to bring us good weather on our trip.  It has worked marvelously.  Although the weather report may say rain or overcast or drizzles, it's been perfect, so far.  Not always bright and sunny, like today, but pleasant and cool-ish which is just what you want when walking through a city like Nice.  Siena had one day/night of rain, but I decided that at that particular time she needed the mojo to find a parking place.  Merci beaucoup, mon ami!

And now to get caught up.  First, a picture show.  Let's start back in Vicenza.

The street door to our apartment in Vicenza

The entry hall to the 'mini" apartment

The bed/living room
Bed/dining/kitchen with resident chef hard at work

Bathroom with door onto balcony.  We had a washing machine that turned everything purple.
Now you know where we were and how we were living.  Very nicely, thank you.

On Wednesday we caught the train for Venice.

On the steps of Santa Lucia train station, your first sight of the city when coming by train
 I've been there five times, I think, and every time the city seems as improbable as it did the time before.  Here's this giant lily pad floating out in the Adriatic with an entire city built on it ~ 118 islands created by 177 canals in a superficial lagoon, and connected by 409.How it works I'll never know.  But it does, and it attracts tens of thousands of others who marvel at the mystery of the place.  The real reason we went was to have lunch at a place we stumbled upon many years ago and have returned to twice.  But this time we absolutely could not find it.  After an hour's search, we gave up and settled for something right in front of us that was unremarkable to say the least.  A few random pix of the city.

Cafe life on St. Mark's square in the sunshine

Palace of the Doge.  It was good to be the Doge.
The Bridge of Sighs, a must-see
Venetian vermin in St. Mark's.  They are NOT cute.  Everything is coated with pigeon poop.

Across the canal to St. Giorgio Maggiori

Life on the canal

Life on the canal

This amazing place is a youth hostel on the Guidecca, across from St. Mark's Square.

These are the turrets of St. Mark's; front was in scaffolding.  This is sort of a stupid photo but one MUST take a picture of St. Mark's when confronted with it.


more bridges
even more bridges

Venitian commuter, doing the crossword puzzle on his way home from work on city transportation.  Not the subway.
 We were in Vicenza on both Tuesday and Thursday, both big market days.  I didn't have my camera with me on Tuesday, but on Thursday, when we had finished other chores, we walked from the train station to the market.  First, we passed through a beautiful park that is the haven of joggers and dog walkers.  This little monument to the Palladian history of this town is in one corner of the park.

We found the market, hopping with locals buying prepared food, cheese, meats, fish, veggies and fruits, and flowers.  Oh my, acres of beautiful flowers.

The flowers of choice at this time of year seem to be cyclemen; they are everwhere and in bright, rich colors.

The last time we were here was the winter of 2007 and we bought several little plants to put on the balcony of our apartment.  A cheerful sight in the grey of November in Italy.

The particular dish we were after at the market ~ pastissio de pesca - a sort of fish lasagna that is so delicious - was not in any of the wagons, so we left the market and headed home.  This is the lovely little bridge we cross each time we come and go.

Friday morning we bid farewell to Vicenza and went off to Genoa via Milan.  One night at the Villa del Mare hotel, and we were on the train again, this time to Nice. We took this route at the suggestion of my long-time pal Liz, a real world traveler.  And I'm so glad we did.  First, MAS came through with gorgeous weather although the forecast had been for rain and cloudy skies all day.  She had plenty powerful mojo.  The train wends up the coast of Italy along the riviera; the blue Med is on one side, sun-washed villas on the other side.  Riots of flowers.  (Oh, I should add that the camera was packed away so no photos; you'll just have to believe me.)  We got off at Ventimiglia and changed trains for Nice/Antibes/Cannes.  We crossed into France a little before Menton (famous for it's avenues of orange trees that scent up the whole region when in bloom), through Eze sur Mer, Beaulieu sur Mer, Villefranche, and finally to Nice.  We walked down to our hotel, The Little Palace, got our room for a two-day respite from dragging suitcases around.    Here's the no-view out of our hotel window; at least it's quiet.

Room with No View
This morning we set out on a great search for our past visits to Nice.  The weather was a bit humid but pleasant (thanks again, MAS) and our first stop was my parents' apartment when they lived here in 1978-79.  Their address was on the Ave. Francaise in Le Residence Le Gibraltar.  Their apartment belonged to the Anglican Church in France and my parents rented it for 4 or 5 months, as I recall.  I came down from Paris and stayed with them during the month of February, 1978, right after returning from Kenya.  I stayed across the street at a rooming house run by Mme. Sophie, a tyrant and strict "housemother" but I had a really great time here with my family.

I even managed to find the Belgian bakery that was my father's favorite go-to place his morning croissants.  And when Jim and I were here in 1984 we bought sandwiches to take with us on the train to either Montpellier or Marseilles, we can't remember which.

We also looked up a favorite restaurant, found it (not open for lunch) and noted this on their menu.  A true locavore.

Then we walked down to the Promenade des Anglaise, a wide seafront walkway that's like a grand boulevard and, in the past, was the center of Nice social life.  Now it's a place for roller skaters, skateboarders, bicycle riders.  When I was here back then there were wrought iron chairs all along the walkway and gentlemen and ladies in rather formal dress would stroll in the mornings, sit awhile and take in the breathtaking views, and then move on.  The same thing in the late afternoons, probably while the cook was preparing dinner.  Here's what it looks like now.  The chairs are all gone and what you have it their place are souvenir shops.  On the right you can see stairs going down to the beach where you can BUY a seat on the sand!


 In the other direction, Nice under a threatening sky that, fortunately, never did anything.

 Out at sea I saw these little one-person sail boats that looked like pelicans on a reef.


On our way down to the Old Port for the Sunday market, another thing I remember from my time here, we passed the park with this ornate carousel.  I think it's the same one that was here during my stay.

 I was delighted to find the market in full swing.  There must have been 100+ vendors of food, flowers, some things like olive oil, soap, sachets ~ they're big on Proven├žal stuff here.

how many kinds of garlic does one need to choose from?

beautifully arranged haricots verts
I dislike intensely marzipan but these beauties were very tempting
tiny strawberries

little posey bouquets

We decided we'd had enough ~ I bought some Proven├žal olives with garlic and herbs and some fragrant soaps ~ and started looking for someplace for lunch.  Passed this display and were tempted, but moved on.

Walked back to "my" old neighborhood and settled on this bar/cafe, partly because it's the name of my last remaining uncle, who lives in Playa del Rey.  Here's to you, Uncle Morrie!

That about catches me up on everything and everyplace.  I don't know what we're going to do about dinner; I'm still full from lunch.  We leave tomorrow morning on the TGV for Paris.  We went up to the train station this morning and picked up our tickets  that I had ordered online so we don't have to hassle with it in the morning when the train station is awash in travelers.  Tomorrow night we'll be tucked up in our apartment in the 5th (Latin Quarter, a block from the Sorbonne).l  We've (I've) already decided we'll go to Les Perigordines for dinner; they have the BEST mussels anywhere!  I'm hoping I haven't used up all MAS's weather mojo.


mary ann said...

Oh, this is such a FEAST and you are more than welcome for the weather. It just rained when you needed a rest.

Anonymous said...

Liz says:

What fabulous photos! I love your teeny Vicenza apartment, and the bridge photo nearby--gorgeous. So glad you enjoyed the train ride from Genoa to Nice.

I got really teared up with the pix of Venice. So many lovely memories. The last trip Jim & I made together... I have been there briefly twice since he died, and its magic never disappoints. I must go back again. I must.

Thanks for the gorgeous postcard of Siena Duomo interior--isn't it magnificent?