Monday, September 10, 2012

Paris and Nice: Part 4

After the craziness of Paris (see here, here, and here) it was time to pack our bags and head to Nice (pronounced like "niece") in southern France. We were exhausted from the first four days of the trip, and really looking forward to some relaxation by the Mediterranean! 

Day 5: Friday, June 1, 2012

Today was an early day. Our wake-up call was at 5:15 a.m. and we had to be in the hotel lobby dressed and ready with our bags packed at 7 a.m. to catch the train from Paris to Nice. 

Shane enjoying some "Bolognese" flavored
chips on the train.
Once on board the TGV, our trip took about 5 hours. (I later realized that this 5-hour train trip was more hours of relaxation than I'd had of sleep the previous night. Ridiculousness.) I slept a little bit then woke up to eat some of the ham sandwich I picked up at the train station. My mom had also packed a bunch of snacks, which was nice. I spent the rest of the trip putting together the first of my travel videos on the iPad. Shane played poker with the other boys on the trip (and I think ended up winning most of the money, although they weren't playing for keeps). Everyone enjoyed the scenery flying past the window. And if felt good to sit for that long :)

After the TGV we went to our hotel, the Best Western Hotel New-York. After a quick stop to drop off the bags, Angélique took us on a walk through Vieux (old) Nice to get some of the best ice cream I've ever had from Fenocchio. It actually won the silver medal for best ice cream in the region! They had some rather adventurous flavor options, but we opted for some of the safer looking options. I had a scoop of strawberry and a scoop of Nutella. Yum! Shane had passion fruit and cherry. 
Yes, that is cactus-flavored ice cream, and it's apparently pretty popular by the looks of it!
Next we went up to the top of the hill (by elevator, thank goodness) to see the ruins of a castle and a panoramic view of the city and the sea. It was absolutely gorgeous. There was also a manmade waterfall at the top, making it just that much more picturesque.

View from the top!

We walked down the hill and went on our way to the Confiserie Florian candy factory. They specialize in local favorites such as candies and jams made from flowers (violet, verbena, jasmine, you name it) and candied whole fruits (tangerines, pears, etc.). We learned about the candy making process, which is very intense -- the tangerines are soaked in sugar syrup for 45 days, for instance -- and then went upstairs to the shop to sample the bounty and buy souvenirs to bring home. Shane loved  the jasmine jelly and bought some for his mom. I was glad that we got to taste the candied tangerines, but I honestly did not care for the taste. They were oozing with thick, sticky, sugary syrup and did not taste like I thought they would. I preferred the candied orange and lemon peels, so we got a bag of each to bring home. 
Candied tangerines

Later we did some walking around town and down to the beach. We even saw the castle where an old film version of Beauty and the Beast was set. The beach was different than the beaches we're used to because it is made up of rocks instead of sand. We walked into the water a bit even though it was freezing (!) because you can't go to the Mediterranean and not dip your toes in. Some more adventurous vacationing teenagers had chosen a big rock and gone diving. Yikes!

Despite the beach made of rocks, there were still plenty of sunbathers.
 I can't imagine it's comfy to lay on those,
 but I guess if it gets hot enough, free hot stone massage!
We had a little bit of time before dinner so we looked at some of the little shops near the beach. We picked out a postcard to send to Shane's mom, her special souvenir request. Dinner was at a little restaurant overlooking the beach, and Shane and I got to sit at the adult table. Of course when you're in Nice, you're going to have salade niçoise. We also had a nice beef roast and little chocolate cakes for dessert. 

Happy birthday Stewart! What a fun way to spend it!

After dinner we went to the square near the beach to go shopping in the market they had set up. They had all sorts of interesting booths there, selling things like jewelry, purses, artwork, and souvenirs made out of the beach rocks. There was even one man at a clay wheel turning tiny clay pots and vases and giving them out to passerby. Shane bought a teensy clay owl for his collection at home.

It was finally time to come back to the hotel. It has been a long day, especially with all the travel, but I am really looking forward to the slower, relaxing pace in Nice.

As usual, there are way too many photos of the day to fit into one blog post, so check out my corresponding YouTube video below! 

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