Travel Tuesday – Nice is Nice

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year celebrations. 2012 is already off to a good start!

This week in Travel Tuesday, Bernie and I head to Nice, France and discover that there is such a thing as a sand-less beach.

After leaving La Spezia, we headed to our next country, France. Our first stop was 2 days and 2 nights in Nice, France along the French Rivera. After checking into our hotel, Bernie and I decided to go walk around and see some of the sights of Nice. First, we stopped in a modern art museum. Modern art is not really our favorite, but we decided to check it out anyway. It was pretty empty and small, but there were some cool sculptures.

Then we headed to the Natural History Museum, which was really should have been called the National History Room. This place was TINY! We walked past it about 4 times before we finally stumbled upon a nondescript door. Once we walked in, a man at the front desk starting speaking French to Bernie. Bernie then replied (in French) that he only spoke in English. That was weird, we thought. Then we realized that Bernie was wearing a Chateau t-shirt, a Boston area restaurant that his parents’ neighbor owns. Oops. He must have thought that Bernie spoke French because he was wearing a t-shirt with French on it.

The museum had a lot of stuffed animals and objects in clear boxes. We enjoyed looking at all the weird stuff. There was also animatronic men. Very odd museum.

After walking around museums, we were ready to go outside and explore. We ended up climbing Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill). It was a hot day, and climbing wasn’t fun, but once we got to the top, the views were spectacular.

Once we climbed down, we decided to get some food. Before traveling to France, we always heard from people that the French in general don’t like American tourists. Since we had such positive experiences in Italy with the locals, we didn’t think twice about the same thing happening in France. Overall, however, I would say that the French in Nice were not quite as friendly. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they hate American tourists, but we didn’t always get the best service and had to ask twice or three times for things. This wasn’t the norm everywhere we went, but at this particular lunch it was. We sat down at a cafe and ordered our food. There was a misunderstanding about what I ordered (the waitress didn’t understand my english) and I got a salad I didn’t order. When I told her that this wasn’t what I wanted, she threw her hands in the air and started speaking French, really really fast. I decided to just let it slide and had the first food fail of the trip. The salad was really generic and something that you would get at a bad American fast food restaurant. Fail.

After our food fail, we walked around and shopped a little bit. Nice had a ton of shops! I didn’t end up getting anything, but Bernie ended up getting some clothes. Clothes shopping in Europe tended to be a challenge for Bernie. His muscles are too big for all the shirts – he would end up having to get xl or xxl sizes just so that his arms would fit in them.

Later that night, the whole tour group met up for a big dinner. It was one of our fellow traveler’s birthday so we were all ready to celebrate. The highlight of the dinner was ordering “big beers” – yes, this is how they were described on the menu. These mugs were massive.

All the ladies!

The guys!

Then we headed to Ma Nolan’s – an Irish pub for Jon’s birthday. The bar reminded me of an Irish pub in Boston – live music, good drinks, and lots of beer. I felt very much at home – I am Irish afterall. They also had Kilkenny beer – one of my ancester’s home town brew.

We had such a good time and it was a great way to unwind after a long day walking around and exploring.

The next day we had a whole free day to ourselves, so Bernie and I headed toward the beach. On the way, we stumbled upon a weekend market. There was everything from fresh seafood and fruits and veggies, to homemade crafts and soaps.

Once we got to the beach, we discovered that Giuseppe wasn’t kidding when he said the beach was rocky. It was all rocks! Not a drop of sand to be seen. With a little maneuvering, it was pretty easy to make yourself a bed to lie on with the rock. We never went into the water, but it was beautiful.

After napping for a good couple of hours on the beach, we stopped for some yummy seafood. Finally – some good French service and French fries!

After resting at the hotel and taking a shower, we met everyone in the lobby for a special trip to a certain famous casino in the second smallest country in the world, second to the Vatican.

Until next time!