This morning we left Genoa on a train headed for Nice. We left the best hotel room we’ve stayed in, too. In fact, while Andy really enjoyed Genoa for its street art and lots of narrow alleys, I found the room to be the best part of the city. The bathroom had a large tub with jet sprays (I enjoyed a lovely bubble bath last night), the bed was soft and comfortable, and the room was spacious and clean. Best room of the trip. Luckily, the train didn’t leave until late morning, which meant we could sleep in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast downstairs before packing for our walk to the station, just two minutes away.
The train ride was going to be tricky because we actually had to change trains at one of the stops. We’d never done that before and we only had a 10-minute gap between them. I was a bit nervous. But the first part of the journey was uneventful, if not the most comfortable of rides. The train car was hot and we were sitting in a cabin with four other people, right next to the window with the sun streaming in the whole way. Normally I love the sun, but the lack of cool air made for a sweaty ride. At least we could enjoy the lovely scenery rolling by, first the Italian Riviera and then the French. All those beaches and yachts and gorgeous blue water!
When we got to the station to change trains, I noticed that we were about five or seven minutes late, allowing only two or three to find our train and board. Yeah, that was cutting it a bit close for me. But, we made it – just barely. Our Nice-bound train was just a couple of tracks over and turned out to be more like a metro. We didn’t have assigned seats; many people didn’t find seats at all. At least the cars were less hot, and we didn’t have too far to go.
At last we arrived at the Nice Ville station. Andy couldn’t resist taking a picture. How often do you get to go to Nice ville? I had mapped out our walk to the hotel and it was just about 10 or 15 minutes from the station. Our hotel, the Vendome, was clean and friendly, though not quite as great as our Genoa lodging. The room was much smaller, for one thing; the open door barely cleared the bed. We didn’t mind, though. We weren’t here for the room. Downstairs we asked for directions to the beach. It was such a lovely day and the water was so blue and pretty; we couldn’t resist.
One thing is different about this beach, though. There’s no sand, just rocks. Tons of smooth roundish rocks, like the ones you would buy to put in your garden. This is unusual for us, since we grew up in Florida where soft white sands are the norm. Oh well. We rented a couple of chairs and an umbrella, determined to relax all afternoon. Andy went swimming a bit. I tried, but the cold water and painful rock-walking convinced me to stay in my comfy seat. The chairs on this beach are much closer together than we’re used to on South Beach; it’s a cramped feeling. But once you’re settled in and enjoying the sun, it doesn’t matter much. We also watched people around us and napped: the first real downtime this trip.
Once we got tired of lounging we decided to start exploring. We found Nice’s Old Town area, a maze of narrow, winding roads packed with shops and restaurants. We found lots of interesting things, from clothes to trinkets to French ceramics to candy. These alleys were also much nicer than the ones we found in Genoa. The buildings were painted bright colors like pumpkin and olive green. People who lived there had their laundry hanging out to dry above our heads; I imagined living there among the hustle and bustle of the marketplace.
We wandered around, taking pictures and browsing the stores. I found a few things that I wanted to come back for the next day. We saw street performers and searched for the perfect place to eat (someplace good but inexpensive). After a meal of mussels and crepes, we continued our meandering stroll, wandering through parks near the beach. We enjoyed seeing a great fountain statue, some beautiful arcades of flowers, and even a lit-up carousel. The evening was warm, and we were together in France! Tomorrow we will savor Nice a bit more before boarding our final train - to Paris, the City of Love!