. We found a free beach spot and walked up the beach to the waves, although we didn’t realize how rocky the beach would be – it’s actually quite painful to walk on without flip-flops. We both got in the water but Creighton decided he wanted to stay by our bags to protect our belongings and watched while Kelly continued to play in the water. At one point we saw several F-18 fighter jets fly in tight formation across the beach, turn, release red, white and blue smoke and then fly off. It was quite impressive but as there was no one out to watch it, we figured it was just a test-run. While Kelly was playing, Creighton built a defensive rock wall and moat to keep out the waves approaching our beach spot. Unfortunately, the waves were bigger than he anticipated.
That evening, we went out to Old Nice in search of a restaurant recommended by our trusty guidebook. Alas, even with our great navigational skills, the restaurant was a no-show. Distraught, we sought refuge in a nearby restaurant, L’Escalinada. It exceeded all our expectations. We shared a seafood appetizer with what we think was octopus filet and quite possibly the best gnocchi we have ever had. After dinner, we stopped at Fenocchio’s Gelato and no more than a few bites in, we heard the sound of fireworks coming from the beach. We ran through the Old Town as quickly as possible to get to the beach to observe a grand fireworks show with three barges launching fireworks set to the music of Daft Punk and other electronic bands
. After the show, we meandered through the town back to our hotel. Once back at the hotel, we learned the festivities that we observed throughout the day were in celebration of the fact that 150 years ago the city of Nice chose to join France instead of Italy.
Our second day in Nice was even more overcast, so we spent the majority of the day relaxing in the hotel and venturing out during breaks in the rain. Between thunderstorms, we had a morning run along the boardwalk, found an English book store to find some entertainment for the day, had a picnic lunch along the beach and tried the authentic Nicoise dish cassoulet (a shared stew-like dish with white beans, duck and sausage) at L’Ovale Restaurant.
Although our trip to Nice wasn’t the sunny, beach experience we expected, it was a great opportunity to relax and refresh before our busy adventures in Italy. Up next – hiking the coast of Cinque Terre, museum trekking in Florence, exploring Roman architecture and gondola-ing in Venice.
We rounded out our time in France with a stop along the French Riviera. We had a beautiful train ride in, following the coast from Avignon to Nice. The skies were sunny and the beaches were packed. We hurried to the hotel in anticipation on hitting the beach. Our hotel is known for having a modern-art museum feel and each room was designed by a different artist. We were informed that we would be in the Golden Room, one of the hotel's most requested. The sparse room was indeed a piece of modern art. The bedroom walls and ceiling were painted gold with a single white bed directly in the center of the room. The room had minimal fixtures with the main light being underneath the bed. After taking in our room, we grabbed our swimsuits to head to the beach only to be greeted by cloudy skies and wind. We got to the boardwalk and couldn’t decide whether it was worth the 20 euros each for a chair, umbrella and towel so we walked most of the way across Nice on the boardwalk. We turned around and came back and decided we needed to at least put our feet in the water as the next days forecast looked grim as well