Europe 2012: Day 49, Nice


View of Nice from Castle Hill (France).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Woke at 8:30am.  Sunny and warm.

For our first day in Nice, we decide to take it easy and check out the shopping district.  Not that I intend to buy anything mind you.  If I did, I would need to lug the stuff around for the next 59 days and that would not be good.

Entry to La Maison de Marie

The hotel manager recommended lunch at La Maison de Marie.    We tried to find this place yesterday with no success.  Today we found it (turns out it is in New Nice, not Old Nice).  This is a nice fancy restaurant tucked away in an unassuming alley.   And the best thing (aside from a menu in English) is that it has those wonderful water misters that spray a cooling wet mist in the air every now and then – it is heaven (and great for our skin, I think).    We share a Plate of the Day – Caprice Salad, Chicken with Penne, and a cool Peach and Apricot Pie.

I love French wine with French olives!

We linger for at least an hour after completing our meal.   I am sipping my espresso as we watch people come in and out the restaurant.   My DH tells me “this is what I love about Europe – the surroundings and the casual lifestyle.  I can’t find this in Santa Clara.”   I agree, this is pretty cool!

Republic Square in Nice — entry point to the main shopping district (France)

It wouldn’t be France without a naked guy in a fountain (Republic Square, Nice, France)

Shopping?  Man, there are lots of shopping options here.   I don’t even go into most stores since the store window displays are nicely done.  There is nothing here that I can’t find in the states.   However, it is interesting to see what Europeans are buying.  Shoes are popular (the higher the heel and the thicker the sole, the better).  Big designer handbags are popular too (the more garish, the better).  White dresses in linen and cotton dominate women’s clothing (all for tiny thin women, best I can tell).  The one place we do browse through, however, are the kitchen shops.   We look for dinner and cook ware with that distinctive European flair of modern meets old-world charm – why can’t we find these in the States?  All very nice and reasonably priced if it were not for the poor US to Euro exchange rate and the cost of shipping to the US – outrageous!

Someone put soap in a fountain — the kids loved it! (Nice, France)

We stopped at a café to cool off and get something cold to drink.   We tried a beach front café first, but there was no breeze and the place felt like an oven.   We settled for a café off the beach and a couple of streets inland with a deep awing and a cool breeze.   Since we were close by, we decided to go up to Castle Hill to see the gardens and the views.

Castle Hill use to be a castle but now it is more hill.  It has a long history of kings and war.   What you need to know is that if you ever visit this site, take the elevator up to the top, it appeared to be free in that no one was around to charge us for the lift.

View from Castle Hill — the other side of Nice, France.

View from Castle Hill. So they park the expensive boats here! (Nice, France)

The gardens at the top of Castle Hill are green and the views of Nice are spectacular!   I took in the views, my DH sat on the lawn taking in the coolness of a shady tree.   We walked around a bit but there is not much to see other than dark clouds rolling in.   I thought, “Good God – they found us!” as wet memories of England surfaced.  In less than an hour, we took the elevator down and headed back to the hotel for a nap.    It never did rain.

Interesting trees on Castle Hill (Nice, France)

Oh no — the storm clouds found us! (Nice, France)

Last night, my DH was going through restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor and found glowing reviews about the restaurant, Oliveria.   He was intrigued so he made reservations for 8pm tonight.  This is a small restaurant, only ten tables and only one serving per night.   Here, it is all about the olive oil!   According to the reviews, the owner of this restaurant spends time with every guest and tells you about the different olive oils of the region.   He matches the olive oil to your dish.  It is supposed to be an “unforgettable experience”.   Unfortunately for us, all we learned is that this nice gentleman tends to over-extend himself.  He spends time with everyone because he is the waiter and the cook.  Yes, he was friendly in that he greeted and seated us right away.  Yes, he told us about the olive oils.  But, the evening progressed slowly and as the temperature in the restaurant climbed, our interest sort of faded.  The food was good – I ordered the Vegetable Lasagna, my DH ordered the Pasta with Pesto.   Both dishes were served with more olive oil then I would use in a month!  We skipped dessert.

We returned to our hotel stuffed and tired.   It was a busy day and the heat was getting to me.  I drank almost an entire liter of water all by myself.  I fell to sleep immediately.

Quote of the day:    “You buy it, you carry it” — DH 

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