After a couple trains I had finally made it to Nice. At first, I was totally lost, waiting for my CouchSurfing host, Gabriel. He was going to meet me at the train station but my phone stopped working when I crossed into France so I wasn’t sure where he was or when I would be able to get a SIM card. So I just walked around a bit, people watching and hoping at some point Gabriel would get there.
I found a snack machine someone had put €3 into without getting a snack so I got a double pack of twix (4 bars). I spat back out another euro (By this point I’m loving France) so I got another pack and ate eight total bars of twix which made my half hour of waiting so much more enjoyable.
Chocolate makes everything better.
Eventually Gabriel found me in the bus station and we went back to his apartment where I met Tom – a 19 year old Welsh kid on his way to a WWOOF project (world wide opportunities in organic farming, or something along those lines. It’s like couchsurfing where you get lodging, but you also get food and stuff while working on a farm for someone) in the next few days, and Thomas – a 23 year old German cyclist making his way from Germany to Portugal on bike! Gabriel is an ex banker in his fifties who does massage therapy to support an orphanage in the Philippines. What a crazy group of people.
Anyway, that night we toured the town and sat down at an American restaurant called Blast. Everything here is SO expensive. I opted not to get anything, but Gabriel convinced me to get a glass of panaché (I think that’s what it was called?) which is lemonade and beer mixed together. It was actually really good, but definitely not worth €6. If you ever come to Nice to do anything other than sight-seeing, plan on spending several hundred dollars for a few days. Since I don’t have that option, I’ve just been eating cheap pizza, bread, and salami from the grocery store, since groceries here actually aren’t bad. I haven’t found any SIM cards for under €25 yet, but the search continues… Tom spent Friday night not with us, but with the US ambassador (retired, anyway) who lives maybe a mile away from Gabriel, right on the coast. Gabriel, Thomas and I resolved to go to a beach tomorrow and to bike around.
The view of part of Nice from the Supermarket.
The next morning we went out biking (about 20km through the mountains and neighboring towns). I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Seriously, water can be this blue?
We made it to this place which looks like Bel Air. All the houses look out over the water and cost in the tens of millions to buy. But here I was, not having spent a dime all day, cycling through their streets.
Eventually we made it to the “beach” at Cap Ferrat (or something, French is weird) and swam in the cold, crystal blue water of the Mediterranean with all the posh people from the five start resort not 300 meters behind us.
Apparently, there is no tide in the Mediterranean Sea, since it’s not connected enough with the ocean (only connected through the straight of Gibraltar which isn’t wide enough to allow tide flow). The waves however are pretty powerful, just not very big. It’s difficult to get anywhere by swimming, but you can ride the waves pretty easily back to shore.
On the way back we stopped a few times to take pictures of the stunning views of la Côte d’Azur.
And of course people watching.
And me. Proof I was there I guess.
Gabriel wanted us to meet the US ambassador so we stopped by his place on the way back into town. He was a VERY affluent man, with this jungle-esque rock wall in the back of his apartment, with a gorgeous view of the sea from the front.
The interior is lined entirely with marble, there’s a jacuzzi in the center, and German artwork from the fifties and sixties hang on each wall. He served us orange juice rum stuff, homemade iced tea, potato chips, and even cheddar cheese puffs and provided a block of cheddar cheese for us. After the rum, and his insistence on my trying a Portuguese ‘Porto’ (very very sweet wine-like drink) I was a bit tipsy. I couldn’t help but laugh at how ridiculous this situation was. Sitting in the back porch of a super rich resident of Nice, eating Cheetos and potato chips, drinking Porto and listening to the babel of another affluent neighbor lady who wanted to share the day’s gossip with us (in French, of course), AFTER having checked “swim in the Mediterranean” off my bucket list.
When we got back to Gabriel’s apartment I ran to the grocery store to get some food and made us some cheap pizza and bread with salami.
This microwave actually doubles as an oven!!
Unfortunately, Gabriel and Thomas informed me they were going out to eat instead later that night, but Tom was coming over so I figured I would leave it for him after having my fill. Well… Here’s where it gets a little tense.
Gabriel agreed to give Thomas a massage since he’d been biking forever and was really sore. That was going to take about an hour, and Tom was on his way over, so Gabriel told me just to go on out with Tom and they would catch up with us (there was a party on the port last night that we were all planning to attend). Tom didn’t actually end up coming up to Gabriel’s but instead asked me to meet him at the bus station. Running a little late, I forgot my glasses and wallet on the way out (doable), but also forgot to leave the keys at the apartment, so they were in my pocket.
Thirty minutes later I told Tom to check his phone to see where Gabriel was since I didn’t have a working phone yet. That’s when I realized my mistake of taking the keys… By the time we got back, Gabriel was very upset. I’m always making so many stupid mistakes! But we headed out to the port party, and after a while it seemed like he had forgotten and we had a really great time listening to local music in several languages and seeing people dance.
It was a great time! Nice is beautiful even at night, and the air is warm enough here that you don’t need a jacket or anything. We walked back and headed immediately to bed; Gabriel and Thomas were going to bike a very long ways the next morning (Sunday) and I didn’t want to get sick and knew I needed a lot of sleep.
This morning, I thought I was locked in because there was no key here, so I’ve literally been inside all day thinking I had been locked in. Turns out, I totally could have left and come back any time after 5 since Gabriel and Thomas would be back from their bike ride. I’m an idiot, so I wasted a whole day in Nice inside thinking I was locked in! Yikes! Now it’s thunder storming, so I’ll have to wait until that’s over if I want to go outside. More later!
Monday night I went out to see the sunset by the beach. SO beautiful.
Don’t know what went wrong with this picture.
I was feeling daring so I thought I would try to get a closer look at the ocean where some other guys had been standing. Suddenly, the waves got bigger and attacked me.
I got mouthful of saltwater (yum) and couldn’t stop laughing after I’d put away my camera. A little ten year old kid started laughing with me and I got cheeky.
“Viens ici, j’ai un peu d’eau pour toi.” (Come here, I have a bit of water for you)
Then I took the most attractive picture of myself of all time (for proof of the wetness).
So now it’s Tuesday, And I’ve been in Nice four full days. Time to move on! I’ve gotten to know my host, Gabriel, and Tom and Thomas pretty well. I found time to make it down to the beach today with Tom after doing some CouchSurfer yoga class at the top of a park overlooking the city and sea.
That’s me swimming. Or water bending. Or something.
After drying off and walking around a bit, we met up with Thomas and Gabriel at the former US ambassador’s house for dinner… Duck, salad, rice, wine, and yogurt-like dessert. It was phenomenal. It was a really nice dinner that doubled as a going-away party as well as celebrating the end of Gabriel’s summer of hosting couchsurfers (he’s had 16 people this summer alone, not including AirBnB, another site like couchsurfing). I’ve really enjoyed my stay here and I’ve manage to spend very little money, for which I am infinitely grateful. Now that I am back on budget, I’m planning on hitchhiking to Paris tomorrow and Thursday. It is a 1000km stretch, so it’s going to be an adventure! I’ve loved being here, but I think I’ve already settled down too much from the hustle of constantly running into problems to solve to really get the most out of my trip.
Tomorrow I’ll see Tom one last time and get a piece of cardboard from the local supermarket to make my sign. After that, I’m on my own. My next host is Camille, a girl that was at Truman last years who is now in Paris with her family and has offered me a place to stay for several days. At this point, I think I might skip Oktoberfest, because my host in Munich has canceled. Instead, I might go to London and then fly back to France before making my way through Spain. I guess we’ll see. 🙂
La vie est belle, mes amis.