Friday, June 11, 2010
Day 2: Exploring Nice
I woke up much later than I had intended; I guess that 48 hours passing with only 3 hours of sleep finally caught up to me. I missed breakfast at the hostel, so I quickly showered and prepared for the day. The first item on my agenda: getting a cell phone. After surveying four stores, I realized all prepaid phones are 29 euros in Nice, and purchased one. My number (from the states) is 0033 666 22 80 51. I then headed to the beach, in the hopes of finding my friends who had left before me. I was almost blown over several times; the wind was blowing at least 40 mph and the beach was subsequently closed. After walking along the boardwalk for a while, I decided to head up to the “chateau.” On a hill right above the old city, a chateau was erected, and the area was considered the center of the city. In the 8th century, war destroyed the chateau, and it hasn’t been rebuilt since. What is left is a beautiful view of the city and the Mediterranean, some parks, an artificial waterfall, and several cemeteries, including a sizeable Jewish cemetery. I walked around here for probably 2 hours.
I then headed back down to the city, ready to move on. While walking to the tram stop, I ran into my friends Anna, Brian and Justin. Our encounter, though, was short, as they were headed back to the hostel and I was not. After getting on the wrong bus and then the right one, I began on my way to the Musée Matisse. It is a small museum with a small collection of Matisse’s paintings, and a sizeable collection of his sculptures. It was perfect: not crowded or overwhelming, just calm and easy to ingest.
After the museum, I quickly perused some Roman era ruins, a large temple mostly. I waited for the bus for a few minutes, and decided I could walk just as easily. I walked down the hill, bought a baguette and Camembert cheese, and continued walking, unfortunately in the wrong direction. After losing the bus line I wanted, and straying far from the Chagall museum—my planned destination—I walked through some gorgeous upscale neighborhoods. Everything is so close in Nice, it’s hard to tell what’s an apartment and what’s a villa. I then found my bus, waited fifteen minutes for it, took it four stops, and realized it was going the wrong direction. At least I’m consistent. I righted my wrong, and finally got to the shuttle pickup for the hostel. It’s only a 10 minute walk from the tram stop to the hostel, but it’s straight up hill, so the hostel keeps a shuttle going each morning and evening.
Worn out, I plunked myself down outside with my computer. I sent out some emails, looking for a place to stay in the upcoming days, and called my mom. I then joined my friends in the bar/common room. Over a bottle of mediocre rosé we waited for dinner. When it was time, we ordered our dinners; either turkey with pasta or pizzas made to order. Very delicious, and only five euros. During dinner I discovered that Garth Bowden, an artist in south-western France had contacted me, offering me a place to stay and meals in exchange for extra hands around the house and in his studio. I quickly cancelled my last night at the hostel, hoping to stay in Carcassonne, a medieval town near Garth’s house where he’ll pick me up Saturday morning. We spent the rest of the night in the common room, playing cards and drinking wine til about 1:30.