France with Laura – Nice

While we were in France we also visited the pretty city of Nice.  It’s a larger city then I would have thought with a pretty harbor filled with boats of all shapes and sizes, tons of shopping and restaurants and tons of traffic!  Parking in Nice was as difficult as you can imagine and mostly underground through those narrow winding garages that got deeper and deeper under ground till you (hopefully) found a space to put your car.

Here is what I remember… First we were driving on the street looking for parking so we could shop.  The lane we were in was the widest and there was nobody else in it so we were unaffected by the traffic that seemed to be everywhere else.  At some point Laura pointed out that we were in a tram lane and the tram was headed directly for us!  I moved out of that lane and gladly sat in the traffic while my heart slowed back to it’s normal pace.  We decided to park underground as there was just no way we were going to find a space above ground AND parallel park into it so we went down, then we went round and round and finally found a space.  Our car was small, Laura is small, but there was no way to park where both of us would be able to open the doors and get out once we did.  So I had to let Laura out while I parked so there would be enough room on one side of the car to get out – mine!.  There was no way she was going to climb over the gear shift.

We then had to walk up 2 flights of stairs to get to an elevator that took us up the other 4 flights.  By this point we knew we had to take our parking ticket with us to pay before ascending back to our car so I tucked that safely into my purse and we were on our way.  There were tons of shops and the main thoroughfare was blocked off to cars and only had trams and pedestrian traffic.  Before lunch we must have gone into at least 12 shoes stores and 10 lingerie stores and a bunch of other touristy type shops and we were hungry.  The evening before we had eaten dinner by the harbor and the food was AWFUL.  We had been lulled into getting the special “red fish” which was a good deal price wise and local food.  Today we were weary of anything that was even remotely foreign to us.

We found a nice outdoor street cafe and sat down to look over the menu.  We both settled on a seafood salad and some bottled water and felt pretty confident in our choices.  We nibbled on some french bread while waiting for the salads to arrive.  All throughout this trip we had been having issues with finding good/healthy food that we actually like and here we figured we had found a good safe choice.  But when the salads arrived we were no longer convinced.  There were prawns on top and they still had their heads on!  Ewww, it was gross.  I know they have heads but I just never expected to have to look at their funny little eyes staring back at me.

Of course once you got through all that it was actually a pretty decent salad but I think I can speak for both of us when I say we’d rather have our shrimp headless and vainless and never have to have seen the creature in it’s entirety.  Ditto on removing the crab from it’s shell and the pieces of lobster tail from its shell.  Seriously I just wanted my food “finished” before it arrived at the table.  After the meal we were back on the shopping trail hitting as many stores as possible before taking off to Marseille for our last night in France.  I decided this was the time I was going to get myself a french pastry.  They looked so good in the store window and I just HAD to have one for later.  So I went in and got one boxed up.

Laura kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to carry around that pastry box for the rest of the day and couldn’t I just wait to get one in Marseille that night.  I was adamant that I wanted it know and carrying it was no big deal.  So I carried it and we shopped.  We finally go back to the parking lot to get our car and head out in “tout directions”.  There was a line of people paying and milling about the pay station, they seemed to all be unsure of what to do so Laura and I skipped to the front of the line and inserted our ticket.  It came up with the price and while I dug in my purse for change I put the pastry box on top of the machine.  I paid, got my ticket back and we jumped into the elevator to get away from the crowd.  Only I forgot my pastry!  I really, really wanted that damn pastry too!  So we got in the car and drove back up to the street level and I made Laura get out and get the box.  She thought I was out of my mind – maybe I was but it was french chocolate!

Like a sting operation she runs up to the building and fights through the crowd, she grabs the box and then hightails it for the car and jumps in.  The cars are all honking and people are yelling that we have a green light and are holding up the traffic, but in French so really who cared?  We finally found or way out of the city and then proceed to sit in about 2 hours of traffic getting into the downtown area of Marseille.  Whew, we made it only to find the hotel was in the MOST congested area and wanted us to park underground 9again) about 2 blocks away in a garage that had NO elevator.  I had to carry both bags up 4 flights and when I reached the top the wheel on my bag broke!  I had to carry it to the hotel and it was heavy!

View from our hotel room in MarseilleWe checked in and immediately ran to the local department store that was to close in 10 minutes but was only 5 minutes away (as per the hotel clerk).  We didn’t get there in time.  We barely saw Marseille on the way there and back and now we were exhausted.   We wanted to eat, sleep and shower and worry about the bag later.  We went to dinner and refused to eat sensibly – I remember I had macaroni and cheese.  I just couldn’t imagine anyone could screw it up and it was there on the menu so that was what I ate.  It wasn’t Kraft but it was ok.  We went back to the hotel where the clerk fixed the wheel on my luggage (makeshift but will do) and after a shower we settled into bed to watch Grey’s Anatomy in French.  It was then I realized I had left the pastry in the car!

Long story short I ate the pastry the next morning in the airport while waiting for our flight.  We got there way too early in order to be sure not to get lost or hit traffic so I got a cup of coffee, found a bench and ate my battered pastry while Laura did her usual panic routine about flying.  Live was good.

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