Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Luries Go To France: days one and two

I was thinking about how lucky I am that my mother in law (wow, I have one those now!) gave me a travel journal before we left on our honeymoon. It has a soft brown leather cover and a multi colored cotton tie around it. I love it so much and it actually encouraged me to journal every day of our trip to the south of France. So, before I do the wedding round up, I will recap our vacation a couple days at a time with photos and my journal entries. Reader Beware: My journaling focuses heavily on the food we ate.

Day One. Today (Wednesday July 22nd) we arrived in the Nice Cote D'Azur airport at 8 in the morning. It was a long trip and we were exhausted. What an absolutely amazing weekend we had and now we're finally here in France. After our bus ride to the hotel (four euros for a 20 minute ride on the #98-cheap!) we dropped our bags at the hotel and were left to wonder around old town while our room at the Beau Rivage was prepared. we started by wondering down Rue St. Francois De Paule, the street our hotel is on, towards Cours Saleya. "Vieux Nice" is full of well reviewed restaurants, small sweets shops and an amazing market, the Cours Saleya. We saw the flower stalls first, amazing plants and flowers everywhere. As we continued along, the flower stalls turned to piles of sundried tomatoes, lavender sachets, dried herb fins and marinated olives. I grabbed a green olive tapenade and three euros of black olives for later. There was also a ton of produce which we plan to go back for. The beefsteak tomatoes were so huge, it was our of control.

We wandered toward a cafe in our delirious state and it ended up being Au Pain Quotidien, a place I wanted to check out. There were long wooden tables and a windy staircase down to the toilets, where tile gave way to exposed stone behind the stalls. We ordered cafe au lait and a basket of bread with three different jams for spreading. We sat and talked about the wedding and our friends and family and then headed toward the promenade des anglais to quickly see the beach before we headed back to old town. There were so many things to see and places to stop. We found L'Art Gourmand and picked up some macaroons. I grabbed some gifts at the very charming boutique Berenice & Eglantine. They had herbs, fleur de sel, tea and oils that all came in glass test tubes with stoppers. After all this wondering, including an ill fated attempt to get Socca (chickpea pancake) at Chez Theresa, we were near delirious. I picked up an avocado gelato at Fenocchio and we strolled back to the hotel to check in. After a quick nap and a teeny bit of European MTV, we headed our to dinner. We chose Lou Pistou which we gather must usually be busy but tonite it was just the two of us and a japanese tourist. We started with ratatouille and some wine and for dinner I got beef with tomato marinade and fresh pasta while Dan got breaded scallops and fresh pasta with tomato sauce. It was all delicious and the woman who worked there was so pleasant and helpful. Dan kept eating long after I was full because he wanted to "remember the taste of the food." we ended our long day with a beer at a street side cafe and a little people watching. It was a remarkable first day of our honeymoon. we couldn't stop talking about how fun the wedding was and how awesome it is that we're here in Nice.

Day Two. Today was big beach day. We'd been waiting to go to "la plage" and swim in "la mer" for so long! We went to the Beau Rivage Plage after a stop at the cafe down the street for an early morning cup of coffee and grabbing some pastries at the boulangerie. Most of the day was spent swimming and sun bathing.

After a quick clean up at the hotel we headed to Lou Pilha Leva in old town for Socca, Farcis Salad and un demi carafe of white wine. We wondered around after our meal and relaxed a bit until we headed over to Place Massena. We attempted to do some shopping at Galleries Lafayette (the big department store) but it was closed so we settled instead for beers from the Monoprix (chain grocery store sort of like Fred Meyer) and watching Les Boules Finale (boules is sort of like bocce). Dan took about 50 pictures of a man he kept referring to as "The best boules player in the world" however, this was never verified. It was getting late so we left the game and strolled over to 22 Septembre for dinner. We shared grilled goat cheese on lettuce to start and I had chicken in a mushroom sauce with saffron rice for my entree. After our meal, our waiter came by with verbena infused liqueur for us to try and it was awesome. On the way back to our hotel we decided to grab a glass of wine at Resto Wine Notes. While finishing our glasses, this hilariously drunk woman and her male companion came up and sat beside us. The woman started speaking to us as they ordered their drinks but when their wine came the man took one sip, declared it too "corky" and took off. The woman stayed and told us how she loved living in Nice and how her and her daughters had moved their 15 years ago. As she spoke, she held her hand rolled cigarette firmly between two fingers even though it had long gone out and she occasionally would ask us for a light even though we continued to remind her that we didn't smoke. At the end of our conversation (and our drinks) she walked us to an alley way to show us what she called a sign of old Nice. A wooden door where a drawing of a man standing in a barrel was stamped into the cement doorway. Supposedly a sign of the wine merchant that use to do business there. We said "au revoir" and headed back to our hotel to pass out. On our way we talked about how awesome and special encounters like that are. Completely unique to traveling abroad.

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