Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day 1: Nice diary - Cote d' Azur

It is 10:30 pm in Nice, and I am nursing a slight headache.  I think it was the 3rd glass of Le Vin that did me in.

July marks the beginning of the conference season, which brings me to the French Riviera for the gathering of European's brightest in the medicinal chemistry field.  Leaving my 2 kids (and hubby) was extremely hard for me given how young Maya still is, so I didn't particularly look forward to meeting THE Queen of the Riviera, Nice (pronounced 'niece').

My dear husband was supposed to come with me for a short quality time together while my in-laws look after the kids, but our little tyrants sweet young children made it clear that it was not going to happen this year. In hindsight, I am glad hubby has stayed home with the kiddos.  With Maya still so small, I am at ease that at least one of us is home with her. But here I am, and it is quite nice indeed to meet you, Nice.
Before I left, Tamar asked me to bring Mr. Toutou on the airplane. Eric insisted that I leave him so that I don't lose M.T. However, when I told Tamar that I will bring her octopus instead, she cried and pleaded that I bring Mr. Toutou. So, how could I not? Amelie, meet your precious gnome's competition.

Monsieur Toutou
I arrived in Nice after an uneventful flight, and went straight to my hotel at the Promenade des Anglais.  I could have taken a cab. After all, I wasn't paying for the trip. But I decided that taking the bus is more practical and fun. As the bus 'coasted' along the promenade, the blue coast, Côte d'Azur, greeted me with its brilliant hued water and wonderful breeze.  I threw the pity party out the bus window right there and then.   
And I first saw the Sea!
The Sea!
The bright colored Sea!
Mile after mile in the fresh afternoon breeze.

My hotel is along the Promenade des Anglais. Across the street is the mediterranean sea. I checked in and rushed out the door to take the tram to the Acropolis, where the conference is being held. I drank and schmoozed with the European scientists about the fantastic science (Sorry, can't talk about it here) coming out of the region, then it was time for some relaxation.

Place de Massena, where you can pick up the tram

Chilin' like a villain

I walked along the promenade by the beach, then after a while, I just sat down and stared into La Baie des Anges or the Bay of Angels as they call it.  I've always been magnetized by the ocean. Eventhough I've never been here before, it feels so familiar.  Could it be because it's in my blood?

But that Sea! That Sea!
That light Sapphire Sea!

I have to confess, the pebble beach didn't really have that much allure to me.  How comfortable can it be to lie down in that with just a towel beneath you? I can't imagine it is. You can rent a chair, but for me, I prefer the powdery sand. Either the white or the black volcanic sand is better than pebbles.

After a while, I walked to the west side to Hotel Negresco, Nice's finest hotel, which is also now a historic monument, and boasts of 16,309-crystal chandelier. I didn't count to confirm. This chandelier was built for the Russian czar's Moscow palace, but because of the Bolshevik Revolution, it was never delivered.

Soon I realized that it was 9 pm already and I have not had anything to eat since breakfast.  I looked for the restaurant La cave de l'origine which came highly recommended by my guidebook, but when I got there, it looked pretty stuffy and not too friendly.  I decided to skip it and look for some place more enticing. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a warm little bistro, Le bistrot de l'atelier.  Their vegetables were so fresh and delicious, and Le vin rosé was divine, and the staff really friendly (and forgiving of my French).  I later found out that this is a new place.  You wouldn't know it from how efficiently they worked.

To top the day off, I went and had this chocolate hazelnut gelato. It was like eating cold ferrero rocher. Bonne nuit!

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