Salutations from Nice! (ok, really it's the JFK International Airport, but when I started this post I was in Nice). When Hannah, my little sister, was in first or second grade she wrote a book about me, complete with illustrations. It was called "Unfortunately, Fortunately." The whole plot line was about unfortunate events that came up, and then fortunate events that cancelled them out. Look for it in book stores near you in 2013, it's a must read. This story has a similar plot line.
It was a bit of a hairy process getting here, but we combed our way through it. Due to circumstances I couldn't even begin to justify, Shannon and I missed our train on Saturday morning. No big deal, right? Just persuade them to exchange our tickets, right? Wrong. Because we purchased our tickets online, SNCF, which is what I have taken to be France's department of transportation, couldn't do one smidge of anything to help us out. So, a couple hundred dollars later we each had tickets for the next Nice bound train, which was not scheduled to depart for another 2 hours. Feeling a little bitter, I sat and watched an escalator and lectured myself about anticipating the unexpected.
After being sufficiently chastised by Jiminy Cricket, I remembered that bad things happened to good people all the time. I also realized that more often than not, I can't just shoot a prayer heavenward and expect to pull a miracle out of the microwave two minutes later with my hotpocket. So I whipped out the fruitsnacks and decided to consider it a learning experience and something worth moving past. After all, I couldn't let that little tussle ruin this:
Nice is breathtaking! Mountains, great plant-life,and clear ocean for as far as the eye can see, what more could a person ask for? Awesome pizza? Check, they've got that too! I think my heart belongs here.
We were picked up by our newly adopted host-mom, Colette, at the train station where she was holding a sign with our names on it, just like in the movies. We weaved our way through town in her tiny car to our new home for the week. We each have our own rooms, and mine has a small balcony Check this place out; not too shabby, eh?
After the long day stemming from our unfortunate event, we didn't feel adventurous enough to go out, and instead saved our first Nicois adventure for church on Sunday. We encountered a missionary who was from, are you ready for this? AMERICAN FORK! Ok, well actually he only grew up in American Fork and moved in the seventh grade, but still way cool!
Post church we met up with the group and got a little more oriented. After going non-stop for three weeks in Paris I was up for a week of low key beach life. We climbed up to the outlook, down by the harbor, and through old Nice. Overall it was a great Sunday.
Nice, so very quaint and charming is a must visit for anyone searching for a French Vacation. Anne-Charlotte warned us before we left that the Nicois spoke differently and were harder to understand. I didn't find that hard to believe, as there are times that I have no idea what language people from the South in the U.S. are speaking, when in all actuality it is English. I was delighted to find that I didn't have any more trouble communicating with them than the Parisians.
Our second full day, Monday May 28th we stepped out of France over into Italy! I just have one word to describe it:
Tuesday we had our first day of class, and shockingly enough it was not a chore to go. Our class was composed of an even more diverse group. We had one girl from Botswana, two boys from Brazil, two Saudi Arabians, two Swedes, one boy from the Netherlands, one Italian man, one German woman and myself. My teacher, a sunbathing addict, had the appearance of being dipped in nutella. That afternoon, Shanny-Pack (Shannon), Ariel and I made our way to the beach to take a dip in the Mediterranean.
Our next excursion was the following day. We took the bus and then the train to Eze, France and toured the medieval city, exotic gardens and a perfume factory. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the scents of sprays, soaps, and salves, we decided it was time for dinner. Unbeknownst to us, we would have to hike for an hour and twenty minutes straight downhill before we could find a restaurant (by train the next town over). Did I mention that Ariel, Shannon and I were all wearing skirts? All is well though because along with a worked up appetite, we worked up a great conversation. A discussion of happiness, and what it meant to us. The perspective and interpretation of it was so intriguing to me and I rather enjoyed it.
It came as a surprise to me that happiness was also be the topic of the second half of school the next day. On Thursday we talked about "les petits bonheurs" or simple joys. Class flew by, because if you know me, you know that I love to talk about how to be happy! As soon as we were excused we could hear roller blades calling our names. We made our way down to the beach, rented them and skated for an hour before working on some souvenir shopping. But by some mystery neither Shannon nor I had our cameras, which is a bummer because we had a great time.
The theme for Friday was "Carpe Diem," which is Latin and not French, but it still worked. For our last day in France we went to school (just long enough to get our certificates), then to the market for a last shopping spree. After our lists were all crossed off it was time to hit the beach one last time. As I was floating about in the sea a wave washed not only over me, but into me. My nose was full of salt water and I couldn't breathe for hours afterward. But it's all good, because I look like a healthy human being now rather than the transparent sun-deprived human I was before.
We ended our trip with a night at the opera. Sound glamorous, right? Well it was, up until five minutes in when we realized we must have bought the spa package. We were sitting in a sauna. We were miserable. These ancient opera houses have the most uncomfortable seats (and I even have short legs)! So, we conceded to leave after the first act, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes. That was sufficient for me. To commemorate the end Shannon and I bought one last crepe and walked along the beach then spent the rest of the night packing our bags.
We made sure to be at the train station early this morning, and by this morning I, of course, mean yesterday morning. We rode the train back to Paris, were we took the hot and crowded RER to the airport. After lugging our bags up and down broken escalators a number times I was exhausted, but somehow I survived.
Security was painless, lines were short and I quickly found myself on Flight 121, New York bound. We landed about seven hours later and the rest is history.
Unfortunately we've been sitting here for nine hours, fortunately that means only two more to go!