Nice, France: A Picture Look

I left you, dear reader, in my room back in Nice wondering how I was going to embrace my solo journey. The following day (and every day since) I met new people who were nothing but warm, welcoming and world travelers. I have a lot to learn from each of these people. 

Since I am heading off to bed after many hours of attempted planning for a reasonable way to get from Venice to Croatia, I’m afraid my brain is a mess of ferry schedules and hostel names. But due to my increased access to the power of Wi-Fi, I thought it was only fair that I pass along a couple of Nice beach pictures to satisfy any desires to view the sunny perfect coast of southern France. 

P1020724 P1020751 I met this lovely gentlemen Stefan while eating my very French “salad Niçoise” in sandwich form, which is to say all the deliciousness of the salad packed together between two large slices of thick spongey bread. Both of us had independently sought out the shade to escape the Nice sun and eat our little meals in silence. My friendly comment about our similar sandwiches started an entire conversation leading to a guided tour and gelato treat. Stefan lives and teaches in Germany where he is a French professor. He has family and friends in the area and has visited Nice consistently for over 15 years. He wasn’t very comfortable speaking English so we conversed in French and I did my best to channel every verb, noun, and other phrase from my high school vocabulary. We were patient with each other and I got a tour of the city I never would have received otherwise. In this particular photo, Stefan has requested a candid shot. I have absolutely no idea what we were trying to convey…but if confusion was our end goal, I would say we succeeded quite well. P1020744 The harbor. Down to the left you can make out smaller boats behind the sailboats in the water. A closer picture from the shoreline shows off the color and detail of these adorable water navigators. It’s a stark contrast from the number of large ferries taking passengers to Corsia and Sardinia every day. 

P1020823See how cute they are?
P1020828All the beaches in Nice are made of pebbles, otherwise known as smooth rocks. In my humble opinion, sand here is incredibly under appreciated  although the stones do make a pleasant sound as they tumble over one another pulled by the receding waves. 


[Where in the world is Katelyn update: I am currently in a hotel in Torino (Turin) having arrived in what is fast becoming my favorite city so far. I arrived this morning from Cinque Terre having the most incredible two days. Pictures and details to follow.]

How Nice It Can Be

I think it’s the only time I will be able to say, 

Oh France? Yeah, it was a last-minute decision.

P1020678And it was. Jesse, one of Sandeep’s friends, had recently spent a weekend in Nice and spoke fondly of the beaches and sights in Côte d’Azur. From her description and the location, the southern coast of France seemed like a perfect place to visit before heading east into Italy for cobblestone streets, pizza and espresso. Booking a train and a hostel online the night before however, proved to be seemingly impossible but after some hair pulling and a very expensive 1st class ticket, I was headed to Nice.

I spent the majority of the train ride watching the landscape blur past my window. The rusty-red soil in France quickly replaced the fertile Swiss ground and trees withering under the coastal sun seemed seasons away from the cool and windy Alps just hours before. As we passed Marsailles, I spotted large white yachts floating in the ocean and sunbathers scattered along the shore. It was then that I realized the challenge of my first solo city adventure, a place many diehard backpackers try their hardest to avoid—high seasonP1020687

I arrived in Nice, tired and slightly disoriented. The streets, tourists, and general buzz outside the train station had none of the reserved order of Geneva’s downtown. I walked past restaurants boasting a variety of cuisines in bright neon lights and jostled my backpack between the crowds of couples, families and travelers on the sidewalk. A flurry of young travelers filled the hostel with laughter and bottles of beer as I checked in. I hurriedly dropped off my bag and found my way to the ocean, illuminated by lights from restaurants, casinos and freshly lit cigarettes. High-rise apartments and hotels stretched as far as I could see while a bloated orange moon floated slowly above the din. Does can a person feel so lonely in a crowd of people?

I sat on a bench and watched Nice pass by: shirtless joggers, women in high heels and miniskirts, families and groups of college-aged friends. The challenge of navigating this new city seemed suddenly quite overwhelming and I watched the moon rising, wondering what I was doing on a trip to Europe so utterly alone.

Notice the leaning tower of Pisa eating pizza in the bottom right corner.

I returned to my room to find the five empty beds occupied with a group of young college students traveling from Taiwan. The organizer of the trip described their travels and showed me his scrapbook filled with cutout maps and miniature drawing. One girl joined the conversation to fill in place names and smiles in halting English while the other girl offered me orange slices as we sat in a circle on the floor. The young man had traveled about a month by himself before meeting up with his friends and I asked him if he ever got lonely on the road. “Sometimes,” he admit, “but when you are alone you can…go deeper in the culture and in yourself.”

His words couldn’t have been more true or come at a better time.