To Italy with Amore

Does anyone remember August?

The last few weeks have blurred in my mind, repeating an endless cycle of air conditioned nights and hot sandy days. For three weekends, I’ve packed the same bag to a new location just to return each Sunday and melt onto my bed, summoning strength for another Monday morning. IMG_4694But here we are, just days away from September. Sweet, beautiful September with cool breezes and changing leaves. I missed you, little 9th month of the year. After the hurried weekends and hot weeks, the fall has come to save us all. The sun is setting noticeably earlier but no one seems to care. My tan lines remember the summer and I’m all too ready to pull out the light jackets and colorful scarves. 

But suddenly time has stopped. With just four days left in frenetic August I hear each minute, lapping like the Hudson River against the pier. Rhythmic. Unhurried.  I’ve lived the last weekend ten times over. The sands in the hourglass are moving against gravity in slow motion uphill. Four long days before EUROPE. 

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My trip in 2014 felt like the experience of a lifetime. I do not regret a single second of the cities I walked and the people I met. Including this little ladyThe chance to return to Italy and watch Serena marry the love of her life feels like the perfect invitation to dust off my passport and pack a suitcase once again. What’s better than watching love happen in one of the most romantic places on earth? Having someone to share it with. 

I remember walking along the canals of Venice and watching the sunsets in Santorini. I have incredible memories of the pizza in Bologna and the waterfalls in Croatia. I truly believe that anyone who loves to travel should try it alone, at least once, just to experience the true freedom to explore and thrive. But there were moments- on the park bench in Nice and in the colosseum in Rome-where I wished I had someone with me to share it with. There would be no one back home who could reminisce, no one to say “remember when…” during a particularly delicious meal or fortuitous meeting with a stranger. There are times of aloneness when you reach out your hand  and wish someone was there to interlace fingers and squeeze tight. 

This time I’m traveling with a plus one. Finally I have the chance to show him who I am at my best with a guidebook in hand on unfamiliar turf. I will show him the gondolas in Venice and tell him about the Australian sister-brother duo I traveled with through St. Mark’s square. I’ll take him to the pizza place I loved and make him eat gelato at every hour of every day. Together we’ll visit Vienna (for the first time!!) and laugh our way through operas, museums and famed cafes.

And then finalmente, we will take a train across Northern Italy and arrive in Torino to reconnect with two of the loveliest people I’ve ever met for their wedding no less! In the beautiful countryside near the town of Asti surrounded by their friends and family, it’s a dream come true. This time, I will reach out and know someone will take my hand. I’ll squeeze it once, twice, just to make sure he’s real. 

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Strangers on a train

I took the Amtrak train back to New York City yesterday afternoon. In the row ahead, I could see two passengers, one man and one woman, on opposite sides of the train aisle. The man looked to be in his late 50’s. I watched him spit into his hands before running them through his thinning white hair. The woman, possibly in her late 40’s, wore thin reading glasses and had one small suitcase. Periodically, she leaned against the window, eyes focused on the blurred Hudson River rushing by.

As the train pulled into Penn Station, these two strangers began to converse. I overheard the woman was apologizing for her earlier disinterest in speaking with the man. 

“This is my last ride back to the city. I just needed to be alone. To think,” she said. “I’m about to move out West and live with my daughter. It’s a good thing but to think I’ll never live here again…after all these years.” Her voice wavered.

The man leaned into the aisle and rested his arm on his knee. He tried to offer some general words of understanding. The man was visiting his son and mentioned a previous divorce and difficult family relationships. Based on overhearing an earlier phone conversation, I’d gathered that his son or the ex-wife wasn’t willing to pick him up  at the station despite all of his luggage. He had angrily hung up on the anonymous party. Well fine then, I’ll just get a cab. How’s that for convenience? He did not reference the call but spoke generally about the importance of family. Crazy Italian family, he said, over and over. 

As the train doors opened and passengers filed out, the conversation has escalated and the man had begun to cry. He was still speaking, interjecting with “but you know” after each breath, even though I don’t think the woman truly did. 

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A woman leaving her life to be with her child. A man trying to find his way back into a family with uncertain ties. And me, a stranger without a single word of encouragement to offer. 

A day later, I find myself thinking of these two characters who chose to share a little of themselves on a crowded train  I wonder about the type of people who easily open up to admit sadness and fear. Are they judged by their peers? Do they care? I admire their ability to let go. That sort of open confession has never been my way. Maybe I’m blind to the world, my world, as it is and as it should be. But maybe I don’t want to know. 

But recently, even without asking, I’ve received lots of advice and unwanted opinions. Humans are so quick to judge, to sum up a person’s complicated parts into one lump sum. They  offer up opinions as if  they were gifts to be treasured and obeyed. We forgot what it feels like to be on the receiving end of such “gifts”.

Listening to the voice inside one’s own head becomes harder and harder to hear above the fray. 

I want the courage to open up despite unknown reactions and unkind truths. I want to admit fear and distrust in my own decisions. And I should also stop giving advice so freely without a second to understand the weight of my thoughts on the hearts of others. Our words should be groomed, fed and well-tended before they are released from the gates into the outside world beyond. 

Perhaps, dear reader, we can try to be brave together. We can open up a little and let the world know that sometimes we don’t have all the answers. We have not figured IT out. The unknown can be beautiful too. 

Talk to a stranger on a train. Maybe I’ll sit next to you. And we can practice letting go together.

 

 

Home for the Thanks Giving

I’m not entirely sure I should be allowed to have time off. As soon as vacation begins, my brain drains out through my ears and I become incapable of doing anything productive. I woke up yesterday at the beginning of my six day respite from the office and did the following:

  • IMG_3855Watched Sesame Street, not ironically. (Still a great show).
  • Watched Live with Kelly and Michael. (Still a bad show).
  • Read an Jane Evanovich book in one sitting. For a fun drinking game in reading Love Overboard, drink every time you see the words kissing, pirate’s blood, and rip those panties to shreds.
  • Cried on a bus while listening to a This American Life episode.
  • Floss. (Teeth hygiene is very important).

I’m also sniffling. My head feels swollen and my nose won’t stop running. This fun bodily development began yesterday morning, probably as a common symptom of “leisure sickness.” My parents’ house envelops me with home cooked meals, free laundry services and soft couches. The energy I use daily to make trains and speed walk along crowded sidewalks has all but evaporated. All that remains is a sweatpants-wearing version of myself who uses all her physical effort just to pour a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. 

In the spirit of giving thanks, I’d like to raise a glass to every parent and family member who generously welcomes home their 20-something hapless children who eat their food and spread various belongings across every room, offering nothing in return except dirty laundry and a sheepish smile. If you’re lucky, they might even tell you about their life before hoping in the car and trying to rekindle old high school relationships.

Thank you.

Home

I don’t know the formula for creating a Home. I don’t know how long it takes for an apartment, a familiar street or a city to move beyond the physical to the comfortable and the safe. There are hooks near the door where I hang my keys. But those hooks could be anywhere, on any wall, waiting for any keys to give their existence purpose. 

A man yelled profanities from his seat on the 6 train, heading downtown. He wore socks, no shoes, and had draped an American flag towel over his face and body. I couldn’t see his face but I imagined the world from his eyes, light and blurred movement from the other side of his cotton curtain. The repetition of his words-such angry words-scarred me and I hurried off the train, leaving my high heels behind. I was going home. Was he? 

Nostalgia as a Home. At brunch on Sunday, I sat across from three people who I’ve known and loved since I was 16 years old. Each of them are living dramatically different lives from the nights of summer bonfires and drive-in theaters. We don’t speak often, me and these three people, but time melted with each cup of steaming coffee until I saw them again as the people who knew me best. Despite all those years. I left the restaurant and felt a sense of longing as if I’d forgotten something but couldn’t remember what it was. Shoes on a train. 

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As migrants and refugees continue to bleed over the borders of their own lands into a watercolor of checkpoints and fading hope, I wonder about Home. Leaving Home. I imagine these people saying goodbye to every familiar Home they have ever known. Will the immune system of foreign government accept or reject these transplants? 

As long as they have each other…I traveled soundly knowing my parents were thinking about me, were wondering about me, were keeping my Home safe inside their love.

“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together… and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming Home… only to no home I’d ever known… I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like… magic.”

Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks), Sleepless in Seattle

On my daily commute, I see the same people sitting on the same sidewalk and standing near the same Starbucks entrance with their cardboard signs. I see them every morning having left my apartment for the day’s activities. I wonder about these people, wonder about their definition of Home. I do not pretend for a moment to imagine how it must feel to lack a roof over my head or a space to unwind from the world. A private place to call my own. Nor do I know the stories of these people as they kept their eyes focused on the ground in front of them.

Homesick (def): the sickness caused by the perceived lack of or longing for Home. We have a human understanding to help those who suffer from such an illness, never knowing when we might fall victim to such a disease. 

Always Have Your Next Trip in Mind

Nick’s travel website is almost live. He’s patiently waited for me to finish editing the first round of pieces for the Katelyn “stamp of approval.” I believe all forms of the website and various social media outlets should be ready in the coming week. Stay tuned…

Over the previous month, I’d had many conversations about travel. Lorenzo, the Italian stud, is jetting off to Greece to sail a boat with his friends for two weeks. John & his fiancee are planning an 8 month backpacking voyage through Southeast Asia after their wedding in October. There are bachelor parties in NOLA and romantic adventures to California. It seems everyone is coming and going to exciting new places. 

While playing in the waves on the Jersey Shore, Brian asked me if I had any trips planned. What was up next on the bucket list? Anything more immediate than quitting (again) for a trip through Asia? I was embarrassed to tell him…no. During my summer weekends I’ve escaped the oppressive city heat for Lake George or Connecticut but nothing big was planned on the horizon. No PTO scheduled, not since New Orleans. Brian and I both seemed lost in the schedule of our own little lives and it wasn’t until the ferry home that I heard my father’s voice entering my brain.

Always have your next trip in mind. 

How had I forgotten this essential Tsukada rule? The next trip is as reliable as the horizon. And like the horizon, those distant mountains or island speck may be far away, but the goal is visible and the path is clear. The question is a matter of “when” not “if” thereby making the next great adventure all the more attainable. There is a defined reason to save up pennies and research new attractions. It is this knowledge of the Next Trip and accompanying opportunity to leave a routine that is the most enticing feeling I know. 

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And so Boyfriend Billy and I going to Nashville, Tennessee. 

The reasons are fairly straight forward. It’s closer than the west coast in an area of the country we’ve never seen. There is a culture of Southern hospitality, authentic music and good food. In recent years, Nashville has exploded in a flurry of hipster coffee, restaurants and have yet to raise their prices to those of other major tourist destinations. With a round trip ticket for under $300, Nashville seemed like the perfect place for the Next Trip. 

My Inbox is bulging with airline and hotel reservations, to-do lists and recommendations from friends. We’ll each be taking three (yes three!) days off of work to maximize time away from the grinding 9-6pm. All of a sudden, I looked up from the sidewalk and realized that the horizon was a whole lot closer than I’d originally thought. September 23rd will be here before I know it. 

So do it, friend. And I don’t mean buy an airplane ticket or quit your job. I mean, pick a place where you’d like to go and make sure it’s clearly embedded in your mind’s horizon. Because you may not know when you’ll get there, but someday has to come around eventually. 

The Fear of Maintaining Authenticity

A college friend contacted me a couple of months ago. Nick was interested in starting a travel website and wanted some guidance. He had a full-time job, friends and a social life in Washington, D.C. This was just something he felt passionately about and he wanted some support.

Naturally, there are tons of travel websites and blogs on the Internet. Every day, it seems another person is backpacking around the world and telling a story about it. Nick had some good ideas about building readership, generating new blogs and keeping topics relevant to a subset of the 18-30 year population. But there was this nagging fear in both his mind and mine. How would his travel website be different from all the other content out there? What made his idea unique?

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I often worry about being unique or “maintaining authenticity” in my day to day activities. I want to write my own words, dance my own movement, and form a new career that only I could have achieved. It scares me to think that I’m being influenced by others–peers, parents, those who have come before, and those whose voices seem to be the loudest–to choose differently than my “authentic” self would do.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Think outside the box. Make a statement. Take a stand.

As a sophomore in college, I choreographed my first dance piece. I promised myself that I would create all the movement on my own without any outside influence. I didn’t want to copy others or steal another’s creative work. This would be all mine.

The piece sucked. It was disjointed and lacked continuity between movement and transitions. The dancers didn’t seem to fully understand the message I was trying to get across and I can’t blame them for their confusion. Instead of learning from the dance masters and borrowing from the greats, I tried to build a masterpiece from nothing. That was when I learned the value of imitation. The Martha Grahams and Alvin Aileys of the world knew what they were doing as did my college professionals I took class from every day. I needed to practice and mimic and study those who came before. You cannot break the rules until you know them. 

Currently at work, I’ve been struggling again. There are successful salesmen (all men for the time being) who have learned the company and have mastered their art of finding clients and closing deals. I was adamant about doing it my own way without bowing down or admitting to needing their help. Pride perhaps? Fear? Maybe a little of both. But these are the people who will give me options and present me with techniques. I must try on their methods in order to decide which one fits best before designing one of my own. 

In starting his own website, Nick must read other websites, understand the market, and learn what boosts online traffic. In the beginning, he should imitate the professionals and learn from their knowledge before forging out on his own. Nick’s travel website is going to be unique because it comes from Nick* and no one else.

* If you’ve ever taken a road trip, travel for work, or studied abroad (and considered writing about it), contact me! Nick is very excited and driven but it can’t happen without support from others who are willing to share their own view of the world. xoxo

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Confusion in Numbers

I spent the last ten days on the Greek island of Santorini, exactly six more days that I had originally planned. My trip was partly delayed due to the black sand beaches and the perfect weather. The connecting ferry to Turkey only ran three times a week and Thursday became Sunday, which became Tuesday all too fast. But my trip was also delayed because of the incredible group of travelers I met during my stay. This group of people seemed to be as captivated by the island as we were with one another and we spent every waking moment enjoying this little slice of paradise together.P1050189

The group, composed of Canadians, Australians, Germans, Philippinas, Haitians, Spanish, Greeks, Colombians, Indians and Americans, all shared a love of travel. And in this love, we also shared a mutual desire for some change from our lives back home. Three women (including myself) quit their jobs to travel alone. One woman spent a month in a meditation retreat and an Australian girl longed to return to Santorini instead of attending university in the fall. Chanae, the person I met in Athens and followed to the island, hadn’t been back to Australia in almost two years and had no clear date for returning home. I felt as if we were all searching for something–an answer perhaps–without clearly defining the questions at hand.  

Some travelers want to see the world. For them, the questions are simple: “How can I travel forever?” or “How can I increase my maximum vacation time?” But for others, I think the search is much less defined. Will I find someone to love me? What should I do with the rest of my life? These questions will not be found within stamped passport pages or months overseas. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try. P1050161

One evening, I found myself wandering the streets of Oia before meeting up with the group for the famous sunset. The day had been full of sightseeing and my skin was tight under a layer of sea salt and sweat from my morning swim and afternoon hike. I was dehydrated and my legs threatened to give out as I trudged up a rocky path to get a better view of the coast. 

P1050437Down the hill and to the right, I spotted a car. It had been unoccupied for quite some time based on the model and the thick layer of rust underneath the faded blue paint. No wheels remained and someone has piled large rocks onto the driver’s seat and under the hood. On the back left end of the car in scratched white lettering, the words What is life? had been written. P1050438I sat in the fading light of the Santorini sun for a long time staring out to sea and contemplating the words of the car. I thought about this new group of friends: our morning yoga during the sunrise on Perissa Beach and the nights spent comparing cultures over wine and ouzo shots. I thought about my imminent move to New York City and my undefined relationships with people back home. I thought about the pressure I put on my European exploration to conquer some great internal unknown I had yet to identify.

P1050267Despite my desire to travel alone, I secretly craved a community of people who loved exploring the world as much as I did. I wanted to find others who would rather shoulder a backpack and book a flight than map out their next logical career path. And in every hostel in every country, I found those such people. They, like the car, didn’t have the answers to life’s big questions either. And that was something…

For I’d rather spend time contemplating the meaning of life with equally confused people than trying to figure it out all alone. P1050150

 

Bardonecchia and Italian Friends

What if I got a job as a receptionist at a hostel? I think while riding the train from Levanto to Turin, watching the changing Italian landscape outside my window. All the employees I’ve met seem so cheerful and young. One Canadian now living in Belgium used to work Saturday and Sunday evenings in a hostel in Naples. He said the job consisted of letting people in who forgot their keys and watching Gilmore Girls’ reruns. I could totally do that. I imagine myself greeting weary travelers with a smile and a map. I would recommend the best restaurants with the cheapest prices and circle key areas “not to be missed” on their stay. Young people helping young people sharing a mutual zest for life and adventure. Wonder if it would pay the bills… 

This next section of my trip (Bardonecchia, Turin) would not be possible without the kindness and generosity of one person who I met while working and living in Massachusetts. Lorenzo, originally from Turin, became an amazing travel advisor while I was planning my trip and set me up with the best train travel websites, maps, and tips for his home country. He went so far as to introduce me to some of his friends still living in Italy who offered their time and couches for me to stay.  So by the time I arrive in Turin, I already have a lunch date planned with a cheerful young woman who will quickly become a dear friend. May I introduce…Miss Serena.P1030131

I meet Serena outside the train station and she recognizes me instantly with my array of maps, backpacks and confused expression. She welcomes me with well-spoken English and highlights important parts of Turin as I try to keep up with her surefooted steps. We go to a local restaurant near her work and I scarf down focaccia-style pizza surrounded by other Italians grabbing a quick pranzo (lunch). After introductions, Serena invites me to stay with her and her family in Bardonecchia, a beautiful mountain village in the Alps with slopes that hosted the snowboard events for the 2006 Olympics and views that would take anyone’s breath away. Naturally, I say yes.

P1030117Early the next morning, I set out to buy a gift for Serena’s parents before making my way to the train station. With a little help from my Lonely Planet guide book the night before, I have decided on some sweets from Baratti & Milano, a famous chocolate shop originating in Turin back in 1858. The shop looks far but not too far so I finish my morning blog and make my way to the designated piazza…which is much father than expected. I make a hurried selection, drop my map in a frenzy and speed walk to the train station sweaty and out of breath. 

[I wish I could say that as I spend more time traveling in Europe, I learn to avoid frantically running along narrow streets through crowded cities in order not to miss a bus or train. Sadly, this will not be the case. See: Levanto, Venice, all of Croatia, really any time I have to go somewhere.] IMG_0913

Bardonecchia is located on the border of Italy and France in the northern Piedmonte region. It is both a summer and winter destination for extreme skiers and sunny August afternoons in the Alps. The air here is sweet and the water is refreshingly pure. After I arrive at the station, Serena and I take a walk through the wooded countryside and through the main downtown, past a small church and yellow shops with wooden shutters and tiled roofs. Then begins the eating. Serena brings me on a continuous Italian food tour to make sure my mouth has tasted as much of the culture as my eyes have already seen. P1030132

We wait in line at the bakery Ugetti for one of the famous krapfen pastries (German for donut) that’s served hot from the oven and oozing with apricot jam. Feeling slightly thirsty, we hop across the street to the market for a four pack of EstaTEA, the juice box of Italy and the American version of a CapriSun/Nestle Tea. For dinner, the whole family goes out for pizza and I get my first taste of deliciously melted buffalo mozzarella with a simple tomato sauce on a crispy crust. By the time evening comes, I get the best night sleep I’ve had in weeks and wake to a full breakfast of Italian pastries, yogurt and steaming hot espresso. Before getting back on the train, Serena encourages me to get a coffee granita, a combination of espresso, shaved ice, and whipped creme. It has the consistency of clouds and tastes like heaven. I decide I never want to leave this mountain oasis but Serena already has many more things for me to see (and taste) back in Torino. 

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Krapfen = The BEST pastry
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Thirst quenching

"Coffee Ice"

Cinque star review: Cinque Terre

Happy Anniversary WordPress! Today the darling blogging website & I are celebrating our 4 year anniversary. Together we have traveled the world, gone through periods of neglect and apologizes, and decided to tie the knot when I purchased my very own web domain name. Thank you, dear WordPress, for always standing by my side and giving me the confidence to send my words out into the big wide Interwebs.

Cinque Terre

I’ve wanted to go to Cinque Terre (Five Lands) for years. I remember putting it at the top of my list four years ago when I decided not to go to Italy during my two week travel break while studying abroad. I will save that country and that trip for another day. And when that day finally came, I couldn’t have been more ready. P1020989

Cinque Terre has gained popularity with American tourists in the past couple of years. My friend’s Italian boyfriend asked me at dinner why people are so obsessed with these coastal towns and I didn’t have a good answer. Maybe because the hiking is amazing. Maybe because pictures of these villages are all over the Internet. Or maybe it’s because when someone goes there, he or she cannot stop talking about the visit for months. Either way, it was a must see destination for me and it should be for you too. P1030072

The coast is comprised of five villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore. I stayed in Levanto, the next town over from Monterosso and found it extremely easy to take the train there and back. A variety of trails crisscross the mountainous coast connecting all five villages as well as the train system for those who don’t want to trek on foot. Landslides in the last year or two destroyed some of the popular coastal trails and the main route connecting Corniglia and Riomaggiore through Manarola is still closed to the public. Still there is no bad trail since every path and series of steps lead to amazing views overlooking the Ligurian Sea. P1030026

IMG_0877If you are going during high season, be prepared for many MANY people. The morning trains are the best because they are pretty empty and run on time. By the afternoon, the trains are 20-40 minutes delayed and each car is jam packed with people. But it’s worth it. Since many people opt to use the trains, the trails are pretty clear and there are so many options beside the coastal route that weave up into the hills. The beaches are very popular too and something I would have loved to enjoy if I had stayed more days.

With just 3 nights and 2 days, these were my top six favorite things:

  • Watching the sunset from the water in Riomaggiore
  • Eating fried fish at Il Pescato Cucinato (more than once)
  • The difficult yet short (1 hour) mountain hike from Manarolo to Riomaggiore
  • Grabbing ice cream at Alberto Gelateria in Corniglia
  • Taking millions of pictures in Manarolo
  • Getting wildly lost walking from Monterosso to Levanto

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P1030018My favorite part of blogging used to be writing about one thought or one event. My words were focused on trying to pull out one idea that was bouncing around in my head and make it bounce around on the page. Now I have a zillion bouncing thoughts all at once. I spend 48 hours with just one or two people before jumping on a train not knowing if or when I’ll ever see them again. I download hundreds of pictures to my computer every day before planning my next destination and booking my next hostel. It’s amazing and crazy and a 24/7 adventure. 

But maybe I can slow down life just a little bit. Give descriptions of just one day or just one person. Because I’ve found the people and the individual fleeting moments have made this trip unforgettable. 

 

Highlights of Nice, France

Nice, France Highlights:

Due to the large Catholic holiday on August 15th, I decided to hunker down and spend a whole week in the coastal city of Nice. I would only recommend that much time if you are in the mood to relax and enjoy the weather, casino and local bars. Considering it was the beginning of my trip, I didn’t want to spend most of my days lying on the beach but still found fun things to do while I was there.P1020718

Vieux Ville- The “old city” in English, this was my favorite part of Nice. I walked through narrow streets filled with small cafés, souvenir stands and specialty shops selling Provence lavender, soaps and artisanal cookies. The gelato and pizza stands were outnumbered only by the tourists that shuffled along the cobblestones with cameras in hand. At the center, the streets opened up to reveal a large open market. In the morning, the stalls are filled with fresh fruit, vegetables and fish. In the evening, the food is replaced by watercolor paintings, purses and jewelry for sale. The perimeter of the square is lined with restaurants and outdoor tables under awnings boasting the freshest fish and cheapest wine. 

Beach- Crowded and pebbly. I would recommend waiting until evening, picking up a cheap bottle of wine and finding a spot on the shore to watch the sunset.P1020807

Matisse and Archaeological Museum- Not only are both museums free, they are necessary stops in this French city. The Matisse museum is well situated in the middle of a large garden, perfect for picnics and dog walkers. I spent about an hour in the museum looking at the Matisse collection before heading over to the Archaeological Museum to see stone ruins of ancient Roman baths as well as the smallest Greco-Roman amphitheater, well persevered next to the museum’s entrance. Near these two museums is another church with beautiful botanic gardens and an expansive view of the city. P1020794

Main Square and Fountains- The main center is perfect for families with children. The wide network of water jets are built into the ground and erupt without warning, shooting plumes of water high into the sky, disappearing as quickly as they come. Kids can also plan in the massive jungle gyms shaped like water creatures located to the east on the way toward the contemporary art museum (also free). I spent over an hour writing on a park bench, listening to the sounds of splashing feet and high pitched giggling. P1020708

Park- I found a large patch of green in the northwest corner of my Nice map. Feeling adventurous, I somewhat skillfully navigated the network of local buses and made my way to the center of supposed patch of wilderness. My excitement in finally finding the location was replaced with disappointment finding the gates closed with a sign indicating the park was closed for the entire month of August. No one in Italy works in August including the wilderness.

[Finally, my French blogs are done. Next stop: Italy!]