Wednesday, July 01, 2009

European Adventures: Part 3...The French Riviera

As a graduation present, my aunt and uncle took us for a weekend in Nice, if England wasn't amazing enough. I have been to Paris for one day 5 years ago. It was really cool to see the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, but I really didn't know what to expect from Nice. I knew it was the capital of the French Riviera and a popular resort destination for the wealthy people. Maybe that's why I had always distanced myself from it...possibly because I never really saw this one coming.

I was really excited about going and had really high expectations. There is great danger when you set yourself up like that because things never seem to measure up to what you dreamed it would be. Let me just say that weekend in Nice was beyond my wildest imagination! It exceeded my expectations a million-fold. It was the most incredible vacation I have ever been on, second only to my time in Greece. TRES MAGNIFIQUE!!!

It has taken me this long just to process the whole thing. Every moment felt like some kind of fairytale dream...from the moment we got into a taxi at the airport to the moment we arrived back in England.

The hotel was amazing. It was on the Promenade de Anglais, a beautiful pedestrian walk along the pebble beaches of the Mediterranean. It had the most perfect view of the Mediterranean sea. We are talking postcard perfect. I have tons of great pictures that I will post up later (and by tons, I am not over exaggerating in the slightest). Seelva and I had a spectacular room to ourselves and felt like we had won the lottery. We spent that Friday exploring Nice, particularly the old city. Nice delivered all the things you would want and crave out of a vacation in France. The exciting, crowded streets, adorable outdoor cafes, unique shops and boutiques, the most beautiful pebble beaches, and the fiery passion of the French people (right up my alley).

I love the way they are so intense about everything. That's why they are notorious for being rude. If they don't like you, they won't spend a millisecond being nice to you. If they do like you, they turn on the charm and disarm you with their kindness and suave personalities. Lucky for us, my sister and I were well liked in France. :) Actually, most of the time, the French people thought we were native. Apparently we look French as well as Greek, Egyptian, Italian, Hispanic, Persian...the list goes on and on... You should have seen the look of disappointment when they realized I only spoke English, but then they were still nice.

You really felt you were in a foreign country because people didn't really speak much English and all the signs and menus were in French. I really don't speak French at all, save for being able to say "merci" and "si'l vous plait" and "mon cherie." I love it that way. I absolutely adore the French language...primarily the English language in a strong French accent. "Bonjour Mademoiselle" melts my heart. I know it's totally stereotypical, but I can't help myself and I am willing to bet neither could you.

The weekend was perfect. It included enjoying the city life of Nice, a day lounging at the beach and swimming in the Mediterranean, and a great tour of the Best of the French Riviera. This included visiting the neighboring country of Monaco. Monte Carlo was incredible. We got to drive along the Grand Prix track. We also visited Antibes (Picasso used to live here) and Cannes (ever heard of little old film festival they have there every year?). Cannes had the very best sandy beaches I have ever seen in my life. We also visited these old medieval villages in the mountains, one was the village of Eze and the other was St. Paul de Vence, which was now a Bohemian art village. St. Paul was known to be home to many of the Great Masters back when they weren't so great. There is a restaurant with a year long waiting list. The story goes that back then St. Paul was a place of starving artists. Because they could not pay with money, they offered little sketches and paintings to pay their rent and for food. This restaurant holds pictures that were offered up by some of the greats like Matisse and Picasso, back when they were nobody. It was such a cool little village.

There is so much beauty everywhere you look in that entire area, it is really no wonder so many creative minds and great artists, engineers, and inventors were so inspired to produce such great works. I know I felt inspired. I crave that stimulation of my creative, artistic side after spending so many years developing the logical, scientific side. I think it is good to have a balance. This vacation was like therapy. I felt more relaxed and serene than I have in a long time.

My favorite moment was when I was just sitting on the beach looking at the most beautiful clear, bright blue water you have every seen, listening to waves crash on the beach and the pebbles, sunkissed, thinking about God, full of joy and thankfulness, with not a care in the world. Pure serenity. That is a moment I know I will treasure and go back to when things get stressful in these next 4 years...a little glimpse of Heaven on this Earth.

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