Thursday, 23 August 2012

Day 15 - Nice ... Getting To Know You

A very slow day ... until about 3:00pm, that is. On the start of our third week in Europe, I spent the morning writing, except for one excursion out for morning tea when the lady came to clean the room. The domestic staff in France get very indifferent about carrying out their duties when you are still in the room so when she arrived, Sue and I went out for coffee.
Maison Auer

Perhaps because we have been focused on being somewhere else each time we have left our room, we seem to have neglected those gems within 300m of our hotel. Up the side alley underneath our windows - giving "that" spot against the wall of the Opera a wide birth - we walked across the Rue St Francois de Paule and straight into Maison Auer, a sweets shop from your dreams. Ornate stands and shelves in the front half of the shop have every manner of sweet or jam and in the alcove off the back of the main showroom is a display case only for chocolate. Unbelievable! Out of good manners and cultural appropriateness, we purchased our share.

Less than 200m away, we found yet another husband and wife run restaurant where we had morning tea. Communication was limited until I commented about his Metalica t-shirt and then two old metal heads went at it with passion. We swapped our favourite tracks from the best of Metal and he was over the moon to realise we were Australian and his ACDC anecdotes held us for an additional ten minutes. His command of English became suddenly very good!

I returned to the room to continue writing, whilst Sue hunted for dinner in the markets, into whose precinct we had wandered looking for a cafe.

I'm afraid my writing and reporting took over and it was mid afternoon before we finally set off to pick up my repaired trousers. In the end, it was only a ten minute walk and the reception we received was so warm and friendly.

We stopped at a small cafe near the hospital for a very late lunch. Ham (jambon) sandwiches in France are foot-long bread rolls with freshly cut ham. In the process of eating lunch, Sue tried to secret her debit card into the zipped pocket of her pants, before discovering that instead of unzipping the pocket, she was removing the lower leg of the trousers instead!

Walking on, we found the Museum of Natural History, a small but interesting collection of the flora and fauna of this region of France. We gained only limited information from the written displays but the little birdies and animals on display were interesting.

We walked back to Place Messena, by now our navigation point in all our movements. From here, its only about three minutes to the hotel but we stopped for advice on buying a local bottle of red. Our choice was a bottle Domaine de Toasc Bellet, a product grown less than 8km from the point of sale on less than 80 hectares. The bottle shop even lent us a bottle opener!

Have completed our shopping for dinner, we both - yes both - went across the road to negotiate the rock beach and scantily clad beach goers. Nothing to report other than long, sun-stretched wrinkles and to confirm Sue's reports about the salty, blue Mediterranean. It floats your body like the Aussie dollar under a Labor government but after a while, your eyes sting with the salt. This afternoon, there were waves but they broke like an after thought in the last step taken to leave the water. Still, it was pleasant, floating out beyond the multitude with Sue beside me. It was hard not to reflect on our good fortune at being here as we looked past the Russian and Italian youngsters playing water games among the naked breasts of their grandmothers and looked at the four and five storey old buildings lining the Promenade de Anglais. They called for memory of a bygone age and looked like doing so for some time yet.

Our dinner was a combination of delights gathered from within 300m of the hotel - the chocolates, by the way, lived up to quality of the place they were purchased.

After dinner, we wandered back down to the Rue St Francis de Paule, to listen to an English saxophonist. He played okay but had no patter beyond "give me your money" and I suspect he was several sheets to the wind.

Returning  to our room, we disregarded the air conditioning in favour of atmosphere and let the sounds of Nice float in through the open windows.

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