Friday, 14 October 2011

Nice - the French Connection [end]

From the previous post: "...It is truly in us, what we make of ourselves..."


There always comes a time, usually towards the end of a trip, when melancholy sets in, for you realise that a wonderful journey is coming to a close. It makes us do things like buy memorabilia, take even more pictures and sometimes for me, I tend to stop at a point for that little bit longer to just try and capture the essences in my head. With two days left in this trip, I was determined to make the most of the time.

The first day started beautifully. It was a bit early, when we left for the beach at Antibes. One of the few beaches that is actually sandy, given pretty much from beyond Antibes it was for more rocky or pebble strewn.

Antibes beach
We had left early, so that it would be good to find a nice spot on the beach to chill out, leave our stuff, go swimming in the calm and cool Mediterranean. I borrowed the snorkelling gear from Bernard and swam around near the pier, trying to have a better look at the various fish swimming around. Then came to more shallower ground, stood around and actually shivered a bit. This got two middle aged ladies near me to start laughing! Turns out they were British and they good naturedly chatted with me and still laughed about my feeling cold, when to them it was ultra pleasant given the lower temperatures they were used to. After some time, got back to the shore, dried off. And the stomach had started growling too.

Breakfast on Antibes beach
We had taken a breakfast set up with us, so sitting by the beach, consuming muesli, croissants and coffee was gobsmackingly delicious. By this time the beach had started to fill up. After playing a bit on the beach, a game using paddles and a rubber ball, I was all hot and flushed. Back to the cool water. By now the sun was warming up and more people had crowded the space. We decided to leave, and returned home. Jia was leaving back to Paris, Bernard had work to do. So I decided to travel to Nice on my own, over the two days.


The days, were exactly all that I envisioned. It was calm, easy and mildly hot. Getting to Nice was easy, with the excellent train and bus system in place. I wandered around the place, weaving in and out of alleyways, temporary markets and people lounging around the entire place.

Came across a church, that looked interesting. Went in, looked around at the frescoes, paintings and general architecture.

Not too many folks were inside the place, not being a Sunday I guess. It was a small but welcoming space.

Just after this, as I was walking back to the main road, suddenly in front of a me, a lady trying to navigate her bike through the tiny road and the turnstiles in between lost her balance and fell down. Helped her get up. Got a grateful smile and the words merci beaucoup. Lifted my melancholic spirits a bit up.

Palais de Justice, Nice
Still walking around, found some souvenir shops. Picked up some memorabilia. I started developing the habit of purchasing curios with a magnet, so it would be easy to put it up on the fridge or a metalled space back home. Came across the Palace of Justice or city court as we would normally term it, which looked both, a bit ornate and imposing.

Promenade des Anglais, Nice
Still wandering around, reached Colline du Château (castle hill) and gazed down at the beautiful vision of the blue sea, pebbled beach and paved board walk. Interestingly, it is known as Promenade des Anglais or The English Promenade. Originally the Niçois or citizens of Nice had built their houses away from the beach. However, with the influx of English tourists who came across to enjoy the summer led to the development of this walkway and the place eventually came to be named such.

There were many other things that I saw that day, but these were the ones that were more memorable. On reaching back to Antibes, I came across this directional sign and I mused about where all I had been, what I had done, how much I had enjoyed and yet, I was confident that there was still a lot to view, experience and learn about France. Well, another time, was the thought in my head.

Finally, it had reached that time, when I needed to get back to Nice airport, and leave back for Muscat. Bernard, my good friend was once again kind enough to drop me back.

On seeing this sign at the airport, I could not help but wonder how culturally different was Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Shook hands, hugged and said bye. Then it was the charms of flying onward to Dubai and thereon to Muscat. As the plane took off, I made a promise to myself, someday I will return and explore France even more.

Time to say adieu and au revoir, but only for now. 

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