November 12, 2019 San Remo IT

We finally had to reluctantly leave Italy behind.  We will talk more about our impressions of Italy later, but we both found it wonderful.  We had read a lot of negatives about Italy, and were prepared for a tougher experience than we had had in other places.  It turns out Italy was pretty easy to move around in and we did not experience anything that would cause us to discourage anyone from traveling there.  On the contrary we found Italy to be a wonderful country and we encourage anyone who is thinking of Europe to make sure they include Italy in the itinerary.

Arrivederci Italia.

We woke up to sunshine, so we made an early start towards Nice.  The drive over was uneventful but Nice made a bad first impression on us.  First the year round campground that we planned to stay at after much research to make sure it was open, was closed.  One warning if you are traveling in November call ahead and confirm that places that say they are open are really open.  Luckily because of our research  we had a second choice in mind and it was only 10 minutes away, and most importantly they are open year round as advertised.  The next negative to our first impression of Nice was at the train station.  We walked about a mile to the nearest station, which is a minor station.  In Italy every station no matter how small had someone working there, this one had a nice lobby with an information window, but it was closed with a sign saying they were open random hours during the week.  No problem we are serious travelers and can get tickets from any automatic machine.  The one thing that will stop intrepid travelers like us is if the only ticket machine at  the station is malfunctioning (actually completely dead, powered down).  So now we were stuck, our first temptation was to just get on the the next train and if we did run into a conductor tell him our tale, but not really speaking French this seemed risky and could end up costing us an awful lot.  At this point Ton saw an advertisement for an App the train company in France has where you can buy tickets on line so we tried that.  Surprisingly it worked, and armed with our app bought ticket on our phone we boarded the next train to Nice.  

As a quick editorial, one of the things we liked about Italy was the lack of automation, you bought tickets from people, who were able to answer questions, point you in the right direction and deliver a smile.  Maybe that is why even though things are rougher around the edges in Italy we enjoyed it so much, because we were dealing with people and not machines and apps.

The beach in Nice is this pea gravel and not sand, but it does not detract from people heading to the beach.  The gravel makes a really interesting sound as the waves recede.

Nice is much larger than I envisioned, somehow I had an overgrown Monaco in mind and not the big metropolis we found ourselves in.  But it is beautiful and the waterfront esplanade is one of the best we have ever seen anywhere in the world.  It is truly magnificent and I can see how you could fall in love with a city that goes out of it’s way to embrace the sea in the way Nice does.

The extensive waterfront esplanade of Nice, the best one we have seen in our travels.

We ended up walking more today than any day on this trip, just about exactly 10 miles. We climbed up to an overlook on one side of the city and waterfront and were rewarded with some fantastic views of both Nice, and the Alps in the background.  

City view of Nice, with Italian style Duomo in the center.

When we arrived back to our broken home train station of Villeneuve-Loubet I told Ton I thought there was a better route home.  When we were walking to the train station in the morning we had spotted three very large and striking condominium towers.  We both find them striking but neither one of us will own up to liking them.  We walked thru them on the way back and found a giant marina behind them, so they are catering to a very upscale clientele.  It was sunset and the sky and the views over the Mediterranean were eye catching.  From one beach we were able to look at the sea, and turn and look at the Alps with the pink light of the setting sun highlighting the snow caps.  It was worth the diversion for a great sunset.

The striking condos and upper middle class yachts.

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