Nice and La Perouse

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A special dog drinking fountain on the considerate streets of Nice.

Dateline Nice: I want to talk about the (attempted) art of chugging through Europe a few days here, a few days there, and finding surprising small pleasures. Our rail journey through Europe is just us, a bunch of luggage, and our own “open sesame” to safe, comfortable, dependable travel, the Eurail Pass. We got ours from ACP Rail before leaving California, and it’s good for 15 days of first class trips within two months anywhere European trains go. It’s a restful way to see beauty, meet people, or just read and hold hands. And any concern about hefting heavy bags on and off has been erased by the kindness of strangers who offer help. These travel angels, fellow travelers, appear at every stop, little miracles that lift the spirit besides lifting our stuff.

As I write, I’m mesmerized by the view over-looking the sweeping arc of the famous Baie des Anges (the Bay of Angels). The (much painted by masters) beach is embraced by the Promenade des Anglais, the English Walkway. Ah, the ever romantic Cote d’Azur. This is where we stroll. Frenzy is not fun so we schedule time for peace and set a pace that is possible. Tricky, due to David’s heel that is enduring an unwelcome tendonitis. Walking stick time.

Hotel la Perouse

In the heart of Nice, near the Saleya walkway and its legendary flowers market, stands our home, the boutique Hotel la Perouse, a four-star masterpiece carved into the cliff and nestled at the foot of Castle Hill, at the top of the bay.

We were greeted by General Manager, Mme. Laure Giometti who is also a lovely mother of two daughters. She is a most competent woman, managing a great hotel and a family. Due to guests delayed by the volcanic ash, we received a monumental upgrade to a grand accommodation with a large (I could have used my ping-pong table) terrace overlooking the sea and the city and the mountains beyond. Too special! After a wander through the winding streets of Old Nice just a few yards away, we freshened up in our spacious, (muted stones and uniquely beautiful) well-equipped bath and went down to dinner. Restaurant Le Patio: The hotel’s charming restaurant allows us to enjoy the sunny climate and beauty of Nice. In the shade of lemon trees, we enjoy exquisite dishes as we admire the blue of the Mediterranean, while overlooking the pretty garden and the large swimming pool beyond. Excellent service in a casually elegant setting where their generous breakfast buffet is also offered.

We joined the happy crowds in the colorful, appetizing food market and flower market in the Cours Saleya, and walked to the sophisticated shopping, business and museum district. It had large spaces with modern and witty sculpture. The Nice library is the shape of a large head into which we walk and look at the huge array of literature. Then we walk along the port and check out the yachts. Biggies!

The museum of Marc Chagall is so moving; its beauty brings us to tears. Also, the Contemporary Art Museum is staggering. And in the hills above, and the exotic destinies in nearby drives, amazing museums abound for most of the famed Impressionists. After a gorgeous day, it’s time for the swimming pool on the hillside to refresh the body and mind. For relaxation: a Jacuzzi, a solarium, a sauna, and fitness room. We departed in the midst of the Nice Marathon witch ran right by the hotel. So many everyday Nice citizens helped to raise money to help the needy. It meant we had to walk some ways to meet our taxi to the next train, but worth it to see the celebrations, musicians along the route, and the good old goodness that displays common humanity.

I still have a slice of my mind’s pie in Toluca Lake. It makes me happy to know we’ll be back in time to see the dear and daffy Rip Taylor doing his stuff at the El Portal. Meanwhile, we’re choo-chooing to the Italian Riviera and will share all… We’ll Talk!

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