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Tue Nov 25 2014: The Rain in Spain falls mainly in France

We're on the move! Neda is finally finished here in Pula and all week long we've been eying the forecasts, trying to pick a window of dry weather to depart.

Our last moments in Pula

I asked Neda if leaving Pula was very emotional for her. This might be the last time that we would be back for a while. She said that these past few weeks had been very stressful for her and that she was just happy that it was done and over with, and that we'd be leaving it behind now.

We're heading westwards on our search for warmer and drier climates. On the way, we had a quick stopover in Milan for the weekend, to spend more time with Neda's sister and her family. Then back on the highway and in the blink of an eye, we were in France! A brand new country on our trip!

Neda says, "Nice!" No, not nice as in pleasant, but "Nice" as in the city in France!

We thought we would have some clear skies to travel under, but the weather changed its mind after our weekend stay in Milan - our journey on the French highways was fraught with cold and heavy rains. We are in "Relocate" mode right now. The conditions are not very conducive to pleasure riding, so we opt to pay for the toll roads and we're hugging the very southern coast of France in an effort to stay as close to warm weather as possible.

The hotel where we're staying at told us we could park anywhere on the sidewalk. So we did!
Love being on two-wheels in Europe!

The staff at the hotel reassured us about the security of our bikes. They told us that Nice is the most heavily surveilled city in France with CCTV cameras trained on every inch of the city. I still locked up my bike out of habit. *shrug*

And yes, we're staying in a hotel. We thought we were getting an off-season deal, but with all the taxes and tariffs they levied at check-in, it turned out to be more than our budget allowed. And this was one of the cheapest accommodations as well - it was 70% *OFF* the already low off-season price! France is turning out to be more expensive than Italy! :(

The hotel listed the room rates for different periods. During the F1 Monaco Race (less than 30 minutes away), the rate skyrockets to €200 a night! We're not going to be staying in France for very long, I don't think.

On our short stopover in Nice, we braved the cold and rain to walk around the coastal city

We were surprised that there were still a lot of people spending time outside despite the weather

Their relationship looked to be on the rocks...

Opéra de Nice is an example of the Second Empire Architecture

Second Empire architecture was popular from the mid-to-late 19th century. Although it originated in France, and many more examples exist in Paris, you can also see this style in North America as well, like Boston's Old City Hall. But perhaps most people know the style of architecture from the houses from Psycho, The Addams Family, The Munsters and Beetlejuice. Yes, it's the horror house architecture... That's exactly what the French had in mind when creating this architectural style...

View of the coast of Nice

Near the shoreline was a tall outcropping of rock called the Colline du Château (Castle Hill). You can climb some stairs or take an elevator to get to the top, where you can walk around a large citadel that they built up there. It's the best place in the city to get some great views of the beaches and the rooftops below.

Poor man's French Riviera

We've been to St. Tropez and Monaco before and Nice's marinas pale in comparison to the million dollar yachts parked in the swankier docks. In fact, only the downtown area of Nice is nice-looking. When coming into town, we noticed that the outskirts are kind of grungy-looking.

Reflection of Place Garibaldi, in one of the oldest squares in Nice

Heading into the old part of Nice (Vieille Ville)

We always gravitate to the older sections of cities and towns we visit. In Latin America, this would be called Centro Historico. The pastel paint on the buildings tell me that we're in a Gringo Trail Town! :)

Like any Gringo Trail Town, Vieille Nice is lined with shops and restaurants

As far as sculptures go, this was one of the less abstract (saner) examples. More about that later...

Scooter's eye view of Nice

Lots of families out for Christmas shopping

The French do food very well! But we are on a grocery store diet...

Neda is still suffering from stomach problems, which is making her quite miserable. It's been a week since leaving Pula, and our pace is pretty relaxed, so we're not too certain that stress is the cause. I did some Internet diagnosing, which is sometimes not that useful because just about every symptom could just as easily be a cold or be ebola at the same time...

It sounds like she may have some kind of food allergy, so I'm putting her on a diet and cutting out all of the usual suspects. There'll be no gluten and no dairy for her for the next week. Hopefully we can pinpoint the cause of her stomach problems.

Mosaic dome of a church peeks out between the narrow streets of Vieille Nice

It's such a shame it's so rainy and overcast, I can imagine this city being much more colourful and vibrant in the summertime!

Place Massena offers a cool checkerboard promenade

It also showcases some weird sculptures - a bunch of nude men kneeling on platforms on top of tall poles...

I don't get modern art. Not at all. I don't have a background in art, so I can't explain why I like certain paintings or drawings over others, but I can succinctly sum up why I don't like this kind of art: I just don't get it.

And then this one. A huge black arc sitting on the lawn. What does it mean?

I looked this one up. "Arc de 115.5 degrees" by Bernar Venet. Was erected in 1988 to commemorate the centennial of the naming of "Nice" or "Cote d'Azur". But... what does it mean?!!

More Avant-Garde Art?

The ferris wheel is still under construction for Christmas. Neda ventures out into the middle of a fountain that just shut off when we arrived. Not knowing how long between waterworks, I chickened out and just took pictures from the side. I was actually waiting for the fountain to start up again so I could laugh at her when she got soaked... Didn't happen. Oh well.

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