Tucked between Cannes to the south and Monaco to the north, Nice sits on the lovely Mediterranean Sea and was the next leg of our journey.
So, on Monday evening, after a journey up and down the A8 motor way (you journey over many mountains to get from Aix to Nice) we found ourselves lost in Nice. We missed a crucial turn thanks to Maggie (the British GPS lady) and ended up having to take a long and arduous drive through Nice during rush hour traffic. We had to return our rental car to Avis, which we knew was located at the Gare de Nice-Ville….but we simply could not find where to drop the car. We literally drove around downtown Nice in circles, screaming at one another (it was not our proudest travel moment on this trip) trying to figure out what to do. We pulled into the Gare parking lot for the umpteenth time and miraculously saw a tiny little Avis sign that pointed down to a garage for car returns. Possibly the worst signage ever! And then, once we made it up to the top of the 6th story garage, there were no Avis parking spaces! Our first impression of Nice was getting off to a really bad start. Not to mention that in the middle of all of this drama, the guy letting us into our apartment was blowing up my phone with texts and calls because he was getting held up waiting for us (even though I informed him multiple times that we were lost and delayed)! My last nerve was long past gone and I quickly got out of vacay mode and called on my inner New Yorker to tell Mr. Apartment Guy to lay off.
Eventually, after lecturing the sad little man at Avis about their horrible signage and even worse return facilities we made our way to the taxi line.
As if things weren’t bad enough, the next few minutes in Nice made us even less fond of this city by the Sea. When we got to the taxi stand, there was a family of about 5 or 6 people (with a considerable amount of luggage and a sobbing child) already waiting for a taxi. Wobbling and swaying across the busy street came a sweaty and highly intoxicated fellow that wanted to talk to the family and “help” to calm down the crying kid. He offered the child a Euro, but as Mr. Drunk Guy was barely able to stand up and was all disheveled, the child and the family were not interested. I was just praying that he wouldn’t come over to us….please don’t come over here….please don’t come over here. But before that could happen two taxis pulled up. Half of the family got into the first taxi and drove off. And then things got ugly. Everything happened in French….but basically, the taxi driver didn’t want to take the family, but wanted us to get in his taxi instead. The family looked to be African, but they may have been from Nice, I can’t say for sure. But they spoke French…and they got angrier and angrier and there was a lot of pointing to us and tempers were getting flared. Mr. Drunk Guy was also up in the taxi drivers face defending the family, so that added to the already intense scene. We three just stood there, not moving a muscle and obviously not even considering getting into the taxi (even though after the day we had had, I really just wanted to get to the apartment). It’s sad to say, but racism is alive and well all around the world.
The argument continued…and the family was getting even more agitated. There really wasn’t much we could do since we don’t speak French. Eventually additional taxis pulled up and we very quickly found our own taxi, making sure there were plenty of other taxis for the disgruntled family. 20 minutes and 20 Euros later, we arrived at our apartment.
It’s a lovely 2 bedroom apartment right on the Promenade des Anglais…and with a terrace looking at the beautiful blue sea. Within about 5 minutes, all of the craziness of the day was a distant memory, and Nice started to look very nice! After unpacking our bags, we wasted no time in heading over the beach to relax for a bit.
The beach in Nice is pebbly, the water is crystal clear and that evening the horizon was a pink cotton candy confection. Planes were landing at the nearby airport, families were still swimming in the warm sea, the lights of the Promenade began to flicker on. The pebbles were still warm from a long day in the hot Mediterranean sun. We were all relaxed and content. Nice is very nice.