28 November 2008


The kiddies are sleeping as the alarm buzzes softly this a.m. We creep around with final packing and showers. DM will take us to the bus in the Centrum [center of Bratislava] for the launch of Adventure, part 2. He has a bad cold and is feeling sickly, so I prepare a pot of French Press made with Intelligentsia coffee. Soon MP joins us with a smiling and sleepy-eyed KF. She is still shy, but always happy to see us--our beautiful baby girl.

A short bus ride to Vienna Flughofen [airport]. We order a kaffe mélange and settle in to the time-honored café rites of silence, smoking, and world-class people watching [without the smoking!]. Our first ever Sky Europe flight beats out Southwest. Safety instructions in three languages—German, French, and English—with the bonus empty seat between us to spread our elbows. Sky Europe has not yet stolen every millimeter of legroom…

The landing in Nice is close to spectacular. If the skies had been sunny instead of overcast and drizzly, “spectacular” would not have covered it. You virtually make a water landing—wheels down almost before you can believe there is earth beneath. Mediterranean Sea waves are crashing into the shoreline and snow-capped mountains are on the horizon. Nice appears ochre and cream, pink and white, with sun-burnt orange tile roofs interspersed throughout.

We know to buy the 4€ all day bus ticket and quickly move to Quai 2 to board. The entire bus ride follows the Baie des Anges [Bay of Angels] and in 15 minutes we are at Promenade des Congrès and a short 2-block walk to the Nice Garden Hotel. We buzz into a simple and charming B&B and are shown about by an effusive Marian—co-owner. Our room has been recently updated and, though basic, has just enough space and a trendy, urban feel. There are wooden floors, soft taupe herringbone wall coverings, and sleek-tiled bathroom walls. A charming shuttered window overlooks the back garden. We are here just for tonight, but will remember and recommend this hotel.

We spend the afternoon wandering the cobblestoned streets, admiring the ambiance and architecture—happy and excited to be on the Cote d’Azur. We head for Place Masséna and then Marché aux Fleurs—Nice’s famous flower market. Marian has recommended Safari for a late lunch and it is seriously drizzling by the time we find it near the end of the flower market. We see many cafes outfitted for wintertime outdoor dining, but have determined to follow Marian’s recommendation. We are not disappointed as this seems a local place—despite its tourist location.

I don’t care if it is trite, I cannot resist ordering salade Niçoise to compare with all the recipes I have read and made in the U.S. Very fine, with just a drizzle of olive oil—mixed greens, radishes, mushrooms, tomatoes, tuna, hard-cooked egg, and scallions. No boiled potatoes in this version. I don’t share, although CA is generous with his pizza with anchovies and olives. CA thinks he has ordered a glass of the local rosé, but ends up with a bottle and we are forced to finish it! It is the lightest pink and the best wine ever...

We hope to fit two meals in, but that full bottle of rosé and then the extra long walk results in a nap. By the time we are again conscious, it is late and we are not hungry… We’ll begin early tomorrow and then our friends join us midday for a week in Mougins and the delights of Provence.

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