Italy, continued

Michael asked about the food, so for lunch yesterday I had fried calamari (yum). I had an apero of Campari & soda that came with homemade focaccia.  Little surprise, Ellie loves focaccia. Dinner with Samara and Tarek where the waiter spoke English with a New Jersey accent! They had fish, I had risotto with asparagus and veal Milanese. And a bonus of homemade limoncello on the house after. 

This am, a walk along the beach. 


In the train station, to get back to Nice. Shocked by an incident as we crossed the border (though had heard the same from other people): the border police came through the train but did not ask me or another girl for our passports. They only asked non-white people and hustled an African man off the train when he told them he didn’t have one. 

In Italy 

First overnight away from Nice since I arrived in January. Friends were driving to Italy, so I decided to tag along. Another plus for Nice–20 minutes drive and you’re in another country. And it’s Italy! We actually drove about 90 minutes to Alassio, about halfway up the coast of Liguria toward Genoa. Charming seaside resort, with restaurants lining the beaches and beautiful, arcaded streets. 

Ellie’s Norwegian boyfriend

So this is how you make friends in Nice. While walking Ellie last night, I ran into a neighbor who had injured her leg. Because of my newfound empathy for the handicapped, I offered to walk her Jack Russell, Caesar. Of course it was raining this morning, but we forged on. Inger is Swedish, her husband Norwegian, and they live half the year in Nice. The two dogs got on famously, as did Inger and me. 

Ps Do not mention this to Ellie’s Italian boyfriend, Theodore, who is currently in Verona. 

Bits and pieces

So my daily life. Yesterday I had a mani-pedi. Note that they don’t have special chairs for this purpose: just put your feet on the pedicurist’s lap!


In the evening, Libby took a group of us (friends of her daughter) out to dinner. 


Today I met a friend for a drink at a hotel with a great view. Note the new shoes, handbag, and of course, pedicure. 

Monaco

Libby is in town visiting her daughter who has an internship nearby. We did a mini-tour of Nice on Tuesday with me as guide and had a good dinner together. Thursday we took the train to Monaco, which was packed. Apparently there was some tennis tournament. Anyway, we took a public bus, which wends its way through the principality to the royal palace. Quite impressive, especially the spectacular views of the harbor. 


Easter lunch at a tiki bar

So I seem to have been adopted by my Italian circle. Sunday Olympia invited me to join her friends at a bar/restaurant on the beach in nearby St. Laurent du Var. Noel and Eduardo were there along with 2 other Italian ladies and we spoke French until the Italians got excited and burst into long arias (or so it sounded). I had a Punch Planteur, we shared calamari and zucchini flower beignets and then I had the first spaghetti alla vongole I’ve ever seen in France. For some reason, clams (palourdes) are rare and expensive here but plentiful just across the border. Very fun afternoon. 

Tapas party

If I had known 2 months ago that I’d be cooking for a party of 7 people (and 1 hungry dog), I’d have been very happy to hear it. The arm is still a little wonky but clearly much improved. 

The guests: new friends Eduardo and Olympia (friends of Elisabetta who is currently in Verona), samara and Tarek, Noel and Cathy. Conversation in 3 languages. 

The menu: grilled lamb chops (purchased), albondigas, melon with Bayonne ham, artichokes al ajillo, mussels with red pepper dressing, toasts with cheese, zucchini, radish and capers. Eduardo brought homemade grissini. Samara brought dessert pastries. Lots of wine. 


Guests

Along with flowers, spring brings guests. Dominique last week, Libby next week and Abby and Ian in May. And Cathy now. Since my apartment cannot accommodate overnight visitors, most are staying in a hotel. But Noel very generously offered to put Cathy up at his much larger apartment. The three of us had dinner here last night–roast chicken with their accompanying roasted potatoes, a zucchini flan and lots of wine. I was glad not to have to worry about disturbing Cathy when I woke at 1 am and spent most of the night awake with a massive headache. 

Today we had lunch on the beach–moules for Cathy and fried calamari for me and Ellie. And then a very needed siesta. 

Beach day

I love the beach off-season, even if it is too cold to swim. Stuck a toe in and didn’t get any further. Had a picnic on the beach with Dominique, who came into Nice yesterday for a quick visit. After Ellie polished off the sausage and ham, we walked down the beach to a restaurant where we had coffee and dessert. That was more fun.  I prefer my picnics without sand in my shoes. 

Gardens

Thank Abby for the correction to my last post. It is wisteria blooming on my terrace. Don’t know what I was thinking. 

Continuing the botanical theme, April is the “month of gardens”–a special exhibit throughout the Côte d’Azur. Here are some photos from the parc Albert Ier, which is about 50 feet from my apartment. It is kind of the Central Park of Nice.