Monday May 27, 2019
In the morning, we have another nice breakfast with Christophe before finishing our packing and heading out for our next train. We are heading to the French Riviera and the town of Nice. Isn’t that nice? It is a two hour and forty minute ride on a regional train. We have found these trains to be very comfortable and fast. The main difference from the high speed TGV is a few more stops and there is no assigned seating. We get to the station and the train is there so we board, find some seats, and are set. We arrive in Nice on time, get a map from the convenient TI at the station and navigate the half mile to the Hancy Guesthouse. The owner Marie, rings us up and checks us in. She gives us a map, shows us where we are and how to get to the old center. When we tell her we are planning to go to Monaco, she tells us about a bus that is much cheaper than the train, and is a nice scenic ride along the coast. Our room ( in Nice) is nice and has a small kitchenette in it.
The weather is not very good for a day at the beach so we decide to start out by finding the Russian Cathedral. We take a circuitous route, more by trial and error, than design. The cathedral exterior is very beautiful. The cathedral is only 107 years old with an interesting history. In the late 19th century, 500 rich Russian families wintered here regularly. They needed a worthy Orthodox house of worship so Czar Nicholas I’s widow provided the land and Czar Nicholas II gave this church to the Russian community in 1912. A few years later, the Czar was assassinated.
The interior is one room that is full of icons, candles, and beautiful eastern art. It is enhanced by the low Russian music and the occasional babushka that comes in to pray, while we are there. We exit and do a circular tour of the outside which includes a statue of the Czar. We now head down to the old town center of Nice.
We come to the Mediterranean and walk along the coast around a promontory known as Castle Hill, to the harbor front. We find a cool war memorial in the cliff face, which honors the soldiers from both World Wars. Continuing, we start to search for the bus stop to Monaco. We find a #100 bus on a side street but it is not a stop. We walk several blocks in the area before finding the actual stop and beginning of the line. We return to our room a different but shorter way to gauge the time it will take us to walk to the stop. Back at the room, we relax and try to decide whether we should shop and cook in or go out to eat. Carol read about an Italian place called La Cucina, that says it is open from 1800 to 2200. As it is a little past 1800, we decide to find it and give it a try. We walk back toward the main square known as Place Massena and then a series of streets where seventy five per cent of the restaurants are Italian. We find La Cucina but it is clearly not open, no sign for hours, and nothing to indicate it will open later. Disappointed, we wander around trying to find the right place.
We end up at La Pizza, a restaurant I had seen when Google mapping La Cucina. It had good reviews and the pizza looks good as we walk buy and check out the diners meals. We go in and sit inside. The decor is cool and feels Italian, with pictures of movie stars and public figures lining the walls. We order a half pizza, pasta with eggplant and other vegetables, and the obligatory red French wine. The pizza is very large and more like New York style ( no olives either) than the previous French pizzas that we have eaten. It is very good and so is the pasta. The wait staff is friendly and attentive. La Pizza was a good choice.
After dinner, we head back to Place Massena for an after dinner walk. We notice sculptures of sitting men on poles that we somehow missed earlier. We also see a nice park open space with lighted dancing fountains. It is like a microscopic Las Vegas Bellagio show without the music. Entertainment is provided by the people who walk among the fountains. Across the way is a different kind of fountain, more traditional for Europe, with a naked marble God above bronze horses.
We walk to the waterfront and then back through Place Massena. The statues on the poles are now lit up and change colors. We are not sure what it all means but kind of like it. Tomorrow we will travel to the fourth country of our trip.
Train from Marseille to Nice. 72.40E
Hancy Guesthouse 88.65E
Ice Cream. 5E Cash
Dinner at La Pizza. 34E
Walked 9 Miles