Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saint Jean-Cap Ferrat & Nice, France - June 19 2010

Our last day in Nice, and our host Erick offered to take us around once more! This time he took out to Saint Jean-Cap Ferrat.  This is a village on the coast, not too far from Nice.  We drove a bit, then walked a good distance...which is great, cause walking is the best way to see a place!  Once again, we got cute French Riviera small town!  Before we left, we went around Nice for a couple of hours...

In Nice, there is a Russian Orthodox Cathedral called St. Nicolas.  It is apparently the biggest Russian church outside of Russia!  This photo kinda makes it look like a little toy town figure, but it's a fairly big building.  Sadly though, for some reason the day we went to go see it, it was closed, and what you see here is all about what we got to see!  It was still cool to look at though.

Tarte du Parfait! (a perfect tart!) hahaha, before we got to the Russian church, we passed a French (naturally cause we are in France!) bakery.  Not being able to pass them without going inside, we ended up buying something.  This tart still stands as the most perfect looking tarts, or baked anything for that matter, that we have ever seen!  Really, it was amazing, the raspberries were all absolutely identical, and very neatly placed!  With a sprinkle of icing sugar, delicious crust and amazing goo filling, this tart not only looked perfect, but tasted perfect too!  So good, I think it only took about 35 seconds for each last crumb to be gobbled up!

We ate the tart between taking the church photo, and this one!  On the ground of the church, from the walk way around the building, there were stairs to nowhere!  Perhaps the real 'Stairway to Heaven'!?!?  If so, heaven isn't that far, and we can all get there by going to Nice! Hahaha

We are just starting our walk around Saint Jean-Cap Ferrat.  The walkway goes along the edge of a cliff along the water.  Nice, relaxing walk :)

Cliff on the way with either Villefranche-sur-mer or Beaulieu-sur-mer in the background.  Sorry, we can't remember!

About half way through the walk, we found a nice place by the water on the rocks to have lunch.  We were close enough that Stefan here, got splashed by some water a few times!

A shot of the coast and part of the walk ahead of us!  Somewhere in there is the must be covered by the bush, but is right on the edge of the cliff!

Looking back from the other side of the corner of the coast where a skinny lighthouse is.

As usual, along the coast of the South of France, cool, big, and/or expensive houses dot the shores and cliffs.  Our host, Erick, pointed this one out to us, as he said it's his favourite one!  If you look closely, there are panels along the curved bars on each side of the house.  We don't know if they moved or not, or maybe more panels could be installed to block out sunlight!

The inlet of Saint Jean-Cap Ferrat, which is a really small but cute village, not without any large and expensive usual!

Erick, our couchsurfing host in front a cute French house!

The waterfront of the town, and a little bit of its marina.

Along the walkway on the town's waterfront, there is a bunch of sculptures of metalwork.  This one, at first looks like a woman, but if you look closely, it kinda looks like she has a penis!  Not that there is anything wrong with that, just found it a bit surprising in small town south of France!

Then the next one got a bit more normal...dolphins!

Busted cello, or double bass....well, since it's split in two, would that be a quad bass now!? hahaha


After the walk around the coast, we went back over the hill to where the car was.  And along that way, we had to pass through a residential area that feels like something out of Hollywood...only better cause you are in the South of France, and not L.A!  This is just a random huge house with a beautiful garden complete with swimming pool!

Back to Nice for dinner!  We seemed to have a lot of good luck getting great food in Nice, so we pretty much ate dinner in Nice every day.  We ate at this night at a place called "Pasta Basta", in the old town of Nice.  It was the kinda place where you can pick your type of sauce, and then the type of pasta to sort of create your own semi custom plate of food!  However, this photo is not of pasta... Cliff ordered a salade Niçoise. After all, it seemed a little sacrilegious to be in Nice and not have a salade Niçoise. All the salads in Nice seemed to be massive! This one (naturally) had tomato, egg, tuna, anchovies, onion, radish, and olives atop greens. It was delicious!

Stefan's meal...salmon ravioli with a cream sauce!  Now, there was a bit more stuff in it then that, but it was minor...and we was months ago now.  But anyway, it was one of those simple pastas that taste pretty darn good!  Oh, and it was eaten sitting outside on the terrace of a French restaurant in the south of France...that might have made it taste better!

On the hill and peninsula that separates the beach front of Nice from the port of Nice, there are houses perched (as you have seen in other photos before this one).  But this is at night, and looks really cool.  The building might be a hotel, or condos.  The round thing, who knows...a really nice water tank maybe!?  You can see a really cool stairway on the hill too.

On the opposite side of the hill in the previous photo, there is some sort of memorial. We think it was a war memorial.  It is lit up really nice at night, and while were there, there was some special day with a ceremony, and a giant flag was hung above the memorial.  However, it looks like a bit of wind messed it up a bit!

The back of the opera house in Nice!  Yes, this is the BACK!  The back is pretty darn nice hey!?  It faces the road and boardwalk along the beach coast.  Looks damn great!  You can see in the lit up windows, well, its windows of the change rooms, and yes, you can see people getting out of costume!  It was kinda funny, not sure what show the opera was doing, but we saw silhouettes of what looked like french cabaret girls changing...kinda fit in and was cutely cliche cause we were in France!

Later on, more entertainment in an odd form...some guy with a van, and a plethora of instruments shoved into the back!  He parks his van with the side door open facing the walkway on the waterfront of Nice, and plays as many instruments as possible, really loudly!  Random, and fun!

Nothing special here! Oh wait, just a giant head with glowing horns, some sort of alien antenna, and electrified lips and eyebrows! Why is it there, who knows, but you can eat food in the restaurant below!

So we come to a close after a very busy six days in Nice and its surrounding towns. As it was Cliff's second time in Nice, he got to both revisit things he remembered (he was here back in 2002) and experience new things. Seeing as how that trip in 2002 was one of the most amazing trips ever, he was really excited to come back to this city. The city was a bit different than what he remembered, but it was a very fun time nonetheless. It was great to revisit places like Eze (Cliff had really wanted to show Stefan this cute village on the hilltop!).  Stefan really liked Nice and the south a lot, just might be able to live wouldn't be a bad thing!  We didn't get to do it totally how we wanted, which was to stay a couple of nights in each village, but that takes a lot of bucks we didn't have!  In any case, we got to see most of the places on our list, and they were all great!  Getting to see places we never planned that still turned out to be really nice, was also great.  Nice is a beautiful city with lots of green space, a great waterfront, and a very cute old town with plenty of yummy places to stuff your gut at!  We would definitely say its worth a visit to Nice, and the south of France!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sainte Agnès, La Turbie, & Nice, France - June 18 2010

Our CouchSurfing host Erick took some time out of the next two days to spend with us. On the first of these two days he took us out around Nice in his car! We visited Sainte Agnès and La Turbie. These towns were not coastal but very close to the coast up on a hill. It was really awesome to have been able to make these trips with Erick because we would have otherwise not gone to them; they are pretty out of the way.

Taken from the car on our way to Sainte Agnès. It's overlooking some French town...

You can see Sainte Agnès perched on the left side of the hill!

Cute little cemetery on the top of the hill.



The burial grounds of some very tiny medieval community (now in ruins) at Sainte Agnès.

Looking Southward to the Mediterranean from the top of Sainte Agnès.

More ruins from the medieval community. These ruins were actually higher than the current village of Sainte Agnès itself. We're not sure but maybe these are the ruins of the old/original Sainte Agnès.

The gardens in the middle of the ruins. Obviously up-kept for us tourists!

More ruins!

Amazing views from the top of the hill, but not so much when this is your window!

Inside of some building.

Another great view of the coast from the hill top.

Interesting rock formation!

Looking up the valley through a chain of small mountains.

The side of the small mountain opposite Sainte Agnès. Notice the really cool zigzagging road that runs up the mountain!

More French Riviera...

Here you can see the current village of Sainte Agnès. Although we're looking down on the village it's still perched quite high up on the mountain. 

The cable-and-pulley contraption used to bring stuff up to the medieval village.

The modern Sainte Agnès!

Cute French house!

More cute French house.

Dark French alleyway...

Cool French intersection!

Amazing French walls!

We love the narrowness of this street. How cute!

Us sitting at a pub on the side of Sainte Agnès.

Looking back up at the mountain housing Sainte Agnès as we drive away!

In the car with Erick... This is the road that runs along the mountainsides which connects the little towns in the area. And yes, this narrow little road is actually two-way!

We have no idea what you are looking at here, but it appears to be something old (the tall thing in the background) and something new (those cars are shiny!).  This is La Turbie!

A cool view of the coastline from the top of the mountain that La Turbie is on.  Just above the town is a cool lookout point.

Turn about 180° to the left, and you get this view!  The city in this one is Monte Carlo!  When you are at this lookout, you can actually see the entire Principality of Monaco!  

More Monaco!

The west end of Monaco!  You can see a football (aka soccer) stadium in about the centre of this photo.  Either this stadium has a lot of seats, or Monaco doesn't have a lot of people. In any case, the entire population can apparently fit into this stadium.

Us in Monaco...errr...La Turbie!  Really, we went to Sears Portrait Studio for this one, just so happened they had a backdrop of Monaco!

Stefan on the edge of the mountain where La Turbie is.  The town in the photo, we are sure is a nice town, whatever its name is!

Back in Nice for dinner!  The place we ate at has the burgundy canopy.  We thought this street was really cute.

Our host, and tour guide for the day, Erick, took us to a restaurant called Chez Pipo that is famous for socca, which is a Niçois speciality.

This is socca!  No, its not a dance, but something you eat!  It's made of chickpea puree and water.  Once the mixture is made up, it's spread on a giant pan, really, its giant...about 2.5 feet in diameter!  The pan slowly rotates in a wood-burning oven.  Socca comes out nice and hot, with a crispy outside, and a soft inside!  It doesn't have a strong taste, but it does have a wonderful taste of chickpeas and yummy charcoal flavour.

For dessert we had a tourte de blettes. Blette is a type of green. The tourte can be served sweet or savoury. Obviously here we are having it sweet :)

So when we sat down outside the restaurant, it was hard not to notice the old VW Microbus Transporter, then, suddenly a band comes and hops in the back, lowers the side panels and starts rockin it out!  It was so random, but totally great!  Really, at a cute restaurant in the South of France, eating traditional food, and a band is playing for you in the back of a Classic VW parked in front of the place!  How awesome is that!?

Cliff, Stefan, and our Couchsurfing host, Erick at the restaurant.

After dinner we went for another drive, this time on the top of the hill that overlooks Nice from the east side.  This photo is of that hill!  As you can see, there are some pretty damn nice houses up there....kinda like a little Beverly Hills thing going on.

The view from about halfway up the hill looking back on the coast of Nice during sunset!

Another view of the coast of Nice during sunset.  The breakwater you see is protecting the main port of the city, and yeah, there are some huge yachts in there!  Behind the breakwater is the majority of the coast of the city, and the long beach!

A view of the inland part of Nice.

Still moving up the hill that overlooks the city of Nice.  More nice houses perched on the side of the hill, with some fantastic views!

Getting close to the top!  We are on the far side of the mountain...Nice is behind us, in this photo we are looking at the town of Villefranche.

At the top of this hill, there is a cool ancient fort!  Sure it was used for something, but we can't remember.  Or maybe we never even knew!  We were just enjoying the view!  It looks great in the day, but really cool and sort of spooky lit up at night.

Turn around from the fort, and you get a nice view of Nice and the coast at night!

Sadly this photo didn't turn on the best, and you might be wondering why the hell did they put this photo on here!?  Well, you see that large block in the middle?  It's basically a giant cube over a giant head!  So you can see the shoulders, neck and chin of a person, then the large block.  It looks cool, but the really cool part: it's not just for looks -- this is actually an office building!  People really work in that block head!