Monday, March 16, 2009

Nice: Part One, Sunset & Pastry

10:30AM March 15

The girls had gone to a contemporary art museum in the morning, and I met them at a restaurant across the street where I enjoyed the most wonderful gnocchi with pesto. The potato was so light and fluffy, as only the French could do it. We then headed up the hill towards a park and set of museums to the north of the city. The weather was just so gorgeous: sunny with puffy cumulus clouds and seventy degrees during the day.

Entering the park through a set of ruins

The Matisse Museum at the far end of the park

We went in the Matisse Museum. My favorite pieces were definitely the the paper cutouts he did. There was at least one room that showed his evolution through painting which was really fascinating, as his style completely changed many times over throughout his life, moving from impressionism, to pointillism, and then to more abstract works.

Afterwards, we went and enjoyed the surrounding park and church gardens. It was really beautiful. I haven't seen nearly as many flowers in Italy. Next to the church was Matisse's grave, and from the top of the hill, you could see all the way down to the port. One of my favorite parts of this park was the gravel patch in the trees set aside for bocci. There were so many people who were into it. They didn't need official courts, as they would redraw a foot-line before every game. I don't know how they could differentiate between their balls though, as they were all silver. I've never seen bocci taken so seriously before.

The monastery gardens next to the Matisse Museum

Walking through the park

Intense bocci

Roman bathhouse

Brittany, standing amidst the ruins.

We next walked around an old Roman bath house there by the archeology museum for a while and eventually headed back into town. I'd been up for some thirty-five hours by that point, but somehow I wasn't too tired as I must have regained a lot of my energy sitting around on the train the night before. Many of the girls were though, and they went back for a nap at the hotel. In the meantime, Jaimie and I bought two pastries and headed out to the lighthouse to eat them while watching the sunset. It was one of the best sunsets I've ever seen, and the pastries were probably the best I've ever eaten. We got an extremely rich chocolate ball of sorts with a coffee filling, and to complement it, we got something similar to a cream puff. They were simply delectable. This was probably my favorite part of the trip.

The lighthouse

The best pastries ever!

And the best sunset

After our pastry we walked back towards town, hoping to see what the others' plans were, when we got a message from them saying that they'd already found a restaurant and were eating. Jaimie and I decided to walk around a bit more, as we were not starving, and then we settled at what we deemed was an appropriately French restaurant--we were the only English speakers in the place. We split a three course meal or roasted vegetables, duck (canard) in broth with potatoes, and creme brulee. It was all really fabulous, and a nice end to my neverending day. All told, by the time I got to sleep, I was up for thirty-nine hours, far surpassing any previous record of mine.

Nice beach

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