Thursday, March 27, 2014

Scenes from around Nice, France

[Disclaimer:  This is mostly a travel post.  Just a heads up.  If you're not interested, well then, why don't you start your own blog... I decided to write this stuff! :) ]

Last night I took a break from working to go out and grab some dinner.  Since I have been having a lot of meals in my little hotel room, dinner last night was my first real meal out in France.

I have been Google-ing some different meals and things to do in Nice since I arrived here and one of the main things that came up that I needed to try in Nice was something called "socca."  According to Wikipedia, where all good, worldly information can be found, socca is common of the Ligurian sea coast, and goes by different names... essentially consisting of a chickpea flour pancake or crepe.  I read about it on Yelp and learned one of the most popular places to get socca in Nice was a little wood oven-fired place a short walk from my hotel.  Some key words in there were "pancake," "crepe," and "wood oven" -- so I was basically sold.

After giving them a call to make sure they were open, I walked over -- which was interesting in itself, because Nice, although wonderful, just seemed totally dead.  It was such a ghost town I had a hard time imagining it busier, but I am sure in the summer and warmer months it is packed.

When I got to the socca place, I first sat down at an open table, but when a waiter arrived, I was told that you ordered food from a little counter to the street, then sat down, and only ordered drinks from the waiter.

Okay, no problem.  I could do that.  So I went over to browse the windows where the food was and saw these different pita bread looking things filled with meat and cheeses and vegetables and delicious looking things so I got super excited.  I carefully read through the descriptions, asked the girls working there which was their favorite, and picked one out that had a prosciutto type meat and mushrooms inside.  The girls toasted it up for me, wrapped it up, and I went to go sit down, get a glass of wine, and eat my socca!

Then I looked around a little bit and realized that NOBODY was eating what I had just ordered and they all had this scraped up pile of stuff in front of them.  Interesting.  I went back and inspected further and realized that what I had thought was the socca, was not in fact, the traditional Nice dish, but just like, a French pizza thing.  Woops.

Socca, was came on this giant pizza looking tray and was served up by scraping the chickpea flour pancake thing off the bottom of the pan, and just folded up and flopped on top of a plastic plate.

Appetizing, huh?

I sat down and ordered a glass of wine and dug into my plate of socca, but I have to say I wasn't really impressed.  It didn't have a ton of flavor, so I loaded it with pepper and some salt.  The burnt pieces tasted like burnt stuff.  And it just all around... wasn't really that cool.  However, for some reason I felt bad not liking it so I ate it all anyways and then brought home my I-wish-it-was-socca pizza thing to have for lunch today.  After I took a bite of it when I got home...

This morning wasn't a running day for me but I still got up early started my day.  I am really trying to get into a routine this week of being on a schedule, that I am hoping will somewhat stick through next week.  Since the marathon is early in the morning on Sunday, I want my body to be used to being up early.

I started my day by stopping at the same "Coffee To Go" place that I had been to the day before after my run.  When I walked in this morning, the woman who worked there and had served me the day before looked up and said, "Ah! You're the pastry girl! From yesterday!" Now seriously, I've been in France for 2 days.  How am I already earning the nickname "pastry girl?" :)

It was funny though and what's ironic is that I actually didn't even buy any pastries yesterday (or today for that matter!)  But when I got the coffee yesterday, she noticed me eyeing the pastries and asked if I wanted anything else.  I said no, but responded that maybe I would come back because "I had been dreaming about French pastries for months!"

When I was in the store getting my coffee today, she also commented/asked that I had gone running yesterday.  I responded yes, since I been in the coffee shop right after my run, and explained that I am running the Paris Marathon next week and she was impressed!  I told her that because I like pastries so much, I need to run a lot :) We ended up having a really great conversation about running and shes said she wants to do her first half marathon next year.  She asked how often I train, when I started running, etc. and it was a great way to start the day, and I'm looking forward to returning tomorrow for a coffee after my run!

I decided to go to see the Nice flower market, which I read starts early anyways.  Whatever I read said that you should get there around 6:00 a.m. but that is totally false because I got there at 8:30/9 and they were just setting up!  Maybe it's because it's the off season, but even so, that was way off!

The flower market had gorgeous flowers, but also lots of lavender, fresh fruit and vegetables, olives, tapenades, soaps, etc.  Apparently lavender is a big thing in Southern France as it is where a lot of lavender is grown, so that's the "go-to" gift or souvenir for the most part.

I wandered the market for a bit and then just roamed the streets as Nice seemed to be waking up.  The stores were setting up their outdoor stands, bakeries and meat markets were bustling, etc.  It was great to just explore and check out some of the cool streets and shops in a busier part of town.  I thought this little street and section of narrow homes was so odd!

And nobody loves carousel's more than Europeans.  This one was double decker!

Did I mention that there were meat shops out and about?  Anyone hungry?

I have no idea what is inside of that pic, but I will tell you, that is one thing that is NOT appetizing to me!  But you know what is?  Meringue.  I love me a good meringue cookie.  I snagged one from a bakery and resisted the urge to eat it right then but saved it for later in the day.  This might not seem like much, but that is a win for me!

And I also ran into what I thought was the most adorable, well maintained, most creative park I have ever seen!  Check out all this playground equipment.  It is all themed around oceans, marine life, pirates, etc.  It takes the fun of a children's park and makes it even more exciting and adventurous!

So those are some of the highlights from my walk this morning!  It was really pleasant and gave me a good idea of the places that I want to check out more on Saturday when I have the whole day free.  There were some pretty cute clothing shops that I think I need to wander in to.

I spent the rest of the day working, having the same cereal and berries combination for breakfast, followed by the I-wish-it-was-socca pizza thing (which, was delicious) for lunch, and a giant meringue cookie for a snack.  For dinner, I stopped by the grocery store just down the road and picked up some salad, bread, 1/2 a roast chicken, water, and some wine.  There's no way I am going to finish the wine, but it was 2.50 euro!  Hellooooo, Europe.

I don't know why I sort of felt the need to do an extensive amount of grocery shopping.  I mean, I guess it wasn't extensive.  But, I have to check out of this hotel tomorrow to a smaller, cheaper one that I am in for the weekend.  I am a little overwhelmed thinking of how I am going to make that transition with all my luggage, and then also leftover chicken, salad, wine, water, cereal, milk, and all the other randomness I felt the need to buy at the grocery.  My fridge here looks pretty much like how my fridge looks like at home usually.

Because I am a little stressed about all the food I've accumulated, I will probably spend tomorrow morning trying to eat it all.  Which, I need to not do.  I sort of had a mini panic attack looking in the mirror a little while ago because my belly and midsection in general is definitely a bit rounder than when I left for Europe!  I will work to get back in shape once I am home, but it is a big panicky to see after I'd been working so hard in January and February to clean up my act.  Oh, and I have to carry that extra weight 26.2 miles!!!!

And while I am sharing photos and observations, I figured I would share these pictures.  I actually took them yesterday when I came back from my run, but didn't see where they fit into my post.  However, now I've written an excessively long entry that is really just a ramble of photos, and I've had that glass of wine so I am feeling more generous in sharing ridiculous photos.  Also, if you are still reading at this point, you deserve a present.  So here it goes.

My hotel has these giant weird statue things all over that scare me every time I see them.

When I got back from my run, I was still on that giddy runner's high and feeling silly so I decided to take a picture with the statue.  Also, I am a weirdo and that's what I do when I see things like this.

And then I decided to take another goofy picture and the result is slighting terrifying, slightly hysterical and 100% embarrassing...

Whhhhyyy am I SO creepy, you guys?  Oh my gosh. I can't even look at that, haha.  AND, the best part about this series of photos is that after I took them and was looking at them shuddering laughing, I realized that a couple had come out of their room a little down the hall and was just STARING at me.  Not amused.  Not entertained.  Just, blank faces.

I turned and walked into my room, hoping to never see them again in my life.

And with that, I am going to go to bed.  Hope you had a great Thursday!


  1. So, I went to Nice in July of....2006? I think. I was backpacking and stayed in some random hostel in the hills that was super far away from everything. Like, past the end of the very last bus stop.

    Nice was SO freaking packed. SO hot. SO expensive. Wall to wall people EVERYWHERE. Beach PACKED. It was way worse than Southern California in summer because of the sheer volume of street traffic. I didn't really care for it at all and felt like I saw nothing because EVERYTHING was packed. My best memory is of sitting in the air conditioning at McDonalds while two english-speaking travelers were camped out in the booth next to me, using the free wifi.

    Yes, it is way more crowded in Summer! LOL And you had a way better Nice experience than me because of it! For sure!

    I knew you were building up to a Marathon but I hadn't caught on or read that you were doing the Paris Marathon. That is amazing! NYC Marathon would be my first choice, and Paris as my second. I just grew up hearing about the NY race and so that's the dream that will never be fulfilled. (I have really terrible knees. I'm hoping against hope that I can get good enough to do a 1/2 marathon without ruining what cartilage I have left!)

    1. Hey Emily -- yes, I do think that I had a great time in Nice despite it being a little dead :) Towards the weekend it picked up and I really enjoyed it there. Now that I am in Paris I am obsessed though! Also, one of my friends that I am running the marathon with on Sunday has terrible knees too. She SWEARS by hot yoga and says she cannot run without it. She did her first marathon last year and this will be her second. She does hot yoga before and after, researchs where to go in cities she travels to, etc. I swear, she could be a spokesperson. But just wanted to suggest that if you have never tried it! I know everyone is different, but worth a shot!

  2. Also, I wondered, what language did you speak to all of these people in? Are you fluent in French and Turkish or just lucked out with English speakers??

    1. My aunt just asked me this same question on Facebook. I speak hello and thank you in French and that's about all :) I have been lucky enough to have native speakers who have handled languages for me in Turkey, Romania, Spain, etc. and when I was by myself relied on speaking English, hand gestures, and some Google Translate. I speak moderate Italian which helps with romance languages too!