Day 1: We rolled in to the colorful, cool, Miami-esque town of Nice in the afternoon. Immediately I was struck by the colors. Aqua water, impossibly blue sky, cool old pastel buildings, and crisp white and pastel outfits. Which is just how I pictured the place, and why I packed specific “Nice” outfits in coral, bright stripes, and white. We checked in to Le Meridien and had a room with great ocean view. We strolled around the Old City of Nice and I was super charmed by the feel of the town, but most of all – the colors! We chose Nice for a stay over nearby Monaco and Monte Carlo because we heard it was a tad cheaper and fairly lively. (Still, crazy expensive, though). We ate lunch at somewhere not so memorable and I likely had my tenth chevre salad of the trip. (In France, they lightly melt goat cheese on little slices of toasted bread and place those atop the salad – yummers). For dinner we walked back to the Old City and ate in bustling square at a really good restaurant called Le Papayou and I had a wonderfully buttery, creamy mushroom risotto.
Day 2: I woke up ready to celebrate my birthday in beautiful sunny Nice. Mr.YemenEm had several voicemails from his mom with the very sad news that her father (Mr.YemenEm’s beloved grandpa, or Papa, as he calls him) had a stroke. So we started talking about how we might get home if there ended up being a funeral, but decided to wait to see what Papa’s condition was before cancelling the rest of our trip.
This was also the day that Mr.YemenEm had to do laundry. We are very different packers, him and I. When we set out on this trip, we expected to be in Europe for one month, then traveling around the U.S. for one month, and then in Washington DC for a few weeks before the rest of our clothes arrive from Yemen. That’s a long time to wear the same thing over and over, so I packed what would probably amount to three to four weeks of unique outfits, if I got really creative. Mr.YemenEm packed exactly enough underwear, shirts, and pants to make outfits for exactly seven days. By this point in the trip, laundry for him should have happened, like yesterday. So after much searching, we finally located a laundromat on one of the teensy winding streets in the Old City. I decided to kill the time when the clothes were in the machines by buying gourmet oils, truffle salt, and lavender soap. After that, we went to the sunny roofdeck of our hotel and indulged in way overpriced beers and salads for the rest of the afternoon.
Mr.YemenEm had booked us at the restaurant at the hotel for my birthday dinner, largely for the view. But after a scan of the menu, vegetarian options looked bleak. Our waitress suggested a salad, and I politely told her I didn’t want a salad for my birthday dinner. I wanted a honkin’ plate of creamy pasta, pizza, a bottle of wine, and a creme bruleé for dessert. She suggested we leave and go to one of two really good Italian restaurants in the Old City. Which we did, and it was awesome. We ate at La Voglia, a seemingly very popular spot with gigantic portions. We split an amazing pizza with mushroom, artichoke, and egg and also a four cheese pasta with a cream sauce, followed by tiramisu for dessert. Awesome dinner.
We had planned to stay in Nice for just two nights, but had a free night before we had to be in Cinque Terre, Italy, so decided to stay one more night in Nice.
Day 3: The news on Mr.YemenEm’s Papa on day three was that he was not in good shape, but he’d likely hang on for a while, so we figured we might not be going back to the States. We enjoyed the day touring the number one TripAdvisor ranked attraction in Nice – Castle Hill, a hill that includes the most breathtaking beautiful cemetery you’ll ever see, the foundations of a very old castle, and a few lookouts with epic views over Nice and the Mediterranean. I love to walk and walk, and that is certainly what we did. At some point we came back to our hotel, took a stellar nap, and then headed out for dinner. “What do you feel like tonight?” Mr.YemenEm asked. “Exactly what we had last night,” I replied. So we headed to the sister restaurant of La Voglia, called La Favola and I got the exact same pizza from the night before. I have thought about that pizza like every four hours since.
Day 4: On day four in Nice, we learned that Papa had died the night before. He was 92, a WWII vet, and I had the pleasure of hearing his very colorful stories about his time in Italy. Mr.YemenEm decided he wanted to be at the funeral in Florida. As he pointed out, Italy isn’t going anywhere, and once we live in Europe, it won’t be very difficult to get to. So we spent the morning cancelling the rental cars, B&Bs, and hotels for the Italy portion of the trip, as well as breaking the news to my friend that we wouldn’t make it to her wedding in eastern Italy at the end of the month. After we had most of that taken care of, we tried to enjoy our last day in Nice and found a free beach down the road (because the beach in front of our hotel cost 30 Euros per person, crazy) and spent the afternoon laying on the rocky beach, finishing our books, and gazing at the sea.
Early the following morning, we flew from Nice to Frankfurt, then to Miami where we rented a car and drove to Del Ray Beach. It was great to see Mr.YemenEm’s family and funeral was an intimate and loving tribute to Papa. Afterwards, Mr.YemenEm flew to Washington DC to be with his family for a while, and I flew to Detroit to see mine. I’ll be here for the next 10 days or so, watching my little nieces and luxuriating in having a kitchen in which to cook. At the end of the month, Mr.YemenEm and I will reunite and embark on our U.S. Friends and Family Tour.
A few observations about being back in the U.S.: I noticed it right away in Florida, but damn, are Americans a friendly folk. Everyone seems very interested in chatting with strangers and this is taking me a little bit to get used to. On the flight back to Michigan, my seat mate was terrified of flying and she told me that right away. I spent the rest of the short flight trying to keep her mind off the fact that we were 25,000 feet in the air. This included buying her a glass of wine. After drinking half, she declared “Wooheeee! This wine is STRONG! This is so strong! Girl, I feel GOOD.” See, wine solves all problems, even a crippling fear of flight. Ah, I will miss our daily lunchtime glasses of wine and being on vacation in Europe (and Mr.YemenEm are spending our first days apart in about 10 months). But being with my family in springtime Michigan is pretty darn great. And being back in America is awesome.
To being back on U.S. soil,