Sunday, April 25, 2010

Travel: Nice- Day Three

So after another lovely breakfast, we posted our postcards and went to the train station again. On our way we bought a baguette, some Swiss cheese-kinda stuff, salami, garlic cream cheese, butter and a HUGE braeburn apple. The fruit you get when you are abroad are always massive aren’t they? I remember when I went to Naples seeing watermelons that were so massive you couldn’t even fit it into the boot of your car, and peaches in the Barcelona markets, double-maybe triple the size of the ones we get here. Anyway, we bought all that stuff so we could have a picnic when we got to our destination.

We were heading off to a place called “Vintimiglia”, which is right on the border of Italy- on the train journey we went through Monaco and Monte Carlo. Beautiful views on the way there, really. The beaches start to get a little nicer heading along that way as well- the beaches in Nice are clean but they are very pebbly.

When we got off the train we walked around a bit, went down to the beach to have a look, and eventually found a really nice park fairly near the coast. We had read that there were supposed to be a huge botanical garden in Vintimiglia, but when we saw a map we realised that the gardens are slightly out of town. If you had rented a car I reckon it would be well worth a visit. Anyway, we had our lush little picnic and after that I had a spot of sunbathing. Gorgeous weather. Course it still didn’t make a difference, I still have a similar complexion to that sullen vampire boy that everyone seems to fancy at the moment. Can’t see it myself.

After that we went for a big long wandering walk through the old parts of the town. There were two big churches/cathedrals there, one of them was closed for some reason but the other one was pretty cool, really ancient looking. It wasn’t just a historical church, I noticed there were loads of beautiful flower garlands and a load of confetti outside so there must have been a wedding recently. Imagine getting married in this place! Amazing!

Right at the top of the town (as you can see some of the town is quite steep!) we found this amazing garden, with these totally weird looking houses. I mean, it’s part of a 16th or 17th century Italian fortification, and they just built a house in it! Didn’t change any of it! I think it looks a bit like those deserty houses in that Star Wars film- Phantom Menace I think. Oh in the garden photo, I am trying to tease a very skinny little cat towards me.

We walked down to the coast again and walked along until we found a good bar. Lot’s of nice beach side bars here actually, which is something that is lacking in Nice. I honestly thought that, like all the other Mediterranean coastal places I’ve visited, that the Promenade de Anglais would be covered in nice bars but no, it’s a bit boring really, just a massive fairly wide pavement, with the very occasional expensive seafood restaurant. Anyway, this bar was so nice, we spent ages here. Sun, sea, sand, good beer and good company. Perfec! They gave us as a free compliment to our beer some tomatoey focaccia and some really tasty nibbly things- that we eventually figured out were corn kernels, that were crunchy and coated in a flavoursome (can’t really put my finger on the taste) powder. Couldn’t stop eating those, maybe there was a bit of the MSG factor in there but whatever, I didn’t mind. If I cared about MSG then I wouldn’t have worked for Wagamamas for nine months! (There is MSG in almost EVERY single dish there. Seriously, there are only like three items on their menu that is msg free).

After chilling out we figured we should be heading back into town. We decided to do our present shopping! I always bring stuff back for my family, usually food. There were some really lovely shops/delis round there, I ended up buying: 1 bar pistachio dark chocolate, 1 bar crème brulee flavoured chocolate, 1 bar pecan chocolate (running theme here? Hah) a jar of really nice looking green pesto (that I have used in my Provencal pasta recipe, which I will post up in a few days. Really yummy) some vac-packed chilli oregano marinated green olives (totally spicy!!). I also bought THE BIGGEST PEPPER IN THE WORLD!!! It weighed over half a kilogram, and as you can see in this photo, it’s bigger than my face! We ended up giving it to our friend as a weird token gift for letting us stay with her a night in Paris (we bought her dinner as well, we aint that stingy).Oh and Nick got some really cute farfalle at this amazing pasta shop. Its coloured pink and green, it’s really sweet. Haven’t made anything with that yet, thinking of using the rest of the pesto I have and some purple sprouting broccoli maybe. Hmmm, not sure yet, you’ll find out sometime soon.

We then went for a little scout for a pizza place. Nick was being a little toddler-ish about it, he was like I don’t want anything else, I want to have a PIZZA because we are in ITALY. I don’t want anything else! I mean, Nick and I have been to Venice, but Nick feels that before now he has never been to “Italy”. I can totally understand that. I have been to Naples, and it just screams ‘Traditional Italy’. Venice is weird. I mean it is like one of my favourite cities in the world, but is not as over-the-top friendly as the rest of Italy, and it just doesn’t feel as Italian. Maybe because it used to be run by Austria? Anyway, so I had to tell him, listen, in Italy pizza isn’t as ‘traditional’ or popular as you might think. The usual menus you get have antipasti, then pasta, then meat/fish, then pudding and then cheese. As many courses as you can possible cram in. Which I love, being a very greedy girl. We searched in vain for a pizza place, and had to get on the train, because there wasn’t a later train due to the train strike. Felt a bit sad that we didn’t have a restaurant meal in Italy, but the picnic was very nice though.

So we went to the first pizza place we saw, near the hotel, (that I kinda thought was the one Trip advisor recommended, but it wasn’t- more on that later) ratings and OH MY GOD it was one of the worst meals (service wise) that me and my boyfriend have ever had. For starters I ordered the vegetable soup and nick ordered a salad Nicoise. What came, was a joke. My soup was basically orange looking vegetable water, which tasted of nothing, with some vegetables and pasta at the bottom that kinda tasted like they were ‘mixed frozen veg’ vegetables. Nick’s “Nicoise” was just not a Nicoise, it was basically limp iceberg lettuce with dry cucumber, slightly browning bits of celery, overcooked green beans, olives, and hard boiled eggs that have that funny grey ring round the yolk meaning that it isn’t very nice. There was no tuna, no anchovies or peppers or anything. So Nick failed to have a Nicoise salad in Nice, which was kinda sad. I may make one for him sometime soon, to make up for it. Not my kind of thing though, can’t stand fish.

After the first course, the fat moody French waiter just tipped the plates of our first course to allow the dirty cutlery to clatter back to the table, without saying a word, rather unsubtly sending us the message that we were to use the dirty cutlery for our second course. When our mains arrived, my spag bol was all right I guess. But I mean, I don’t think the portion was big enough, and also it’s not hard to make a good spaghetti Bolognese, so I’m not really singing their praises. Nick’s pizza was DREADFUL. He said even a 99p pre-made pizza base from Morrissons would have been better, and the pizza was covered with the grossest fattiest ham. And then the waiter deliberately ignored for like, half an hour, after asking for the bill twice, and it wasn’t even busy! Don’t know whether it was because he didn’t like us because we were English, but seriously, what a bad meal.

We settled up without giving a penny tip, and went back to the hotel for dessert. On the way back, we saw this AMAZING looking Italian restaurant, that turned out to be the place everyone was recommending on tripadvisor. We felt so bad that we didn’t see it on the way there! Absolutely gutted! At the hotel we had beer, and crisps and nice chocolaty biscuits. We got an early night because we were ‘supposed’ (although we didn’t know it was ‘supposed’ at that time) to be flying back to Blighty the next day. Little did we know…….

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