Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Travel: Nice- Day Two

I thought i should mention just incase- Just click on the pictures if you want to see a larger copy of them x

Nice little sleep and down to breakfast. I love hotel breakfasts. I don’t know what makes me go so mad. Normally I just have one slice of toast or a yoghurt at home but when in front of that breakfast buffet it’s like yes, I shall go up for my third croissant course before starting on the cheese and cold cut meats.

Breakfast was really nice there. Small breakfast room but a nice selection of things. Really nice little garlicky roasted sausage (no bacon in sight actually), cold salami and ham, scrambled and hard boiled eggs (didn’t go for it as I don’t like the way eggs are done in hotels). Nice yoghurts, croissants, pan au chocolates, orange juice, cereal and bread rolls. Good coffee too, which Is good because that’s where hotels often go wrong. Hotels end up having a massive buffet selection but then their coffee is awful. And really im a coffee addict, I’m better than I used to be (used to have 3 Venti Starbucks black coffees a day) but sometimes I could do without breakfast or snacks as long as I can have a good cup of Joe.

We went to find the train station and on the way we went past a really Fab looking organic fruit and vegetable market. Very scrummy looking produce, dark red strawberries, big artichokes, round purple aubergines, funny wrinkly beef tomatoes. When we got to the train station we found out that at the moment there is a train strike going on in France. Great! Our plan for the day was to get on a country train and head up north to the beautiful mountain towns near Nice. Because of the strike we couldn’t go as far as we wanted- or for as long as we wanted- but we ended up going to a medieval walled town called Entrevaux, on a nice slow train under the small rail company Chemins de Fer de Provence.

We had a little time before the train, so we had a lunch at a nice cafĂ© nearby. Felt like something light, so we both split a main course ‘Lasagne de legume’ which was basically a vegetable lasagne with goats cheese and a main course tomato, mozzarella and olive salad. Here, every so often, the man at the open counter would take this massive handled pizza pan out of the oven, with a flat omlettey looking thing on it. It is called ‘Socca’. Actually I just wikipedia’d it and I realised that it’s basically like a savoury crepe made of chickpea flour. Oh man, I didn’t order it cause I thought it was eggy!!!(I’m kinda intolerant to eggs). Well it looked delicious anyway, and it was cheap, it’s a type of street food. As is something called ‘Pissaladiere’. It’s a pizza base, with caramelised garlicky herby onions, and also black olives or anchovies (or both) on top. Unfortunately I tried neither whilst I was there. Heres a good picture example of it that I got from Wikipedia:

When I’m on holiday I usually just have three rather large meals a day, meaning that I never really snack, and I wouldn’t really treat Pissaladiere as an actual main course. I may try and make a version at home at some point, as my mum was saying she would love it if I had a go at making pizza dough, so we can make nice homemade pizzas at home with lush toppings.

So we got the train and the trip was lovely, the scenery- beautiful. Im not sure whether it was the train strike or not, but for some reason a couple of times we got off the train and (with the train driver in tow) got onto a bus and then travelled on that for a bit, and then got back on the train. I have a feeling though that it might just be because of the mountainous region- that it was impossible to put train tracks through certain points. Here are a few nice photos of the way there, including a very scary looking hopefully- not-still-used bridge.

Now then. Here is what Entrevaux looks like (ignore the green railings got em in by accident, you CAN get into the village, lol)

We did not have enough time to walk up to that big fort at the top unfortunately (because of the last train back being fairly early, due to ruddy train strike) but we wandered around the village which was really cool. Most of it looks like this.

Nick said he’d never been anywhere like it. Really old and very quiet, not many people around. Nick decided he would take about 100 “arty” photos of all the cool ancient doors. Here is a funky looking one that happily I found a very friendly moggy in front of.

There was a nice cathedral here, 16th century- not sure what it was called but it was dedicated to The Virgin Mary, I remember that. As you can see it’s so beautiful and colourful inside as well. There is also an old motorcycle museum there (that was closed whilst we were there unfortunately) and we found out in Mid-August sometime there is a big impressive looking Medieval Fete which might make Entreveux worth even more of a journey, if you ever visit Nice or somewhere close.

I had a really nice time in Entrevaux, it was really interesting and eerie at the same time. This is just me, and a picture of the view on the way back.

After getting back and dressed for dinner, we went to this fresh ravioli place (called "Le Mascot") that we spotted on our way to the train station. It looked basic and homely from the outside, and was still very near to the hotel. Also me and Nick have had good experiences of fresh ravioli joints. When we were in Venice and we had wandered about for many hours, we found this really out of way in-a-dark-alley kinda place, that turned out to serve fresh ravioli. For some reason all the waiters were Hawaiian or from Maui or something , which was strange to find in the middle of Italy. We had this beautiful pasta, I chose the beef and age ravioli whilst he chose the roast red chicory (which seem to be a speciality of Venice because I can’t find it in the U.K- it’s delicious) ravioli and it was amazing.

Well at this place we shared a platter of beef ravioli with tomato sauce and “Bolet” (a type of French wild mushroom) ravioli and both were lovely. I mean, I couldn’t be sure whether they were fresh or not, and was slightly doubtful due to the size of the ravioli (they were very small- homemade ravioli in restaurants are usually made bigger as it doesn’t take as long to prepare compared to making many little ones) and the occasional ‘ding!’ we heard before serving. Nothing wrong with microwaves, pretty much every kitchen I’ve worked in has one- they are very useful for heating up things quickly, or melting butter and stuff. But just gave me a few doubts. They were delicious anyway- fresh or not. We had some nice wine as well. In a lot of restaurants in Nice if you ask for the house red/white/rose it is served in a carafe (250 or 500ml). First of all I think that the house wines I have ordered in France have always been much nicer than the house wines we have in England. In Nice I recommend ordering Rose, all the Rose’s i had in Provence were delicious.

We then went to bed, to get ready to a vaguely early morning- due to the fact we were making sure we wouldn’t miss the train to Italy the next day- There only being one going out there the next day, due to the train strike. We also (just before bed) had some really nice yellow juicy plum things and they were gorgeaus! Not sure what they were exactly, the colour of an apricot, the size of a plum, taste similar to a greengage.

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