My next stop was Nice, France. I still haven’t decided if Nice was so magical because *helloooo* its the French Riviera, or if its because it was the first place I ever traveled entirely on my own. Either way, the 5 days I spent in Nice were some of the most wonderful days of my life.
Upon my tearful departure from my Workaway host family, I checked into my hostel and walked into my 6 bunk room at the Antares Hostel. I had never stayed in a hostel before so I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but from Youtube videos I was expecting a lot of sketchy people trying to steal my stuff… totally not true. I immediately made friends with a girl in my room from Australia (in fact I met an Australian everywhere I went) and we went next door to buy a bottle of wine for 2 euros. It was definitely the worst rosé I’ve ever had but it was 2 euros ($2.35) so I had nothing to complain about.
The hostel offered free wine & charcuterie every night at 7, and each night it brought out a new crowd of travelers and evening plans. On my first night there was a group from our hostel going on a bar crawl and I, having never been on one, decided HECK YES. It was only 15 euros! The crawl was crazy just as expected and despite all of the drunk people (also just as expected) my new friends and I had a really great time. It was an awesome way to see the “downtown” area of Nice and how all of the little streets connected.
The true gem of Nice, though, is the BEACH. I know that many people believe “if you’ve seen once beach, you’ve seen them all” – but truly I tell you there is nothing like beaches in Europe. They are all so unique and the water is so CLEAR! Note below:
I grew up going to the beach in California and the water there is always so dark I can’t even see my stomach barely under the surface. What is even better about Nice beaches is that they are pebble beaches which means no sand in your nooks and crannies! The pebbles aren’t the best to lay out on or walk on barefoot, and wading into the water can sometimes be painful but I’ll take that over spraying off 20 times and still finding sand in my butt. One solution to this I found was buying a little straw mat sold by the tourist shops along the boardwalk, or the promenade des anglais, as it is formally known. They are put out in buckets – trust me you won’t miss them- and are only a few euros. I don’t remember how much exactly, but definitely less than 8 euros per mat. Not to be dramatic, but the mat saved my life. Also because it was so cheap I didn’t mind leaving them to people still staying at the hostel after I left because they wouldn’t fit in my little bag.
The main attraction “tourist” part of Nice is actually quite small, and I think that is why I took such a liking for it. I could walk anywhere I wanted to go…some places further than others…but Lord knows I needed to walk off all of the gelato, pizza and crepes I had been eating all the time. Speaking of walking it off! On my first official morning here a friend I met in my hostel and I went to Castle Hill to see a really great view of the top of Nice and the coastline. There was an option to simply walk up a ton of stairs and see nothing beautiful in the process, or walk though that park at a slight uphill gradient and enjoy nature. We chose the second option and it reminded me a lot of what central park must be like. I have never been there, but just imagine a big city surrounding a very green park with huge trees, runners, cyclists and walkers all around.
Here’s the view from the top! It really is amazing and something you should definitely do if you ever find yourself in Nice. There isn’t much else to do besides the beach, so surely there will be time. Right around the corner from this look out spot there was a really fun looking Zumba class going on playing all of the latest hits and a cute little restaurant just next to that. We took the stairs back down (because it was faster) and wound up at an adorable little quarter in Old Town with a lovely church, tons of restaurants and of course live music. We got ice cream at Fennocchio Glacier and I was so, so very pleased. No ice cream in Europe is bad ice cream, but this was truly top notch. They had so many different flavors like cactus, melon, pistachio etc; I opted for watermelon and blackberry sorbet. I find sorbet so much more refreshing in the hot summer months and this definitely fulfilled all of my sorbet needs and wishes.
All in all, I had a wonderful time in Nice. Sightseeing was so much fun but what made it memorable was the people I met when I’d get back to the hostel from a full day of walking & beaching. The hostel where I stayed had a shared kitchen & common area patio with the adjacent hostel so mingling was x2! I rubbed elbows with people from Isreal, Germany, Canada, other states in the US, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland + more! Although none of these friendships were ones that continued on after our departures, they made traveling solo so much easier. We shared wine, meals, sunburns and beach mats together for the time we saw each other, and after that went on to new adventures and new people.
Next stop: Paris! Let’s see how many months it takes me to write this one.