It was a relief to return our rental car in Nice. Driving along the Nice waterfront with the sun shining and loads of people out walking caused excitement to rise that this would be a fabulous city to visit. We arrived at Hertz Car Rental a few minutes before 1pm and so they had just closed for an hour lunch as most shops did. We filled time in by visiting the Tourist Information Centre and working out the public transport system. The drop off went well and we enjoyed chatting to the Hertz staff person who was from Finland. We didn’t need to meet the owner of the Nice apartment until 4:30pm so we had plenty of time up our sleeves. I went with the kids in search of lunch while Karen guarded our luggage; and later, came back with food from a Chinese Restaurant. After eating we loaded ourselves up with our gear and made our way to the Tram which fortunately was only about 5 minutes walk away – about the limit of our carrying ability.

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The tram was pretty full so it was quite an effort getting everything (and everyone) on board, our tickets in the machine, and hold of something to avoid losing our balance. It was a short trip so after only about 4 stops we disembarked at Vieille Ville Opera then walked as per google maps to the pedestrian-only street of our apartment right in the middle of the old city. I immediately recognised the street from google street view and we found the apartment and a nearby space to off-load our packs. We were an hour early to meet the owner, we are rarely late these days, and I spent most of that time smelling coffee from a Café directly opposite our apartment and trying to call the owner whose number I had once again entered incorrectly into my phone. You really should enter a + rather than a 00 for international numbers. Photo below of me at our local cafe and across the pedestrian-only street (3 metres wide) looking up at our apartment. Look carefully and you will see Amy and Daniel peering out.

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Nick turned up right on 4:30pm as arranged. It was nice to have him help lug our bags the three flights of stairs to the apartment. We settled in pretty fast and then went out to a small supermarket to find food for dinner and breakfast the next day. A full shop could wait until we had more energy. The apartment was perfect for us and couldn’t have been better located. It even had a TV with 500 or so videos stored on its hard drive – unfortunately we only had time to watch one movie the whole time we were there. We loved living in the middle of the old city and watching people go past. It was also very convenient being able to walk 5 metres to get a good coffee. Also having well-priced rotisserie chickens only 20 meters away meant we had them for dinner two nights while in Nice. Although the apartment only had one main bedroom the lounge/kitchen area was a good size and we avoided tripping over each other. Aside from the location other added bonuses were a good shower with plenty of hot water, good internet (so the kids could do reading and maths online) and free telephone calls. Photos below taken in our street.

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We had purchased a 7 day public transport card for each of us so we used the tram as much as we could. Each pass was 15 euros and since a tram trip costs 1 euro without the card we needed to take at least 15 trams to make it worthwhile. We tried hard but I doubt we reached our goal of15 rides; however, it was nice to be able to get on and off the tram anytime we wanted to. We also did a fair bit of walking around Nice Streets. One day we walked down through the old city to the sea, and along the water front in search of a museum that was no longer operating. Then we took a lift a 100 metres or so up a cliff to a park. In theory we could have walked up the stairs but that would be asking for grizzly kids. Here are some of the views from the park:

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Another day we went to the Museum of Modern Art, the sort of art that never fails to astonish you that someone thinks it really is art. There were a few works that I actually liked such as the cross-sectional cutting of various musical instruments.

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We also went to a Museum of the Curiosity and the Bizarre and watched a magic show which the kids took part in. The museum didn’t eventuate as we thought it was free but it ended up being rather expensive.

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I had a wonderful 45-minute run from our apartment down to the sea then along the water front. I ran alongside some other guy, caught in his jet stream, which helped me keep going. Then I ran back toward the hillside and had a 3 minute pause as I rode the lift up to the park (rather than running up the stairs which I thought would prevent me from making it home without collapsing). One run, one more week of coffee – that’s the rule.

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On the Saturday we went to Monaco and had a brilliant time (see the blog). Sunday was a perfect sunny day for a visit to Phoenix Park which the kids were very excited to go to as it’s more like a zoo with animals all around the place:

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By Monday we were tired of sightseeing (or perhaps the late nights working on the computer) so we decided not to go out of town and to just walk around, find a post office and post some stuff home at a cost of 50 euros (NZD80 or so) to make us 5 kgs lighter. Wandering around the city we found a slick looking Nescafe Coffee outlet where you could buy your coffee sachets (can’t remember what they are called now). This is the first shop I have seen like this since reading about them in Time magazine back in New Zealand last year. Nescafe’s marketing of coffee in this way is an impressive innovation: the array of flavours, colourful packaging and seasonal new releases make the displays look like a kaleidoscope.

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Nice is certainly a city I would like to return to someday.

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A French character with a wide moustache popped uninvited into our photo!

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(Week 9B-10A: Tuesday 17th April – Tuesday 24th April)