Last April, Mom and I decided to try a new cruise line. MSC had an itinerary that appealed to both of us with several ports I had never been to before. In addition, the MSC Meraviglia will be moving to Miami next year so I really wanted to try it in case it became a new option for family vacations.
This trip started in Genoa, Italy and ended in Kiel (Hamburg), Germany. Once we booked the cruise, we then had to decide how to get to Genoa. After doing a bunch of research, I came up with two options: Fly into Milan, a city I had never been to before; or fly into Nice, a city I absolutely adore.
Milan is closer, only about a 30 minute train ride from Genoa verses a three hour trip from Nice, and the flights to either Nice or Milan were comparable (meaning we had to connect no matter what) so that was a wash.
In the end, we decided on Nice. I really wanted to spend a bit more time here since my last trip was spent on a day trip to Eze, Cannes, and Monaco with the rest of the day in Villefranche-sur-Mer. I booked an AirBnb near the train station for a ridiculously reasonable price and kept watch for when the train tickets went on sale. When they did, about three months ahead of my travel dates, I booked them too.
We arrived on a Sunday mid day and grabbed a taxi from the airport to the AirBnb. My host had sent instructions on how to get from the airport to the apartment via the bus, but lugging a massive amount of luggage on a public bus after a collective 20 hours of travel was just not something I was up for…I would, however lug those same massive bags on a public bus in Germany, so stay tuned!
When we arrived at the apartment, the host (or maybe his uncle/father/brother/friend) was there to meet us. My French is pretty good, but he was a little vague on the relationship. Whatever it was, he was super sweet and helpful. I was excited about this apartment because it was directly above a pizzeria and I figured we could just run down and get some whenever we wanted. That didn’t exactly work out as planned!
You see, the pizzeria is only open on certain days of the week, when the pizza maker is in. On other days it is just a small grocery store…handy, but not a pizzeria. That meant that once we dropped off our luggage and were shown around the apartment, we had to head out to find some food…also so we wouldn’t fall asleep! The neighborhood is undergoing a bit of redevelopment so construction is all around which makes for some closed sidewalks and tricky crossings, but within minutes we were on the main promenade and headed for food!
We were happy just to wander for a while and see what was around, but then the rain started. We decided on that restaurant…right there! It happened to be a burger joint BenBurger, which was fine, we have had really good luck with burgers in France! The staff was lovely, all spoke English and didn’t laugh at my rusty French!
Well I am happy to say that my luck with burgers in France stands! My burger was excellent and the fries were very tasty as well! After this, the rain had stopped so we headed back to the apartment. We did stop at the little grocery store for some wine and crackers to keep in the apartment. I am constantly amazed at the price of wine in Europe…Its enough to make ya want to move there!
Despite my best efforts…I fell asleep pretty quickly. We did not have any plans for the next day: wander around, drink French wine, eat French food, etc. The one thing we did decide to do was to see the Musée National Marc Chagall. It was close, mom likes art museums, why not. It was…interesting, and busy! Plenty of people there wandering around. Made it almost difficult to take selfies with the artwork! But I managed!
I am by no means an art aficionado, in fact if you can’t have fun with it, I am not interested at all. I do not take selfies with the art to disrespect, but to be a part of it. Not to mention, its the only way anyone will ever know I went on vacation as I am the family photog so if I want to be in any of the pictures my only choice is the selfie!
Moving on from the museum, we decided stop back at the apartment to drop off our sweaters (it was getting a bit warm) and walk down to Promenade des Anglais, about a 15-20 minute walk from the apartment. Along the way we stopped at a super cute park with fountains and playgrounds and plenty of places to sit for picnics.
We then continued on to the beach. While it was certainly warming up, it was not at all warm enough for me to get in the water, but plenty of people thought it was fine judging by the sunbathers and swimmers. We walked along the Promenade for a while, just enjoying the weather and being in Nice.
Eventually we turned off the Promenade and began looking for a likely lunch spot. We wandered through some back streets and eventually ended up at an Italian restaurant of all places, La Trattoria. It is a cute little restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, paper tablecloths and a solid menu. I had the Reine Blanche pizza and it was fantastic! I really wanted to try some of their entrees / pastas but I just wasn’t feeling hungry enough for it. In fact, I took half home and ate it for dinner!
After lunch we continued walking along the street, browsing shops and just basically meandering around. We walked all the way to the Marina, then turned back to pick up the Promenade again. All in all, we walked nearly 7.5 miles that day…Didn’t seem as bad in Nice for some reason!
We made it back to the apartment, stopping along the way for an Aperol Spritz. We dropped into our little grocery store for another bottle of wine, then crashed on the couch for the evening. Of course this was the night that Notre Dame caught fire so we watched in horror on French TV with the rest of the world. The next morning, we were up bright and early to walk the five minutes to the train station. On to Genoa and our first MSC Cruise!
Our train ride was an event! Certainly comfortable and convenient. However, we broke down about 10 minutes from Genoa and had to wait for a rescue engine to come take us the rest of the way. We ended up about an hour late, but still in plenty of time to board…But that is a whole ‘nother story! Until next time – à la prochaine!