Venice was surprisingly cold and rainy (and snowy) during the week that we were there, except for the day that we arrived, so there only a few images to see. Never the less. We have always loved Venice. You can see what images we have here
I'm back, sorry for the long silence.
We took a trip into Italy to celebrate Raquel's birthday. We took the train from Antibes to Ventimigla, Italy (just inside the italian border) and then purchased tickets to Milan. I have learned that doing this is a cheaper way to purchase tickets than buying everything from the French or Italian systems. For instance, if you purchased the ticket from the French system from Antibes, France to Milan, Italy the least expensive price would be 43.30 Euros. The same trip would only cost a total of 32.55 Euros if you purchase the ticket separately (10.30 from Antibes to Ventimiglia and 22.25 from Ventimiglia to Milan). It's not a huge savings, just over 10 Euros per person, but there's no down side to doing it so why not.
We stayed in a pretty nice apartment close to the train station in Milan. It was about a 30-40 minute walk to the tourist areas of the city, so a place closer to the tourist areas might have been better, but it was a quiet neighborhood and it allowed us to catch an early train to Venice when we left. Milan was a bit of a let down for me. It was a big town and didn't have the Italian charm of other cities we've visited.
The Cathedral was certainly the highlight for me, It was right next to the Galleria, so we saw both with in a few hours. There was a kids carnival that was going on in front of the Duomo, so there were tons of kids dressed as all sorts of things. After that there just wasn't much else. We walked around the Brera neighborhood, and visited a few churches, before having a nice meal at the restaurante Nabucco.
You can see some more images here
We decided to visit the medieval walled town of Vence that is located a little inland from the coast. From Antibes, we took the number 200 bus to Cagnes-sur-Mer and then the number 400 bus to Vence. The bus dropped us off in the new town, but it was a short walk to the old town.
We arrived on market day and strolled the market in the main square before heading into the old walled part of town. The offerings of the market are pretty standard for most of these markets. You can usually get fresh vegetables, local honey, cured meats and locally made cheeses. Most of these markets also offer clothes and shoes etc... Inside the old walls there were more market stalls set up selling coats, house wares, pots and pans, carpets and pretty much anything you would need or want. Yep, here Walmart comes to you. See a few images here.
We left the market and walked the narrow streets of the old town. There were plenty of narrow cobbled streets that you could get lost in, some which date back to Roman times. Fortunately it's a really small town, so even if you do get lost, it's easy to find yourself again. There is a lovely cathedral next to the town hall that has a nice mosaic by Marc Chagall. The cathedral is one of the smallest in France and has stone foundations that date back to 239 AD and stone plaques that date to the same time. There is also a chapel that has stained glass by Henri Matisse, but it was closed while we were there.
After a stroll through the old town, we found a nice place for lunch called La Litote. We had a wonderful lunch. I had a cream soup with foie gras for a starter, and then Lamb as my main. Raquel had cooked brie for a starter and then the fish of the day. Everything was made to perfection.
After lunch we strolled around the old town a bit longer and then made our way back to the new town and had a coffee and watched the old gentlemen of the town play petanque.
We eventually took the number 94 bus (different route than the 400 bus) back to Cagnes-sur-Mer and caught the number 200 bus back to Antibes.
You can see some more images here
We took the bus (you guessed it...#200) into Nice again and walked over Mont Boron (It's not really a mountain) to the town of Villefranche-sur-Mer. The walk wasn't very nice as it was along some pretty busy streets and there wasn't a whole lot to see along the way. However, there were some pretty stunning views of Nice during the walk up Mont Boron (See photos).
On a side note: We have noticed that in this area they paint on fake doors, windows columns etc... onto bare walls. See the image here. They look pretty convincing, but if you look closely there is no sun on the building and everything is still casting a shadow.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is a pretty little town on the coast. With some nice restaurants along the water. There is also a pretty church in the center of the old town, and some really cool pedestrian only streets to explore. Unfortunately it was pretty dead during our visit. Probably because of the time of the year and the fact that we are visiting during the middle of the week. We got into the town around lunch, so we headed for the water's edge and did the menu inspection stroll to compare the offerings. We decided to have the "Moules et Frites" (Mussels and Fries) at the restaurant Trastevere. The mussels were great! They cooked them in a white wine and garlic sauce, which is pretty standard for the area.
After lunch we strolled through the deserted streets and eventually walked back to Nice. We walked back along the coast, around Mont Boron. The traffic was still pretty busy, but there is a large sidewalk for most of the way and the views were more consistently beautiful. Mont Boron is were the glitterati have their homes. We kept our eyes peeled in case we spotted Elton John on a vespa or Sean Connery walking his chihuahua, but alas we never did.
You can see some images here
Cannes is just a short bus ride down the coast from Antibes. We jumped on the number 200 (again) at the Place Charles de Gaulle in Antibes for 40 minute ride to Cannes. Cannes is a small and pleasant town, however, it pales (in my opinion) to Nice. The main tourist area of Cannes is between the train station and the coast. It is pretty small and easily walkable in a few hours. It has what you would expect from a tourist town. There are several pedestrian only streets that have a variety of shops. There is a funky mix of tourist shops interspersed with boulangeries and butcher shops and haute couture. It also has a lot of upscale shops and boutiques, as you might expect. There is a beautiful walk along the coast that goes past the building where the film festival is held. It is lined with elegant hotels and trendy cafes.
We stopped in and had a nice lunch of pizza (again) at a little restaurant called Xavier La Pizzaiola. Afterward we strolled down the promenade along the water. They were setting up for the "NRJ" music awards at the film festival building, so Raquel took the opportunity to dance a little "Gangnam" style and entertain the other tourist. We picked the bus up at the end of the promenade for the ride home to Antibes.
You can see some images here
We were at the grocery store the other day and I saw what I first thought was a pack of juice boxes, but on further inspection it turned out to be wine boxes. I'm not sure if these are for picnics or for a lunch boxes. Maybe it's for both.
We took the train from Antibes into Italy on Friday to go to the big market in Ventimiglia, Italy. The ticket to Ventimiglia was 10.10 Euros per person each way. However, the very helpful person at the ticket office in Antibes let us know that we could buy an all-day ticket for two that was only 35.00 for both of us. We saved 5.40 for the round trip. The train there was great, mostly going along the coast north, passing Nice, Monaco and a lot of small towns.
The trip took just under an hour and a half, and we were deposited in the heart of the busy little town of Ventimiglia. Friday is the big market day, so there were plenty of eager shoppers making a bee-line from the train station to where the market was setup. We followed the crowd down the street to the market. There are actually two markets. There is a vegetable market that is open every day, and there is clothes/pots & pans/shoes/dried fish/meats/cheeses market that happens every Friday.
We read some accounts of the Friday market that said to skip it because of the crowds, but we wanted to experience the entire thing so we braved the masses. The crowds were pretty subdued as we are here during the winter months. We ended up buying a stove top espresso maker, a kilo of parmesan cheese, some liquor and some "Hello Kitty" booties (not for me). The prices were substantially cheaper than prices in France on some things, but not everything. There was also a wide range of prices for the same or similar items from stall to stall. It helps to walk the market first then buy once you get an idea of the prices.
After shopping we stopped in at the restaurant Pasta Y Basta for a wonderful lunch of fresh pasta. They make all of the pasta by hand. When ordering you get to choose your type of pasta and then you can choose the sauce you want on it. We both chose the ravioli and Raquel had it with Puttanesca sauce and I had the Arrabiata sauce. Both were spicy and delicious. After lunch we tottered around the town for a little while and made our way back to the train station for the ride home.
You can see some images here
We spent another day roaming through the streets of Nice. We rode the number 200 bus from Antibes to the Place Messena. We were immediately confronted with a flea market that was setup along the Cours Saleya. We were wanting to explore the area around the Port of Nice, and as this was along the way it fit in to our plans very nicely. The stalls were filled with all sorts of brick-a-brak. Everything from old typewriters to silverware to miniature steam engines. We managed to make through the flea market with our budget intact, but my resistance was weakening.
Our ultimate goal was to tour around the port area, so we headed that way. The port is not very large and is lined with stately old buildings. We did a quick meander through the docks and had a nice lunch pizza at Pizzaria La Tartane. The pizza were made in a brick oven and were very good.
After lunch we strolled up the Rue Cassini to the Place Garibaldi where many of the buildings had painted-on decorations and then to the bibliotheque (Library). They have a somewhat bizarre statue of a blockhead outside the Library called the Tete Carree. I'm not sure if a statement on reading or not. From there we walked past the Museum of Modern Art, that was unfortunately closed, and then down the Ave. Saint-Jean-Baptiste past the Place Messena to the Promenade des Anglais. We took a leisurely stroll along the promenade and eventually grabbed a bus home to Antibes.
You can see more images here.
Sunset from the terrace. Sorry for the repetition, but I see the beautiful light and grab my camera and start snapping pics. I'll try to show some restraint in the future. Deep Breaths.....
One more pano....
Biot, which is 4 miles northeast of Antibes, is but a number 10 bus ride away. The public buses are subsidized by the government and 1 euro will get you to many places in the area. One day we decided to go to the vieux ville (old town) part of Biot, very different from the more modern part of Biot on the sea.
Raquel was carrying a bag from an American Psychological Association conference she had been to and as we were getting off the bus in Biot, someone asked, "so which one of you is the shrink?" So started a conversation that later turned into a meal and an invite to our apt. in Antibes with a well-travelled and interesting couple from Cape Cod/San Miguel de Allende.
Biot itself was known for its fine yellow clay that helped develop its pottery industry and more recently it is known for its blown glass artisans. As you can see from the pics, the town is perched up on a hill and is full of alleyways and small squares.
One of the larger squares has what looked like a ice skating rink. The skates on the "ice" did not sound like skates on ice so as we got closer we noticed that the kids were skating on plastic. The white boards (see photo) looked like my cutting board at home. We have never seen this anywhere before but thought, what a great idea, no falling on cold ice.
We stopped in to the Creperie du Vieux Village for a yummy lunch of crepes.
You can see a few more images here.