Welcome back mes amis,
Oh sunshine how I’ve missed you!
We left Paris behind and took the train down to Nice, not really certain how we were getting to Tubingen since when we booked our tickets there were three different times listed for our connecting train between Nice and Tubingen. Two of the times were fine and life would be dandy, one of the times would leave us in a Paris train station to sleep on a bench, more on this later. We arrived in Nice to a slight drizzle and made our way from the station to the pick up point for the hostel van. We grabbed a pizza from a roadside vendor since we weren’t certain if we wanted to head back out for dinner. Our hostel was perched at the top of the hill in an old converted abbey, and we figured we may as well bring our dinner with us. We arrived checked in and got settled, went downstairs with our pizza and saw the amazing dinner that the hostel cook was turning out of the kitchen, meal planning for the next few days was set since the dinner was also super cheap. We added a huge green salad to our pizza and relaxed and ate.
The next morning we woke up to sunny skies and 80 degree weather, which felt amazing. Instantly the long pants and shirts went away and out came bathing suits, board shorts and tee shirts. Life was good. We went into the old city and walked around the Marche aux fleurs, but don’t be decieved by the name (or too confused by it for the non francophiles out there) the flower market was really a giant outdoor market with everything from flowers, fruits, veggies all local all amazing, all the way to fresh fish and even hand painted water color paintings. It even puts Ballard’s farmers market to shame and I love Ballard’s farmers market.
After this it was decided to try and find some of the really good beaches people had told us about. On the way to the bus we stopped for a local specialty called a pan bagnat, which is tuna, lettuce, tomato, onion, radish, carrots, red pepper, olive, egg, salt and pepper, oil and vinegar. We made it to the right bus and were about to board when the driver noticed that someone had gotten ill on the last ride and so the bus would be delayed until they could clean it…..not acceptable there was sun and beach to be had, so we hopped another bus to another beach and walked around a bit looking for some good beach sitting. When none could be found we decided to instead sit down eat our pan bagnat while watching the mountains play backdrop to a very nice port full of really nice boats. Lunch completed, the pan bagnat was awesome, we decided to continue on to our first choice of beach. We found the bus, headed out and soon were on the beach with an amazing sea and sky stretching out before us. We hopped in the water briefly, it was cold and the wind had picked up cooling down the afternoon. We watched the sun start to set and decided to head back home to the hostel, stopping off at the grocery to get Kailey some soup to go along with her planned giant salad at dinner.
Back at the hostel we showered, got changed and headed downstairs to have an excellent meal from the kitchen. Dinner was again delicious and we chatted with a few people we had met the day before and that night. Emma is from New Zealand and just finished as one of the costume designers on the Hobbit (oohhs and ahhhs go here), while Carly is from Oz and is a massage therapist who gave Sam and Kailey the hard sell on why they should move to Australia and teach there and get a PhD there as well. She should really work for the recruitment office since it was a very good sell :-)!!!
Waking up late the next morning we got our stuff together and made our way back down to the old town for another walk through the market, it really is that good. We could spend weeks here simply going to the market, sitting on the beach and then cooking my finds at home and never have to cook the same meal twice. We picked up a few items, gifts and then headed out to find the place reputed to have the best pan bagnat in town. We grabbed our sandwiches from the recommended beachside stand and headed back to the beach for some much needed sun, rock and sea (note most photos have been cropped since Kailey doesn’t keep an eye out for pg-13 vs R rated photos on French beaches…wooops). After a nice long day of sitting on the beach, hopping in the water, reading Nicholas Sparks books (don’t judge me) we again made our way back to the hostel, since we had to get up early for our day of train riding to Stuttgart (hopefully). Dinner at the hostel did not disappoint and Kailey was even inspired to join in on happy hour (a rare event). We packed up that evening and got ready for our day of travel, after that we fell asleep.
Heading out the next morning we made sure to get to the train station early so we could check on the status of the train leaving Paris for Stuttgart. The woman at the counter looked in the computer system and told me that no problem the train was leaving at 8:20 and we would arrive at our station at 7:05! I asked per the advice of the first ticket agent if she could call the station to confirm, she looked a bit confused why I wouldn’t just take her word for it and leave, but still apparently my french was good enough that she humored me. A few moments later she came rushing back to the computer, manager in tow and informed me that, yes I was right the train left way too early 7:11 PM and that they weren’t sure what to do. After a few seconds she looked up and told me that I should simply leave now. My french is decent, but rusty so I thought maybe I misheard her. Now as in???As in 10 minutes from now! What followed was Kailey and my best impression of the Amazing Race “Nice style” as we hauled ass to the train. Luckily we made it just fine and were able to make all of our connections (as I write this in Germany on a train to Tubingen at 7am).
The train ride from Paris to Stuttgart started off a little nerve racking, the sleeper car already had 4 people in it from China on their way to Munich for Octoberfest (Lin, Lin, Li, and Wong). We nervously tried to get all of our stuff and ourselves into this tiny sleeper, without being jerks and taking up too much space. Once settled though things went from nervous quiet to really great hanging out in no time flat. Most of this is due to Kailey, since she is literally a disney character who instantly becomes friends with strangers. By the time I got back from asking the conductor a question we were all trading stories. They were a family of 4 from China, the two younger were students abroad in the UK at the moment and Lin (the daughter) had her parents with her and Li her boyfriend came too. They were traveling around Europe for the next month. I was then treated to a beer as well as some homemade chili sauce that was supposedly hot enough “to burn your asshole” (direct quote from Li). After another round of beers, talking and an invitation to come visit them at home, where her parents could show us why the region was famous for its hot pot, we all got comfy in our beds and fell asleep.
4 am rolled around and the lovely German stewardess woke us up and informed us that we were in Stuttgart and it was time to go. Thinking we only had a matter of moments we rushed out the car saying a hasty good-bye to Lin and her family, hoping that we can actually make it to visit them (bring on the spice and the amazing food I say) we rushed into the hallway where Kailey was told we had plenty of time to get off. We then walked straight into the aftermath of Stuttgart’s Octoberfest as the train station was full of lederhosen, dirndel and beer filled Germans……To Be Continued…..
~ Sam and K