A Travellerspoint blog

A taste of Milan

Big Up Tournament

semi-overcast 8 °C

We spent last weekend in Milan with our team at an indoor tournament of about 32 teams - 20 open (mens) and 12 women. Since Nice doesn't have a women's team, I got to play open. Just on the Italian side of the border, we all bought drinks for the weekend. We were persuaded to get a strong lemonny bottle of Limoncella - we were very impressed and it could only have been improved by the addition of ice; and of course we got our usual bottle of Bombay.
The tournament was fast paced, and continuous play for 25 minutes per game. As per the usual European ulti custom, at the end of each game, the teams huddle up and the captains from each team reflect on the game. In France, this is obviously done in French. In Italy with our team, oddly this was often done in English, because Italians don't speak much French and the French speak even less Italian. So we defaulted to English most of the time while in Italy, except for the token few phrases we could pull out. Another cultural observation about Italians, perhaps those who play sports, is that they have fast and fiery tempers! One coach was yelling angrily at his players almost the entire game! But as quickly as it rises, it dissipates, and grudges are not held.

Recalling experiences from 14 years ago when I was in Italy, something reminded me that the bathrooms left something to be desired. Indeed, you would be lucky to find a bathroom with one of: a toilet (as opposed to a squatter), a toilet seat (if there was a toilet), toilet paper, soap, or a method for drying your hands. It would almost be a miracle if you found a bathroom with all of the above - think I found one once.

On Saturday night, there was a party - a 50's theme - both for style of dress and music. Luke and I got to pull out our swing and tore it up on the dance floor...nice job honey - you still got the moves!....until the abundance of alcohol took its toll. On the walk home, a police officer stopped to chat, and in an effort to communicate, we all jovially concluded that he was "importante"; then we gave him a cheers with our beer and were on our way.

Posted by Meghan.Gardner 09:07 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

St. Paul de Vence

Medieval hill town

overcast 10 °C

One day a couple weeks ago, we took the bus to St. Paul de Vence - a small village known for its tiny cobbled walkways, abundance of artists, and it's situation on a lovely hilltop with a view of the ocean. It's a tourist attraction, for sure, but it's nice to be able to avoid most crowds by going on a Thursday in November :) Gave nice vibrancy to the vines all changing colour too!

Outside the village, there is a large area for men playing boules - our bocce.


We sat in the afternoon sun at a cafe after wandering around and had a glass of wine.

Tomorrow, we're off to Milan to play an indoor tournament with our team - Ziggles. Ziggles is actually sort of a play on words - the eagle is the representative animal of Nice, so Ziggles is like the French trying to say "the eagles" with a french accent - "ze eeggles". :)

Weather has been getting wetter - yesterday it was a full-on downpour for hours. Time to invest in an umbrella for the winter.

Posted by Meghan.Gardner 07:49 Archived in France Comments (0)

Living in Nice, continued

some small highlights

sunny 14 °C

Life continues in a normal pattern in Nice. Luke began work this week, which is fantastic, except for that it's in Antibes and we get up pretty early so that he can get the train there each morning. So far, the boss is quite happy with what he's be able to accomplish on a destroyed bow of a boat. The tricky bit is that he doesn't have all of the tools he's used to having handy, or the safety/protection equipment like air-fed suits and proper coveralls. He's making it work well though, and it's nice to have a routine.

We took some photos of our apartment - not many, but it's something. IMG_4580.jpgIMG_4579.jpgIMG_4523.jpgIMG_4522.jpg

During our last couple weeks, we did a little more wandering around NIce. The Museum of Contemporary Art is free admission, and there's access to the roof for views of the city. There was some very strange art in that building; and also some interesting statues outside and around the neighbourhood.

And a few weeks ago, Cyril and Emilie hosted a wine and cheese for some friends and the co-locs. (roommates are called co-locateurs here). It was a big production and we still have cheese in the fridge from it. Cyril went a little overboard with the cheese selection. IMG_4693.jpg270_IMG_4692.jpgIMG_4694.jpg

On Sunday, we all hung out at home. This is what you have to plan to do Sundays (unless you have a car and want to go do a hike or something) because everything is closed on Sunday afternoons. If you want to get up early and go to the market, that's a good time, but if you don't get out until noon, forget it. You won't see a thing open. So Cyril and Emilie spend the morning making gnocchi from scratch with a rabbit bolognese sauce. It was really tasty!IMG_4705.jpg

To compensate for this culinary extravagance, we've been hitting the "piste" - a track few minutes walk from here - to do crossfit-style workouts. They are not super lengthy but they are intense, as we are racing against each other. Unfortunately, there is no pull-up bar, but we've incorporated burpies, push-ups, sit-ups, running, box jumps, and squats. With Luke working now, it's harder to stick to a regimen. Good idea for Sunday!

Posted by Meghan.Gardner 23:17 Archived in France Comments (0)

Living in Nice

sunny 20 °C

So we have found a place in the St. Roch neighbourhood in east Nice, right next to the mountain you would climb to head toward Monaco. We are right on Blvd. St. Roch, just a minute from the tram station. We share the three bedroom apartment with our landlord, Cyril, who is 27, and a Russian student, Elena. She speaks 5 languages, one of them being English. Both are very nice, and Cyril made a point of making a grand dinner for us all with his girlfriend Emilie when we had all moved in, complete with champagne and a four-course course meal. The third part of this meal was the cheese and bread - cheese is often served here just after the meal, sometimes as dessert. Emilie had done up creme brulee for us to finish off :) I've noticed that the French love the excuse to put on a fancy meal. We had champagne glasses and wine glasses, the salad forks and dessert spoons all set out just so. This is something I will enjoy bringing back home!
Cyril and Emilie have also included us on a walk around Saint Jean Cap Ferrat - a beautiful peninsula walk, and a night out at an Irish pub for a trivia night. They are very friendly roommates, and we got a terrific deal on rent as well: 450€/month. The only difficult part is that when we go out with friends in Antibes and have to come home late, it's hard for us to get home.

Last Saturday, we went to Vence for the usual Saturday morning ultimate; afterwards, USA club championships happened to be online at the time, so we all got roasted chickens and put a meal together with some salad, fries and beer, and sat down and watched ultimate. Felt a little like home. Afterwards, we went out bowling in Antibes to celebrate a friend's birthday. People don't finish eating dinner here until around 11. Some people were just sitting down and ordering food at 10:30. Other customs on eating: breakfast for many French is a minuscule cup of espresso; lunch is eaten at 1, not noon; lunch breaks last up to 2 hours; dinner is often eaten around 8. This explains some of our original difficulty with restaurants - when we could order food and not, etc... had much to do with timing.

This weekend, we drove with 7 others in a mini bus to Nancy, (pronounced more like "non-cy") a town in northern France, for a tournament. This was the first round of France's national level indoor championship, and Luke and I got to go as part of Ziggles 1, the club's top team here. They had only 7 without us, so I think we helped them out. We got to stay at a teammates' parents' place there, which reduced costs. The format was 5 on 5 in a gym, stall count to 8, but not continuous play. There was only one "field" though, so it was 5 25-minute games in 2 days, which wasn't a lot for a 9-hour drive, but it was worth it. Wow - 9 hours. It was a long time in a van! Nice for the opportunities to spend time with French people and practice my French all weekend, though! It was a fair bit colder up north, and raining the entire time.
Now we're back at home, and back to the brilliant sunshine. Today has been t-shirt weather again, but we have had days where it feels like full-on winter in Victoria with wind and rain. Last Wednesday was one of those days - it was torrential downpour the entire day with blowing wind, and it was cold out! I think this was Halloween, actually. This was the day we had to fumigate our place because Cyril's dog had fleas - so we had to leave for a couple hours. Fortunately, we joined Cyril at his friend's great pizza restaurant down the road for lunch.
The following day was a holiday - All Saints Day. We tried to get to Eze via a bus I know goes there, but it didn't pick us up in the right spot. We then waited over an hour for another bus that went the long way around. Had a nice time waiting with a Swedish couple also going to Eze. The drive over the mountain was stunning with views of Nice and Saint Jean Cap Ferrat from up high on the ridge. We discovered on the bus that the storm the day before had caused the normal road to close - hence the bus problem. I had been to Eze before, but it was a great little place to visit again - a tiny medieval town perched on this pinnacle-type mountaintop facing the sea. It's a village with narrow winding walkways and staircases, small hobbit sized doors and some beautiful ocean views.
We went on a holiday and our visit coincided with that of an American cruise ship tour from the Southern states...so there were many tourists. We like to think that we are not tourists because we live here....well, we know this is not true, but at least we're subtle and we speak some French.


Best parts for me so far: the food. I have far less self control here. So much cheese, bread and yummy desserts! No crossfit in Nice unfortunately but we're lucky that our place is close to really nice outdoor track - we have plans to design workouts and do them there.

Posted by Meghan.Gardner 06:34 Archived in France Comments (0)


living (and commuting) from Antibes

overcast 16 °C

We've spent a week in a great apartment that's situated on a hill in Antibes that has a glassed in balcony with an ocean view. It feels like a solarium in that room; it's very relaxing :) Spent all afternoon this Saturday and last on the couch in here enjoying it after our morning ulti in Vence. Both Saturdays now, we've travelled to Vence - the first time, it took us a long while by public transit, after that, those friendly ultimate people gave us a ride and refused any money for gas. So beer it will be. Vence has the closest field that's available for frisbee because fields closer into town are dominated by youth soccer. Quel surprise! But once you get there, the brand new full size turf field is right in the middle of a small hill town, where you'd never expect to find one. After the practice today, we joined the group back at the captain's flat for beers and pizza.

During these car rides and time spent with ulti folk, I practice my French. I feel like I understand about 10% of what people say, and I've become a pro at the "smile, laugh and nod"; I get about 85% of Luke's Franglish. He is awesome - did I mention that already? - he's the conversation man! I often feel like I've got things to say but just don't have the vocabulary. When he doesn't know the word, he just puts a french accent on it and fits it right in. My French is getting better, but with the ulti people it's easier because they also can speak a little English, so we get by easily, and they help me out with finding the right words. My colleague, however, is another matter.
I work closely with a French teacher - we swap the same two classes all day and share the same schedule. We have a very hard time communicating because she doesn't speak any English, and she often doesn't understand my French, so talking to her about students, schedules, protocol, ideas, curriculum, etc..., is quite frustrating, especially given that there's no one around to help out with that.

We will be moving back to Nice tomorrow, staying with Sophie and Goran again. Hopefully next week will be the week we find an apartment. Most furnished places seem to only be available for students and until June. We had little success with emailing people from the advertisements (with google translate, of course) from the advertisemeso finally Luke just got on the phone. (again, he's awesome! I couldn't have done that!) We will be calling more people tomorrow and hopefully set something up for next week. Moving back to Nice will mean I don't need to get up at 6 am to arrive at work at 8. The 1.5-2 hour commute was a little brutal, but now Luke will get to try! He has an interview in Antibes on Monday morning. This is almost a comedy, it's ridiculous. We are hoping to get a scooter or a car so he doesn't need to do transit if he gets this job. Everyone he actually gets to talk to seems pretty impressed by his resume and experience, so maybe he'll get a job despite the economy here and the fact that it's the wrong season entirely for boat work.

One thing I will miss in Canada when we come back is my new favourite sandwich: camembert and cherry jam on a baguette. So easy, so cheap, so good.

This is the Russian Church in Nice - quite the striking design! Just around the corner from where we were staying (and will be staying again) in Nice.

Posted by Meghan.Gardner 09:12 Archived in France Comments (0)

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