Better Late Than Never: Christmas continued

I know I’m super late with this, but I still wanted to share my Christmas vacation adventures with my parents.  Better late than never, right?

December 26-27
After our train ride back to Nice on December 26, we took the afternoon and evening to settle in and go to dinner on the Cours Saleya and then to the Christmas market.  The next day, I showed them the medical school where I work, and we continued up the hill to Cimiez, where we visited the Franciscan monastery, museum, and garden, which was really beautiful, even in December.  Then we made our way over to the Matisse Museum, which was really cool and reminded us of some of Cat’s work 🙂  After a picnic lunch, we walked down to the Promenade des Anglais to sit on the famous blue chairs and grab a drink at one of the beach restaurants.  Pizza and pastries for dinner! 🙂

Franciscan monastery

Franciscan monastery

Garden behind the monastery

Garden behind the monastery

Flowers blooming in December!

Flowers blooming in December!

Matisse Museum

Matisse Museum

Blue chairs by the sea :)

Blue chairs by the sea 🙂

Aubergines on my pizza?  Yes please!

Aubergines on my pizza? Yes please!

December 28
I really wanted to show them the fruit/vegetable/flower market so we walked to the market in the morning and enjoyed a few breakfast pastries.  In the afternoon, we took the bus to Monaco, where we walked around the Christmas market and indulged in some waffles, typical French carnival food… yummm!  We walked around for the afternoon and saw the Monte Carlo casino (and actually went inside!), the palace, and the cathedral where Prince Ranier and Grace Kelly were married.  On the way back to the bus stop, we saw the most beautiful sunset, and the Christmas lights were spectacular!

Breakfast from the market

Breakfast from the market

Eating by the sea :)

Eating by the sea 🙂

Christmas decorations in Monaco

Christmas decorations in Monaco

Palace

Palace

Cathedral

Cathedral

Waffles with whipped cream and Nutella!

Waffles with whipped cream and Nutella!

Sunset over the port in Monaco

Sunset over the port in Monaco

Monte Carlo casino

Monte Carlo casino

December 29
Saturday morning started with a trip to my favorite museum in Nice— le Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC), followed by a picnic lunch and a walk up to and around the chateau.  The chateau is my absolute favorite view of Nice, and we even saw a rainbow in the waterfall!  A trip to Fenocchios for some ice cream before watching the sunset on the Promenade des Anglais was the perfect end to the afternoon.  Once again, an amazing dinner on the Cours Saleya.

Waterfall at the chateau

Waterfall at the chateau

ICE CREAM :)

ICE CREAM 🙂

Sunset on the Promenade des Anglais

Sunset on the Promenade des Anglais

December 30
On Sunday, we decided to spend the day away from “tourist-y” Nice on the small island of Ste Marguerite, which is a 15 minute ferry ride from Cannes.  There are no cars allowed on the island and since it was December, there weren’t many people there either.  It was beautiful!  There’s a small fort on the island, which we visited, as well as a museum.  We also visited the building where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned before he was transferred to the Bastille.  We ate lunch on a little beach and took a walk around the island and down the Allée des Eucalyptus.  Chinese for dinner 🙂

View of Cannes from the ferry

View of Cannes from the ferry

The fort and the museum on Ste Marguerite

The fort and the museum on Ste Marguerite

We found a friend :)

We found a friend 🙂

Allee des Eucalyptus

Allee des Eucalyptus

Beaches on Ste Marguerite

Beaches on Ste Marguerite

December 31
We managed to find a few places open on New Years Eve, so we spent the morning at the Chagall museum (the only museum in Nice that isn’t free), which is very nice.  But this afternoon was my favorite part of the week.  We went to St. Paul de Vence, which is a little walled village at the top of a hill with a bunch of little artist galleries, candy shops, and cafés.  We walked around looking at the art galleries for a few hours and watched the sunset from the hill.  We went home and made dinner (chicken and leek pie) and walked down to the Promenade des Anglais to see the few (measly) fireworks at midnight.  I missed our big family celebration, but to make up for it we went back at the apartment and indulged in pastries and champagne 🙂

Chagall artwork

Chagall artwork

Chagall artwork

Chagall artwork

A street in St. Paul de Vence

A street in St. Paul de Vence

Sunset from St. Paul de Vence

Sunset from St. Paul de Vence

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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January 1-2
The last few days of visiting were spent mostly relaxing and hanging out, doing some souvenir shopping, walking around the Christmas market again, and eating more delicious food.  Then it was time to say goodbye 😦  I loved hanging out with my parents for a week.  It was a different, but fantastic and memorable way to celebrate the holidays! 🙂

 

Our French word of the day:
congélateur (con-JAY-la-tour)- freezer
Je garde toujours des viandes, des légumes, et des pâtes dans le congélateur pour un repas vite.
I always keep meat, vegetables, and pasta in the freezer for a quick meal.

Fun in the Sun

The weather this week was REALLY crappy.  Rain, all day, every day, and that’s not an exaggeration. With no sunshine and little motivation to leave my apartment and brave the endless rain, this week left me feeling a little down in the dumps.  So yesterday, when the sun finally came out, I decided to take full advantage of it with an adventure to la colline du Chateau.

La colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) is considered to be the birthplace of the town of Nice.  Long ago it was called Nikaia by the Greeks, who set up a trading post near the coast in the 3rd century BC, but it was later occupied by the Celtic Ligurians and then conquered by the Romans.  The defense system that had been built up to protect the castle and the lower part of the town (Old Nice) was dismantled in 1706 by Louis XIV and converted to a park at the end of the 19th century.  Today, although the Chateau no longer exists, the park is a beautiful attraction and the site of the highest altitude in Nice at 92 meters above sea level.

Ruins of the Chateau

Ruins of the Chateau

It’s not hard to get to the bottom of the hill, but then you have to take either the Ascenseur du Chateau (elevator) or 213 stairs to get up to the park.  I decided I could use the workout, so I took the stairs.  There’s a lot to see at the top of the hill around the park.

The elevator is through the doorway, while the stairs run above it

The elevator is through the doorway, while the stairs run above it

An artist selling his surrealist paintings on the stairs

An artist selling his surrealist paintings on the stairs

The Chateau cemetery holds family tombs dating back to the early 1800’s, and the cemetery is separated into Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant sections.  The tombs are absolutely gorgeous and well cared for, and most hold flowers, fresh from La Toussaint a few weeks ago.  It’s a nice, quiet refuge from the hustle and bustle of Nice, especially around this time of year.

Chateau cemetery

Chateau cemetery

As you keep walking up the hill, the view gets better and better.

Gorgeous

Gorgeous

Snow in the mountains!

Snow in the mountains!

All along the way there was a ton of mosaic artwork on the walls and on the ground.  Most of it was Roman-themed (I’m assuming), with some weird sea creatures, ships, and gods.

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Cool artwork

At the very top is the park, which has a few cute cafés and brasseries, a playground, and some boutiques and souvenir shops.

My mid-afternoon snack :)

My mid-afternoon snack 🙂

It attracts people of all ages.  I even saw some kids around my age slacklining (but I didn’t have the guts to go say hi…)

Slacklining (walking on a rope between two trees)

Slacklining (walking on a rope between two trees)

Here’s a few more pictures.  It was a beautiful afternoon 🙂

A view of the whole city

A view of the whole city

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The coast

The port in Nice

The port in Nice

The lighthouse

The lighthouse

Me :)

Me 🙂

When I got home, I decided to keep the good feeling going and do one of my favorite things: BAKE!  I haven’t done any baking since I got to France, but since I’ve pretty much mastered the use of my convection oven and finally bought all the typical baking ingredients and hardware, I figured I’d give it a shot.  I made what I like to call “loaded banana bread” with bananas, applesauce, toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  Here’s the recipe (adapted from here)!

Ingredients:
2 c (220 g)  flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 overripe bananas
2 eggs
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 c (115 g) apple sauce
3/4 c (170 g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 c (80 g) hazelnuts
1+ c (100 g) chocolate chips

Instructions:
1) Preheat oven to 350F (180C)
2) In a large bowl, mix the dry (first four) ingredients together and set aside.
3) In another bowl, mash the bananas with the oil and applesauce.
4) Mix in the eggs and then sugar, vanilla, and spices (by hand).
5) Slowly incorporate the flour mixture.
6) Toast the hazelnuts in a skillet for 4-5 minutes or until they smell nice and nutty 🙂
7) Fold hazelnuts and chocolate chips into batter.
8) Grease and flour two 9×5 inch loaf pans (or I just used one large round cake pan).
9) Bake for 40-60 minutes or until a knife comes out clean from the center.

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Yummmm (Dianne, this is for you)

Yummmm (Dianne, this is for you)

Can’t forget our French word for today!
grande roue (grahn DROO)- ferris wheel
Il y a une grande roue et une patinoire à la place, près du marché du Noël!
There’s a ferris wheel and an ice rink in the square, near the Christmas market!

How to celebrate Thanksgiving in a country that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving

1. Don’t do work.  Any work.  At all.
Ok, to be fair I’ve been very productive in the past 2 weeks.  I’ve written an 18 page preliminary report and drawn up sketches to show my bosses from Nice AND Chicago.  I think I deserve a break.  Plus, it just wouldn’t feel like a holiday if I worked 🙂

2. Take advantage of the things that would normally be closed on this day in the US.
For example, museums.  On Thursday, I walked to the Nice Archaeology and Roman Ruins Museum.  It’s small, but cool.  I’m not that into history museums (I like the art museums better), but I liked looking around at all the ancient stuff.  Plus, since I’ve been around here for a little while, I recognized some of the modern areas mentioned in the posters around the exhibits.

Outside the museum is the site of the ancient city of Cemenelum, the capital of the Alpes Maritimae province.  Most of the remains are from the third century, but some of them have different construction periods between the first and seventh centuries.  These remains display an ampitheater, 3 thermal baths, streets, a sewer, a school, and shops.  Here are some pictures!

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I also went to the grocery store (usually not open all day in the US) and bought a steamer, which I am excited to try at some point for dinner this week!

3. Be sure to incorporate as many nationalities as possible.
In order to avoid eating Thanksgiving dinner by myself, I invited my friend Isabelle, who is from England, over to eat turkey with me.  So we had an American girl and an English girl celebrating an American holiday in France.  Doesn’t get weirder than that.

4. Eat turkey.
Obviously, come on.  I debated my menu for Thanksgiving dinner for a while, starting with duck, moving on to chicken, and finally settling on turkey because it’s just not Thanksgiving without turkey.  I got 3 turkey legs from the store, and potatoes, green beans, apples, and rosemary from the outdoor market.

This is going to count as my Sunday Night Dinner for this week, but sorry, no recipes this time.  Here’s the menu:
– roasted turkey legs with rosemary roasted potatoes and onions
– green beans almondine
– croissants
– mini apple tarts with cinnamon and honey
– and Isabelle brought a lovely white wine (Picpoul de Pinet)

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Loot from the market

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The delicious spread 🙂

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Apple tart for dessert

 5. Give thanks for everything!
I’m not going to lie, it was REALLY hard to be away from home for this holiday.  Because Chicago is only 7 hours from Cleveland, I’d always gone home for Thanksgiving.  I’ve never celebrated the holiday by myself or had to cook turkey by myself and it was intimidating.  I was sad in the morning, thinking that I should’ve been at home and looking forward to real apple pie, turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, pumpkin bread, Mom’s stuffing, Grandma’s jello, sweet potatoes, green beans, and rolls.  I should’ve been sitting around talking to and laughing with my family, and getting ready to go Black Friday shopping with my sisters.  I should’ve been enjoying the colors of the changing leaves and the quickly cooling weather, and I should’ve been listening to Christmas music.  I was seriously missing all of it.

Walking home from the museum, I saw the first beautiful changing leaves I’ve come across in Nice.  That cheered me up a little bit.

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As the day went on, I kept telling myself that going home was obviously not going to happen and to quit dwelling on it.  I’m thankful for different things this year.  I’m thankful to be here in this beautiful city, having a once-in-a-lifetime experience that not everyone can say they’ve had.  I’m thankful I’m working on a project that I really like, with helpful supervisors and support in Chicago and Nice.  I’m thankful that I’m making friends here and I’m thankful that Isabelle came over for dinner so I didn’t have to eat alone 🙂  I’m thankful that things are starting to become familiar and I’m starting to feel a little bit less like a stranger.  And I’m SUPER thankful for the care packages I received today 🙂 🙂 🙂

Today’s French word is:
reconnaissant (ruh-ko-na-SAHN)- grateful, appreciative, thankful
Je suis reconnaissante de mes amis aux Etats-Unis et en France.
I’m thankful for my friends in the US and in France.

Bonne Toussaint!

La Toussaint is a two-day holiday encompassing both All Saints Day (Nov 1), a day for remembering Catholic saints, and All Souls Day (Nov 2), a day for praying for the souls of the deceased. In the US, All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation. In France, it’s an excuse for the French to take another day, or a couple of weeks, off. French banks and businesses close their doors for the holiday and students benefit from a two week vacation from school! I found out today, after walking to the med school to work this morning and encountering locked doors, that it’s a vacation day for me too!

So today after working diligently from home for the morning (read: Skyping Emily, Facebooking, and Google searching “pediatric inguinal hernia”), I decided to give myself a well-deserved break. I’d been wanting to go to the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) for a while and I figured today should be the day, since it was open. It’s only a 15 minute bus ride from my apartment, and the bus goes literally door to door. The museum isn’t that big (1 floor of featured exhibits and 2 floors of permanent exhibits), but I spent a good couple hours walking around.

Front of MAMAC

One of my favorite exhibits was a collection of donations from Niki de Saint Phalle, a French sculptor, painter, and film maker. If you’ve ever been to the Pompidou Center in Paris, the fountain next to it is called the Stravinksy Fountain, and it was created by her and a Swiss sculptor, Jean Tinguely, whom she eventually married. Saint Phalle’s work was heavily influenced by Gaudi, whom she discovered after visiting Parc Guell in Barcelona, Spain. This exhibit was really cool to see because I’ve also been to Parc Guell and I can definitely see the connection. Saint Phalle also has a sculpture garden in Tuscany called Giardino dei Tarocchi (Tarot Garden), that I’d love to see if I can make it to Italy!

Fonte des Nanas (Melting of Nanas)

Motorcycle Heart (this one is for Dad <3)

La mariée sous l’arbre (The bride under the tree)

My other favorite exhibit was from the Ecole de Nice (School of Nice). It was a fluxus exhibit that blends different artistic media and challenges the border between art and life. It was really interesting. One of the artists, Ben Vautier, included a lot of quotes from different people, and some of them were very thought-provoking. The quotes are actually all over Nice (bus stops, restaurants, even the med school lobby), so it was cool to see their origin. The exhibit reminded me of a French class I took at Northwestern about Guy Debord and blurring the border between real life and its representation by the media.

Fluxus exhibit from the Ecole de Nice

View on the inside– the poster says “la gloire c’est des emmerdements” (glory is hassles/bummers)

“If art is everywhere, it is also in this box”– blurring the line between art and life!

Plus, on the top floor of the museum, there’s a terrace that offers a 360 degree view of the city– breathtaking!

After the museum, I was planning on going to a coffee shop to get some work done, but I got caught up in the beautiful streets of Old Nice. In this neighborhood, the streets and alleyways are so narrow, there isn’t enough room for a car to fit through, and the streets are lined with boutiques, specialty shops, souvenir stands, restaurants, and épiceries. I ended up buying two scarves and ending my afternoon with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream from Fenocchio’s– they have 94 flavors, including cactus, tomato basil, Bailey’s, and bubble gum! My goal is to try all 94 flavors before I leave 🙂

YUMMM

So I didn’t make it to church today, but I managed to take advantage of the holiday 🙂  Bonne Toussaint!

 
Today’s French word is:
feu tricolore (FUH tree-ko-LOR)- literally “three-colored fire,” it’s a traffic light!
Tournez à droite au feu tricolore et vous arrivez à la faculté de medecine.
Turn right at the traffic light and you’re at the medical school.