Saturday, July 4th
Taking the early train out of Florence meant leaving the hostel bright and early at 6:00 a.m. I knew from searching the previous night that my walk would take about 45 minutes to make the two mile trek but I wanted to make sure there was plenty of time before the 7:30 train. Florence was nice and quite in the morning, almost eerily quite compared to most European towns. In a few places around the city I came across the watering crew — as in the crew that waters down the streets! I guess this keeps dirt from becoming dust and helps sweep some of the debris out of the way. I showed up with plenty of time to spare, so of course, the train ran plenty late. The first leg took me from Florence to Genoa.
At Genoa I had about an hour wait before the train arrived. This second train was set up with groups of three seats facing each other in a pod… and was entirely full. There were some other people who couldn’t find seats, including a mother and daughter from Norway that were backpacking around Europe. After a while we realize that there are pull down seats tucked in the aisle. They are more comfortable than sitting on the ground, but an annoyance when the beverage cart goes by or anyone needs to enter or exit the train. Since this train followed the coast, that meant plenty of stops for little Riviera towns. They were hard to tell apart and felt like nearly continuous development, but they were definitely beautiful. Eventually enough people got off of the train at these little towns that I was able to grab a seat in one of the pods.
Ventimiglia meant another train swap. The train had the logo for Monaco on the side. I was surprised that Monaco would have any trains for themselves. The train also had air conditioning which was greatly appreciated on a humid day where the temperature was probably above 90 degrees. There were plenty more small Riviera towns along this train ride, and about half of them were in France. The only excitement came at the French border where the police pulled a guy off of the train.
It was about a fifteen minute walk to the hostel once I arrived in Nice. It was located about a block from the beach, and you could see water from the room if you tried hard enough. The beach wasn’t your normal sandy beach — instead it was rather large gray rocks. Following along the coast for a couple of blocks took me to a park that veered away from the coast, which was probably a mile or so long itself. I followed it until it ended. From there, I found the main shopping street in Nice which really felt like most other shopping streets except the road had been pedestrianized.
While I had a grocery store close in Florence, it was actually in the same building as the hostel in Nice, so it was even closer! This also meant that it was a good place to find dinner. After dinner was another walk along the beach, as the sun was setting. It felt weird not seeing any fireworks on the Fourth of July.
Sunday, July 5th
This would be my last full day in Europe. I spent most of the day in Monaco, which has its own post.
After returning from Monaco, I was pretty tired. I eventually decided to leave the hostel and search for some food. I started following the long park that I followed the previous night. I wound up at a stage for the Nice Jazz Festival. It seemed pretty good for a free concert. I settle on a restaurant near the stage that was attempting to be an American restaurant, I think. It was called Buffalo Grill. The decor felt very American, complete with country music and an eagle statue. They also had very good hamburgers. On the way back to the hostel I found the bus stop I would need to get to the airport the next morning. I also came across a Slash concert which was just ending.