Summer Kai's European Warm-Up
With only 70 days remaining until the start of our great sailing adventure, the crew of Summer Kai took to the skies for a two-week trip to Europe. Our adventure would take us to Nice, Monaco, Vienna, Salzburg and finally Munich before heading back to Laguna to make final preparations for the big move to Summer Kai for a year of possibility. In today’s post, we'll focus on our impressions of Nice & Monaco.
It seems as though Nice is bathed in a light that makes the pace of life slow down. As we strolled through the old town open-air markets, Summer inspected the freshest strawberries and was amazed by huge stands of spices. We also discovered the fish market where fisherman have likely been selling their fresh octopus, squid, sole and other oceanic delicacies for hundreds of years. Here, a friendly fishmonger picked up a beautiful fish and ran around the stand to show it to Summer. Of course, Summer wanted no part of it at first but when the woman kissed the fish Summer laughed, touched the cold, scaly skin, and made a new friend.
There is no question that Nice contributes to France's reputation for fantastic food. The crepes, pastries, fresh bread and the marvelous produce made for some excellent meals. We enjoyed most of our meals outside where the evenings were cool but not cold. We had surprisingly good service in most of the restaurants where we dined. I've included our thoughts on some of the restaurants we visited at the end of the post.
After a day or so in Nice, it was time to explore Monaco. The train ride from Nice to Monaco couldn't have been more than 30 minutes, and by sitting on the right-hand side of the train, you are rewarded with views of little towns alongside gorgeous bays and houses perched on cliffs that make you wonder how they stick to the sheer rock faces. At only 2.2 square miles, Monaco is by area the second smallest country in the world. Over 30% of the population are millionaires, and it has one of the largest concentration of billionaires in the world. The wealth becomes apparent when you step out of the train station and scan the marina where mega and super yachts abound. We took the opportunity to scout the harbor taking notes where Summer Kai could dock if we ever made it to the Mediterranean. We saw some incredible vessels including Symphony (333ft), Sea Force (177ft), and Wedge Too (213.25ft). Needless to say, they all make Summer Kai look tiny, but we'd take the sailing life anytime.
After exploring the harbor, we marched up the hundreds of steps that
led us to the palace. The views of the harbor, the ocean, and the surrounding area made the workout worth it. Summer was a champ as she climbed nearly all the stairs herself and only asked to sit on my shoulders when we were about two-thirds of the way up. Even though she's close to 60 pounds now, I cherish these final days where I can carry her on my shoulders while she sings, grabs my hair and comments on just about everything we see. Next year it won't be so easy. The palace grounds are beautiful, but we enjoyed walking through the narrow streets of the old town. It was mid-afternoon by the time we finished lunch and had a chance to walk through the shops, so it was a little quiet which made it peaceful. The buildings also provided shade which made it better for walking. As we made our way back down to the harbor from the palace, we were greeted with more stunning views of the harbor and the coast. It was easy to imagine living along the sea in this beautiful little community but it was time to bid adieu to France and head to Vienna for Easter weekend.
We wish you fair winds and following seas. We would love to hear your comments and we hope you subscribe to our blog so that you can share in our adventures.
If you are planning a trip to Nice or Monaco, here are some of our thoughts that might help you in your planning.
HYATT REGENCY NICE PALAIS DE LA MÉDITERRANÉE
We stayed at the Hyatt Regency and thought it was fantastic. The hotel is right on the sea. We had a suite with a large sea-facing terrace and we were surprised at how reasonable the rates were. From the Hyatt, you can walk through the old town, enjoy the promenade on the ocean and you're not far from the train station (about 1km). The hotel also has a nice pool in the courtyard and has a great breakfast buffet.
La Maison de Marie is located in the shopping district and you can only reach it on foot. You head down an inconspicuous alley and land in a courtyard with plenty of tables. They also have an area for dining inside but why wouldn't you enjoy the fresh air. We ate in the courtyard and had fresh sole where they filet and debone the fish right at the table. They also had fantastic salads, pasta and other meats. We highly recommend stopping in if your looking for a meal while out shopping.
As a classic French bistro, Bistrot Chaud-Vin's menu included all of the classics including one of my favorites- fois gras. the wine list had tremendous variety and we enjoyed the classic french atmosphere, excellent food and of course the wine. Unfortunately, the staff didn't know much English so we butchered our way through ordering in French. We would recommend seeking Bistrot Chaud-Vin out if you're in the mood for some simply prepared local delicacies.