Day 1 Leaving for France

12:45 AM AirplaneFoodCritic 0 Comments


It was nice to have a flight in early afternoon so we had time to sleep in and get things in order before we headed to the airport. It is funny, this is the closest we have lived to SFO yet it was the  most difficult and potentially most expensive airport commute. Luckily, our friends stepped up and offered to drive us the 11 minutes it takes to get to the international terminal at SFO.

The day prior I was able to check in and print our boarding passes. I have never done this before because I am a pessimist and think the worst will always happen so I usually go with what I know. I think that maybe I will get cut off half way through the process at home and when I get to the airport they lose all my info or something. It turned out to be quick and simple. Thank you, United.
We arrived at the airport and marched right up to the security point. The TSA agent looked at our boarding passes and sent us to a special, fast line. We did not have to remove our jackets or our shoes. We did not have to take out our liquids bags. It was what it should be like for everyone. I do not know why we got special treatment but it was much appreciated.

We did a little shopping for things to bring to my family when we visit them in Switzerland then found our terminal. I have not been sleeping or eating for at least the past three days. That is how stressed out I get before a trip. I am so afraid that I will forget something super important. With my illness it is not entirely impossible for me to do. We are now waiting at the gate. The flight was delayed for an hour. I think it is because today is the first totally overcast/low clouds day we have had in the past 4 months. Of course it happens on the day we leave.

I got my usual chai tea and almond croissant and here we wait. The husband (I need to learn to switch from "the bf" to "the husband".) was so tired that he found a spot on the floor and shamelessly took a nap. Once on the airplane I hope to be so relaxed. He is down there with a hoodie over his head, ear plugs in his ears and a mask over his eyes. I bunkered him in with our luggage. And of course, took a photo! Once we are settled on the plane I will take my anti-jetlag pills, wait for this tea to wear off as I also wait for the lunch to be served. After that it is goodnight for me. I have slept on an airplane twice in my life. One time I was sick as a dog from drinking heavily for two weeks straight in Ireland and the other was my first European trip with my husband. I wore myself OUT planning that one. The plan today is to do something similar to the latter. I have wound myself up into a knot worrying about everything about this trip but once the wheels are up, I have nothing to do or worry about for 10 hours. Fingers crossed I sleep!
Waiting for the plane

And sleep I did! We got on the plane and had to wait for just under an hour. I guess that they had to change the plane at the last minute so there were all sorts of preparation that needed to be made. We sat at the very back of the airplane. I chose these seats specifically because we would have the whole row to ourselves (it is only two seats across along the sides for the last few rows in the plane) and we would have no one behind us so we could lean our seats way back. I took the window so the super tall husband could take the aisle. I waited until dinner was served before I tried going to sleep. I say dinner but it was about 4pm San Francisco time. Normally, transatlantic flights will serve a choice of two meals. Usually one of those choices is vegetarian but this time I didn't take a chance and ordered the husband a vegan meal. I am SO glad I did because by the time they got to us waaaay at the very back of the plane, all the ravioli options were gone. I had the Thai chicken with rice which was great. I always love airplane food. I think it has to do with the fact that I only have it when on vacation. The husband got some Indian dish that he let me taste and it was fantastic.

This is the first plane ride I have taken to Europe where I decided to not drink any alcohol at all. This is because I usually find that I wake up after only a few hours if I do. So this time I had a ginger ale and then took my jetlag pills, some melatonin and a muscle relaxer. That konked me out pretty good. I basically woke up for the breakfast service at the end of the flight.

Since the flight was already late I was worried about our connecting flight from Frankfurt to Nice but we had plenty of time. We breezed through customs and found our gate for the Lufthansa flight to Nice, France. I watched outside as it began to rain in Germany. It was warm and muggy out. The husband tried to get some sleep while we waited because he didn't sleep much on the first leg of the flight. This will be a theme for the whole day - him trying to catch up on sleep. I noticed the type of people in the gate waiting to go to Nice were quite different from the other gates we have waited at. There were many, MANY Louis Vitton bags and sockless loafers. I am sure lots of people here are going to be heading to Monaco after this flight. We boarded on a bus that drove us like 5 minutes to the airplane way out on the tarmac. It was so muggy and hot I thought I was melting. We sat on the plane for a while waiting for the next bus to arrive and we took off pretty quickly.

The husband had the window and again tried to rest. I was in the middle seat and the man next to me asked me something in German. I knew how to respond in German but somehow my tongue got tied and I stuttered something half in English and half in a language I made up. He realized I spoke English and asked again, "Did you come on the first bus? Have you been waiting long?" I mumbled something that indicated yes and no respectively and then fiddled with the air vents trying to get some air. After the flight took off and we got our yummy German sandwiches I decided to ask my neighbor a question about the German language. We ended up talking for the whole hour flight about insurance, teenagers, Cleveland and German immigration in the 1915's. He was a very pleasant man. I listened as he told me what it is like having a 17 year old daughter who thinks it is her responsibility to throw huge parties for all her friends while I ate my turkey and pickle sandwich. The husband nibbled on his cheese sandwich while he tried to get some rest. We landed without incident which is good.
My big dark head and our plane to Frankfurt. These photos are not great, I know, sorry.

I was sort of hoping that my new friend would show me a simple and cheap way to get to downtown Nice from the airport but turned out he had a company car picking him up so I turned to my notes on how to get to our hotel. I read that to get to Monaco, which is twice as far from the airport as Nice, in a taxi it is less expensive to take a helicopter. This worried me because I do not have the money for this entire trip, let alone the taxi ride to our hotel which I calculated to be around 30 or 40 Euros. I decided to try the bus. This is a good area to try the public transportation because the airport is super close to the town of Nice so we couldn't mess up TOO bad and end up in the wrong city or something. In my research there are two types of buses you can take. One is 1.5 Euro but the people on that bus give you dirty looks because they don't like to see you taking up space with your luggage as it is a commuter bus. I forgot that I was arriving on a Sunday afternoon and maybe I could have taken this bus but I got worried as I always worry and decided on the other bus. The other bus you can take is either the 98 or 99. Those both take you into Nice and leave right from the airport. They are 6 Euro per person. We chose the 99 because it took us a tiny bit closer to our hotel than the 98 but they were very similar. We walked out of the baggage claim area and there was the 99 leaving the station. No worry, the worst it could be I figured was 30 minutes and I am a zombie anyways from the long travel day. I found the bus station and bought us two tickets. I tried out my rusty French and they guy was pretty polite. He even corrected me or filled me in on the words I didn't know. I forgot how to say 99. I now can't stop repeating it in my head. It is such a strange language when you think about it. I guess all languages have something silly. The literal translation for the number ninety nine is "four twenty ten nine". It is a mouthful. We got our tickets and waited only 15 or so minutes when the bus arrived. We got on and put our luggage on the luggage rack. We stood in a standing area near our luggage because I greatly dislike being too far from my stuff. But then some guy with a pram and massive suitcases (trunks?) took up all the space and we had to go sit in the back.

We left the airport and followed the shore of the Mediterranean for a few minutes. Despite the overcast skies, the water was a gorgeous, well, Azure, blue. I had expected to see  more people in the water at the beaches but oh well.  According to my calculations, the next stop was ours. There were only 3 stops and the last one was the train station where I think most of the folks on the bus were going to. I stared at our luggage, willing it to not be stolen. I then noticed one woman start to get up. I thought to myself, hmm, I bet I should be getting up too, this woman knows something. Lo and behold, our stop came up and we were just sitting there miles away from our luggage. I leapt up, shoved my sleeping husband into the aisle and we dove for our luggage. We got off the bus just in time with scowls from my husband and giggles from the passengers as the bus pulled away. We walked a half a block up and alongside a little park for half a block where we found our DARLING little hotel.

We are staying at the Hotel Victor Hugo. I found it on booking.com. I used that website to find a good price and location. Then I looked at tripadvisor to see the people's photos and comments. You should never trust only the hotel website's photos. The comments were almost all good. The only negative ones were from people who didn't like the little dog, Cosette who is said to be around the reception a lot. This is a positive aspect to me. I also don't listen to people who complain about European hotels that are "old" or "beat up". Most buildings in Europe are old. That is the charm. That is what I am looking for. I do not want to stay at a Hilton or Mercure. Reading the comments I learned that it is very difficult to find the front door as it is not marked at all. I am so happy that I read that because it proved to be very true. Even armed with photos of the door and gate, I was unsure of whether or not I was in the right place. But alas we were fine. We entered an iron gate that opened onto a little park like area, went up the stairs and were buzzed in after announcing who I was. It took me a while to get the door open because I am all wonky in my head and the doors are these giant wooden things.
The view from our hotel room

Sure enough, sweet, little, grey Cosette greeted us. That made me very happy, seeing a dog. The owner then greeted us and was super friendly. We got our key and he showed us to our beautiful little room. He must be used to Americans coming here because he told us that the toilet is supposed to be that loud and there is air conditioning if we needed it. It is warm and a bit muggy out but we choose to leave the beautiful french door open to the park across the street. The proprietor advised us to not sleep but to stay awake until nighttime to get rid of our jet lag. I am fine but the husband is just too exhausted so he is taking a 40 minute nap.

After our nap we began to explore the town of Nice. It is nothing like I thought or remembered when I was here 30 years ago. It is worth a whole blog entry to itself.


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