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After writing my last post, I started thinking about other travel snafus I have had to overcome. There was the time my brand new car was hit by a tour bus in DC four days before I was going to pack it up and move cross-country and one day before I was heading out of town for a wedding in Corpus Christi. There have been numerous delays and cancelled flights and one really bad case of lost luggage in Brazil. Then I remembered the time my mom was going to meet me in Nice. I had spent a week there with friends, she was coming to join me, and we were continuing on to Italy together. The weather in the Midwest caused her to be delayed by an entire day. I was so, so disappointed, as I had been anxious for her arrival. But had it not been for this setback, I wouldn’t have had what is now a day I look back on fondly as one of the best in my life.
I had expected my mom to arrive that morning, and she was now scheduled that night. Her arrival had been timed near a friend’s flight out and I had planned a coordinated pickup/dropoff. That was now out. After coffee and goodbye with my friend, I checked in at the room I had rented in the loft of a villa near the port and arranged for a taxi to pick me up there at 7:30 that evening to bring me to the airport. I distinctly remember the time, because the inn-keeper was a sweet young woman who made me repeat the name of the taxi driver and the time, over and over in my rudimentary and probably heavily American-accented French. Jeremy, 7:30. Jeremy, 7:30. We’ll get back to Jeremy at 7:30 later.
After this, I wandered over to a local grocery store and purchased a few necessary provisions for the next few days. Wine and cheese, naturally. And French yogurt in sweet little glass jars that Yoplait has since mimicked. With the day still ahead of me, I decided to spend the afternoon on the beach at the neighboring village of Villefranche-sur-Mer. My friends and I had taken the train there earlier in the week, and I noticed the bus line in front of the villa was an express route which would bring me there as well. After tracking down a drugstore and buying sunscreen that I still smell in my dreams today, I found the bus stop and waited. When it pulled up the driver’s look told me he thought I was a nut, asking him if “est-ce que ce autobus va a Villefranche?” but oh well. I wasn’t about to go and get lost.
The drive itself was picturesque, winding along a road above the Mediterranean. The bus stopped above the village and I wandered down through it to the rocky, sparkly shore. Should you ever find yourself planning a trip here, it is also an easy train ride, as the stop is very conveniently located, literally steps above the beach. But I enjoyed the stroll through the quaint village and made sure to stop along the way at a fruit stand to grab a snack and take the scenic route through Old Town.
I enjoyed the afternoon in my own company, reading, soaking up the sun and listening to music through my earbuds. It was a nice pause in the middle of a jam packed itinerary. Toward late afternoon I made the easy trek back to Nice, where I got ready to meet Jeremy at 7:30.
At the appointed time I went down to the courtyard to wait. I would like you to picture a taxi cab. Now picture a taxi cab driver. Now imagine the exact opposite of what you are picturing. I had to laugh when, at promptly 7:30, a sleek white Lexus pulled up, and out stepped a very tall, very handsome Jeremy dressed in an equally sleek suit and tie. Jeremy waited while I met my Mother. I briefed her on the humor of the situation, then Jeremy brought us back to the villa and bid us adieu.
The French eat late and we joined them that night. I Yelped a good, quietly unassuming restaurant located on the port waterfront and we enjoyed what was one of the best meals of our trip. Delicious bouillabaisse, foie gras pâté, and a bottle of Rosé, bien sûr.
I have to remember to thank those thunderstorms over Chicago for the memory of that day, spent in simple solitude in a foreign country. Of course I wish my mom would have been there to share it with me, but there’s something about the spontaneity and independence of a day spent adventuring alone that makes it extra special. And for that, I am grateful.