Sunday, August 17, 2014

La dolce vita

We've been back from vacation a week now and I'm just getting around to writing about it.  Blame it on the post-vacation blues.  I really was not ready to return to reality after only one week of vacation and I'm jealous of the friends we were with who were on 3 or 4-week vacation sprees.  But at the same time I realize one week is certainly better than nothing so I can't complain too much.

Our vacation ended up being more of a whirlwind trip through the south of France and Italy but I still found some time to relax beachside.  We left Bordeaux on Friday night and drove out to the Arles area where we stayed the night.  On Saturday we visited the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue and Arles before continuing on to Nice where we were staying with a friend for two nights.

a lake and salt deposits in the Camargue

Les Arènes in Arles

a square in Arles

Les Arènes

While in Nice we went out in the old town, relaxed on our friend's balcony with his incredible view over the sea, enjoyed his pool and beached it in Antibes.  It's been years since I've been to Nice and I think I had forgotten how beautiful the area is.  Though it will never be my favorite city in France, the location is perfect as any French person will be quick to tell you.  On the sea and near the mountains...perfect for summertime water sports and winter skiing (though I personally do not ski).

out in Nice...a cocktail at the American bar our friend took us to

the view from our friend's apartment

the port in Antibes


the beach and town of Antibes

Monday we headed off to Italy where we met our other friends at their apartment in a small beach resort town called Lido degli Scacchi on the Adriatic.  Their building is directly on the coast with its own private beach.  We spent two glorious days being as lazy as possible at the beach and then going out at night to enjoy delicious Italian foods and wines as well as a number of cocktails at different bars and clubs in the area.

a morning at the beach in Lido degli Scacchi

out for cocktails in Italy

our final afternoon at the beach in Lido degli Scacchi

Lionel and I drove up to Venice for the day on Thursday since it was only an hour and a half away and Lionel had never been.  It's been ten years since my last trip to Venice and I had forgotten how magnificent, romantic and charming the city is.  We got an early start and then wore ourselves out spending the entire day exploring Venice on foot.  Originally we planned to take a vaporetto from the train station to Piazza San Marco but after seeing the line to buy tickets we decided we would just walk.  In the end it was a great idea. We were really able to explore a lot of Venice on foot that way, winding our way through the city, and we knew we would keep going because our final destination was Piazza San Marco.  Lionel couldn't go to Venice and not see Piazza San Marco! On the way we got lost along the tiny streets, alleys and canals of Venice but made sure to check out the highlights such as the Canal Grande and the Ponte di Rialto.  We also stopped to see almost every church on our way.  Once we made it to San Marco we decided to continue on, all the way to the Arsenale di Venezia. Originally we thought we would walk all the way back to the train station along a different route, but at the point we were so exhausted that we decided to catch the vaporetto and at least see a little of Venice from the water as well.  And it was definitely worth it!  We had a great day in Venice, except one little mishap. Half way through the day I may or may not have very stupidly slipped on a step and ended up halfway in a canal, in a white skirt.  My skirt was stained and drenched and we could say that more than just my ego was bruised.  Not exactly the way one dreams of strolling around such a stunning city but I tried to make the best of it and enjoy the rest of the day.

the Canal Grande

wandering around Venice

the Canal Grande and Ponte di Rialto in the background

view of the Canal Grande from the Ponte di Rialto

a canal and gondolas

Piazza San Marco

view of San Giorgio Maggiore

Our final day in Italy was Friday and we, of course, spent it soaking up some more sun on the beach. Saturday we headed back to Nice, hoping to make it in early enough to hit the beach for a few hours.  But, alas, traffic near the French boarder was not in our favor and it took us about 3 hours longer than expected to make it back.  We spent one last night in Nice and on Sunday we made the long drive back to Bordeaux which was, surprisingly, traffic jam free.

Probably the most disappointing part of the trip, at least for me, was realizing just how badly my Italian has suffered from lack of use in the past 7 years since I finished studying in Rome.  I mean obviously I know it is easy to forget a language when you don't use it and I knew it would be nowhere near as good as it once was, but still I didn't expect it to be quite as bad as it was.  I could barely even manage to get my mouth to form a coherent sentence, though my brain seemed at least somewhat up to the task.  Guess I should see this as motivation get out my old books and start studying!

It was quite the trip but just what I needed!  Definitely much more relaxing than my trip to the US in June, the weather was perfect and we had a blast with our friends!


  1. Did you enjoy Arles? I'd like to go there. I'm a fan of Van Gogh.

    1. We did like Arles but we didn't have a lot of time there. We only got to explore for a couple of hours because we lost so much time trying to find parking. I would like to go back some day and spend more time exploring. They city is very pretty and there are quite a few things to see and do both in Arles and the nearby area.