Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On The Road Again... Eze

August 12, 2013 - Eze

(note: all pics are at the hotel)

OK, so last night, the twin beds were actually twin slabs of limestone covered with sheets... Urgh! And the pillows were two small cotton balls... 

Travel today: beautiful blue sky with towering poplar trees along the route. The room had somewhat cooled off overnight and we were able to appreciate the area a bit more. 

View from the 2-lane highway

Breakfast buffet again. Poor Hubby wasn't able to get "American" coffee so he drank espresso. Not exactly the caffeine jolt he wanted, but it was what it was. I had some lovely loose English Breakfast tea. Croissants were lovely; the marmalade was tart. I watched as folks went back and forth with their plates. The bread! I mean, seriously: a 6" chunk of baguette, 2 croissants and a sweet roll. That was someone's breakfast. I can't imagine that much bread for one meal, though it is delicious! The fruit is also gorgeous when you can get it fresh in the hotels. Of course, lots of it fresh in the market stalls, but staying in the hotel means a "mini-bar" and the thing is keyed to the front desk: every time you open it, they figure you've eaten something. Which we didn't. We did, however, put our "nature bread" in there last night so that we could either eat it for lunch or have an on-the-road snack.

What we've been doing is eating breakfast, having a snack late-afternoon and then attempting the "more civilized" dinner around 7 - 7:30 p.m. The ice cream has been sinful. And delicious. I may actually LOSE weight on this trip because we're also walking a lot more than I'm used to. 

I'm using my sunscreen and my floppy hat regularly! Still amazed at the sun-bakers of all ages. I am a tad bit "less pale" but not tan. And I'm fine with that. 

11:40 a.m. - Gas stop on the way to Nice. Motorcycle drivers either have a vision of immortality or a death wish. They zip in and out of traffic, making their own lanes, using the shoulders. I don't care that the greater majority DO wear helmets. A helmet won't help you if you whack into a great big truck! 

We couldn't get gas at the first stop; we actually had trouble getting to the pumps! The lanes were confusing and we ended up zipping IN and then zipping OUT with nary a pump in sight that we could actually get close to. 

At the second stop, we made it to the pumps. But the choices were confusing, and we weren't sure what Mildred took, though we knew she wasn't a diesel. We did figure it out and got her all topped off. 

We passed through loads of vineyards and the buildings were lovely. Peach or tan stucco, or even the bare, aged brick. Almost always tile roofs in various patinas - rust, terracotta, lichen green and pale tan. I wish I could paint! I ate it up with my eyes, and will have to rely on memory.

We are still trying to figure out how to get Mildred to speak up! 

We didn't see olive groves in Provence, but the sunflowers and grapes made up for that. I think it was just the area in which we were traveling. 

Missed a photo-op of the Mediterranean as we passed through Grasse, Cote d'Azure, Antibes - very "To Catch a Thief" in the whole vibe. I recognized a lot of the scenery from the movies. 

View from the parking deck
1:20 p.m. - arrived at Hotel Les Terrasses d'Eze. And it's completely built into the mountain. I mean, our room, #414, is actually on the -4 level. BELOW ground. However, it does have a terrace, and we're sitting here with a view of the Med out the window. It's just as blue as I remember it. The cicadas are really loud! They're loving the heat. The room contains a double bed, a sofa bed, a desk and TV. There's a separate shower/sink and a room for the commode with a bidet! There's a trail from the terraces down somewhere. The breeze is wonderful; a different quality of sunshine. Clean and crisp while maintaining that "Mediterranean" almost tropical feel. "Tropical" isn't quite the word I'm looking for, but what I mean is a sense that you are in a climate that's totally different from what you may be used to in the States, even if you do travel to our south. 

Here's how you get in. You pull off on a small lane. I mean a TINY lane. You wait till the light turns green, and then you go in a very tight spiral, down, down, down, till you reach the parking lots. The deck is built into a structure that looks like a lighthouse, and it's just about that tight! Mildred was a tight squeeze; I can't imagine even my mom's Honda making that without a scratch. 

The hotel is a set of terraced suites in the mountain. If all we do is explore the immediate area, I'm happy. The pool is on -1 level and has an "infinity edge" that overlooks the Mediterranean. I never really thought I'd be on the Riviera. 

When you walk out onto your terrace the entire row of terraces on your level is open to view. Thus, the info sheet says: "To ensure your terrace privacy, we would like to recommend you to use the corridors inside the hotel when you leaving your room instead of using the terraces. Be sure to close the windows of your room when you leave to avoid any risk of intrusion. Thank you to take knowledge of the emergency exits plan behind the door..." (exact wording). 

Carmie was right: no washcloths! Glad we brought our own. Did a little "sink laundry" and will flip the shirts over the chairs on the terrace if it's not drying well on the rack in the bathroom. There was no patio umbrella, and after asking for one, I realized there WERE no patio umbrellas - someone just put one there. However, the staff was nice enough to just retrieve one from the pool area for us. 

2:30 p.m. - Hubby convinced me to take a walk up a 2-lane highway on the mountain. Of course, to get UP to the street level, he got me in an elevator even SMALLER than the Dead Nun Elevator. I was seriously claustrophobic, and the elevator was very warm. Good thing I trust him!! But still, I was scared. Following the dictum of "do one thing a day that scares you" -- well, I'm good there! Drivers probably thought we were crazy tourists. Well, yeah, we were. But Hubby was amazed at the colors and the "quality of the air" - that lightness that pervades the area and gives it its own glow and sparkle. He's been uploading pics to Facebook every day and while part of me doesn't like that, the other part is happy that he's enjoying the trip!

Will get to the pool then a late dinner. He wants to get some video, too. This IS the French Riviera - and most likely our only chance to visit this locale. 

Can't get Grace Kelly and Cary Grant off my mind! The one perfect touch would have been if there were fireworks over the Med!! 

Panorama (click to enlarge for best view)
Sometimes, you have a Bucket List. You've planned it and you know what you want to do. And sometimes, if you're very lucky and open to things, the Bucket List consists of things that are presented to you. Let's call it "the Bucket List you didn't know you wanted." You wouldn't have planned for this list in a million years, or even in your wildest dreams, but here it is. This trip is definitely the "Alt Bucket List" if you will. I never thought I'd take a dip in an infinity pool on the French Riviera, then sit on a terrace surrounded by a mild breeze, rhododendrons, 3 good-sized poplars, and an olive tree. Background noise includes traffic, a police siren far below, boat and jet-ski noise, the ever-present cicadas and a howling Doberman we met down the path, who is objecting to the police siren. 

The wild rosemary is amazing. The scent is so different, and I didn't know it flowered with tiny lilac-colored buds. Ours barely winters over, much less flowers. This also has smaller leaves, more dusty colored, and the scent is milder - not so much "pine resin" as "rosemary" - what you would think it would smell like. Both pungent and soft at the same time. I wish I could stick a stalk in my journal, but somehow, the customs folks wouldn't like that. I did do a lot of "feeling" and I was pretty well scented by the time we had made our way down the hotel trail and then back up. 

Unfortunately, it looks as if a large part of the original development just wasn't kept up. There were 2 tennis courts, which were pretty shabby, and it looks like the original concept was to have had 2 pools. But there was only the one, which was just fine with me. You can get an idea of it in the panoramic pic above. 

After we got back to our room, I grabbed my knitting and dragged Hubby away from the computer to do what they do best here: sit and be still. We just sat on the terrace, chatted and enjoyed being there. Sometimes, you don't have to be "doing." You just have to "be." 

7:10 p.m. - probably THE BEST dinner we've had so far at a hotel restaurant - Restaurant Les Princes. Our table was at the edge of the terrace, so we fought off our share of bees. And we had a stunning view of the harbor. My dinner was prawns with tagliatelle. Hubby had steak with garlic parsley butter. He also had a half-bottle of wine - note higher alcohol content. He did say it was "quite the buzz." For dessert, we both had Warm Chocolate Cake. 

Prawns: Nice portion of tagliatelle with a creamy tomato sauce and chunks of prawn. The centerpiece was a huge prawn which I had to dismantle to eat. 

Steak: Flank steak with fries and roasted veggie combo. 

Warm Chocolate Cake: Fresh-made cupcake-sized cake with a scoop of caramel ice cream, raspberry sauce and 3 large fresh berries. You cut into the cake to reveal a molten chocolate center, which oozes over the caramel ice cream and meshes with the berry sauce. Yep. Food porn. Yum. Yum. YUM.  Only thing was, one of my berries had a touch of mold on it, which yes, I pointed out to the waiter. 

We watched a quick sunset, Hubby had coffee. Nobody rushed us. Nobody cared if we sat there till 10 p.m. (which we didn't, but just noticing). Very enjoyable meal.

The light on our terrace was out - we tried all the switches and determined it was probably a blown bulb. It's a pity there's no screen on the terrace door, because we'd open it for the night (there's a "burglar stop" on the door, which only allows it to be open 6" or so). So far, the most pleasant, temperate weather we have had. 

We did lose our internet connection, which frustrated Hubby. Instead, he concentrated on how to make my camera take timed shots, we went back to the bar area and tried to get some night-views of the Med. We thought we could perhaps see the Milky Way but it was slightly overcast. Didn't get back to our room till nearly 11 p.m. and was again surprised at the number of families with kids who were still hanging out in the lounge and on the terrace. 

I noticed baby olives on the tree outside our terrace. (sigh) Baby olives. 

No comments: