Travel Journal: France
We journeyed north by train. I read Hemingway and was awed by the way the water seemed to go on forever. The sun always smiled the same way it did in my kindergarten drawings. I examined the geometric precision with which the vineyards had been arranged—I was rendered speechless. I was sitting next to my girlfriend Emily in a comfortable train car, surrounded by high-schoolers returning from spring break. I couldn't focus on reading The Sun Also Rises to save my life. All I wanted to do (and all I could do) was pull out my camera and review the hundreds of pictures I had snapped while in Nice Côte d'Azur for a three-day weekend. It was Sunday morning and we were headed home to Strasbourg, but Emily's sun-kissed skin served as a reminder of an unforgettable 72 hours in the south of France.
The arrangements for our trip to Nice were made almost a month in advance and, if I'm to be honest, it was almost by default that we chose to go to Nice on April 12. Flights to London had proved to be too expensive and there were no suitable hostels reservations in Interlaken, Switzerland. Thus, we chose Nice. When our trip rolled around, however, the mid-March cold snap we had suffered through had me on my knees praying for a 70-degree day and a cold drink. Nice promised to give us both.
Seven of us Centre students departed from Strasbourg at 8:14 p.m. on Thursday after our last class for the week. We took a French night-train to the Nice-Ville station, with arrival on Friday at 9:36 a.m. As we pulled into the station, some of the natives seated nearby stripped off their coats. Others slipped off jeans and sweaters to reveal bathing suits. I thought they had lost their minds. At one point, Emily elbowed me and asked, "Do they know something we don't?" Yes. They did.
We understood that we would be stepping onto land much warmer than that from whence we came. But we had no clue that, from the moment we left the train, our journey would be worthy of a Travel Channel mini-series.
We stepped out of the train station and the heat strangled us. The strength of the sun made our winter coats look ridiculous. Between exiting the station and walking to the main drag, the members of the group shared a telepathic moment—our first destination would be the beach.
After dropping our bags at the hostel, we hustled to the Promenade des Anglais and allowed ourselves to be swept up in the beauty that is the Mediterranean Sea.
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