We stayed at the Hotel Rex which was modest but comfortable and perfectly situated right in the thick of things, just a few minutes walk from the beach. The staff was warm and gracious, pitching in to help us lug our suitcases and dog carriers up the steep steps to Room 6. Once settled, we ventured out to explore. It was very hot! We ended up buying tickets for the top level of a tour bus so we could both see and learn about the city from a high perch and enjoy a steady breeze! The Mediterranean was magnificent and the color of the water a beautiful cerulean blue.
One of the great beaches in Nice, France. We were surprised at the size of the public beach (well over a mile long) and how many people were out enjoying the warm Mediterranean Sea. The shore is mainly rock instead of sand, but that doesn't deter anyone from venturing down to lay on the beach. Some parts are private and owned by the hotels across the street, but there are plenty of public beaches so that everyone can enjoy the shore. It was magical to be there.
During our double-decker tour bus rid, we stopped at a traffic light which gave me a chance as afternoon storm clouds passed by, to take a photo of the beautiful Cathedrale Saint-Nicolas Russian Orthodox church built in 1912 by Russian Czar Nicolas. The cathedral is made up of a harmony of pink bricks, light grey marble and brightly colored ceramic.It is crowned by six domes and contains fabulous treasures, icons, woodork and frescoes.
Randy, Delaney, Gina, Tucker and Scout the walk home after a great dinner in Nice. Traveling with the dogs was a peace of cake. They were welcome everywhere and behaved extraordinarily well. It gave us peace of mind to know they were with us.
While in Nice, we took a short train ride to Monaco, home of Monte Carlo. As soon as got off the train, we understood why people love to live and visit this beautiful country. The streets were clean. There were no homeless in sight. The architecture was stunning and the views of the harbor breathtaking.
Overlooking Port Hercule in Monaco. Monaco is the second smalled city in Europe (Vatican City located in the center of Rome is the smallest.) It has a population of the 33,000, with just under 85% wealth and moved in from other countries to avoid paying income tax. Most people can cross the length of the country in just under an hour.
Our next destination was Cinque Terre, a group of five small villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore) on the Italian Riviera. We traveled there by train from Nice. We stayed in Monterosso al Mare. The beach was sandy and clean, the water a gorgeous azure blue and the perfect temperature for cooling down from a busy day under the hot sun. Here in Monterosso, many parts of the beach are reserved for guests of the hotels across the street and throughout the town. Only a small portion is available to locals and people like us whose hotel didn't have a section of beach.
Local women waiting for at the butcher shop in Vernazza, Italy. Vernazza has no car traffic (a road leads to a parking lot on the edge of the town) and remains one of the truest "fishing villages" on the Italian Riviera.
The view of Riomaggiore, the most southern village. We visited each village via a water taxi that pulled up next to the dock and extended its gang plank so the passengers could quickly debark. Very unstable situation - not for the faint hearted! Each of the five villages was slightly different. If we go back, we plan to spend more time in Vernazza, our favorite village.
We hiked up above Manarola to get this shot. Time seems to have stopped at this village. The people are quite content. They have everything they need to survive as well as a tremendous view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Gina and Delaney stay cool with a cold drink while we wait for the train to take up from Monterossa to Firenze (Florence). Temperatures were in the high 90's for the entire trip. The heat really saps your strength, and was tough for our small mutts.
While in Firenze, we took a day trip to Siena and San Gimignano. We were in Siena just before the Palio, the traditional horse race run around the Piazzi del Campo on August 16th. The 17 Contrade (the city neighborhoods formed as battalions for the city's defense) vie for the trophy - a painted flag, also known as a Palio, bearing the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Though often a brutal and dangerous competition for horse and rider, the city thrives on the pride this competition brings. All of the locals, young and old, were wearing scarves representing the Contrade in which they live or were born.