4 January 2013
Cloud and rain clung tightly to Liguria, unloading more rain, as if the Northern Apennines have caught some lifeless prisoners and kept them swirling around the foot of its range like lost souls moaning for a way home but have lost their directions.
We took a cab ride from Genoa mid-morning and made our way through torrential downpour, fog, and humidity. We stopped only once at an Autogrill, which is the highway shops selling food, coffee, and gifts. Its food is much better than ones you would find in America.
We made it to Le Meridien by half past noon, rain still pouring down like heaven was expunging a soaked towel. Since we would only have that one day in Nice, I forced myself to get out and explore. With a shared hotel umbrella, we passed by a tent set up for the marathon the following day. Turning off Boulevard Jean Jaurès, we found ourselves in Vieux Nice, the old part of town. Though most of Nice feels like an old city with elegant facade, opulent and decorative, Vieux Nice is tightly built buildings, facades are flat with traditional green French windows, streets small and claustrophobic, rain pouring down like streams, the smell of urine and fish slightly tinged the air.
Could one imagine the stench when the area is displaced by fish market, fruit, vegetables, workers, shoppers, heat of summer, and cigarette and alcohol when night rolls in?
Making our way through Vieux Nice, we ended at Place Garibaldi. An Italian hero, Garibaldi actually hails from Nice, his hometown. The square has four corners, all designed and architected to look the same, his statue off centered as criss cross street seemed to meld with the walkway. A tram cuts through, a mesh wire ornament adorn the center, not giving much shelter to the rain, a small theater sits on one corner, restaurants on all four sides.
We stopped at the famous Café de Turin, famous for its oysters. However, 6 pieces started at almost €20, which made me balk when I mentally convert that to dollars. Instead I got 6 crevettes des rosées, prawns with heads on and shared a pot of moules mariéneres, soup of mussels in garlic water. Service was lacking, as per French attitude. We finished off dessert and coffee around the corner at a patisserie Serain Cappa, where we got petit Marchand and coffee eclaire. Cafe au lait was burnt, unfortunately. Veering off tourist spots would be more ideal for local cuisines.
Rain let up a bit as we made our way through Vieux Nice, connecting towards Promenade du Paillon. Apparently, this was a promenade’s claim to fame is that it runs through the city. By Jarden Albert 1, a small holiday fair and booths are set up. Ferris wheels, merry-go-round under a Christmas tree, a red and white tree made by recycled bottles powered by cyclists, and old Bavarian-like booths offering food like Nutella churros, candy apple, crepe and unique gifts like chocolate olive oil and artisanal cheese adorn the square. Unfortunately, the sky decided to purge more water, sending tourists and locals running for cover.
We rushed back to the hotel, relaxing a little and made our way to an early dinner to prepare for an early flight home.
Around the corner from the hotel, shops and restaurants nestled at a star intersection. We braved to Brasserie de Lorraine hoping the food wouldn’t be too touristy. I ordered a classic tartare de boeuf, which the waiter was quick to tell me was raw, which I already knew. A sizable portion with amazing frites arrived and I was happily full, (finally!) finishing with a cup of earl grey tea.
As we found a cup of coffee nearby, I had asked when our flight was and that was when we learned our flight from Nice to our connecting flight at Frankfurt was cancelled. No email. No phone call. No alert. Only when you open the app and selected the flight information. For someone like me who has no internet connection at all, I would never have found this out until I went to the airport in the morning. It was infuriating as Lufthansa, our flight, didn’t even have the courtesy to alert us. To make matters worse, when we asked what to do, they told us it was up to is to find a way to get to Frankfurt for our 11AM flight. I was outraged at their customer service.
I work at a customer service company and we would never treat our customer that rudely, telling them, oh well, it’s your problem. Excuse me, you are the airline. You cancelled my flight. Therefore, you help me with options. Instead, I was asking what about Paris, Marseilles, going back to Genoa and flying for Zurich, and instead, they said fly to Frankfurt the next day if there’s a flight and find your own hotel for a flight the following day. I have never been to Germany, I don’t speak the language, I don’t have phone or internet access. They even said one of us could fly back to the state and not both of us. It is an insult how these airline works. Considering what a conglomerate Star Alliance is, and how faithful I have been to their airline for 10 years, I am appalled and in disbelief that they had no options or even trying to be a good travel agent with options.
This will be my last flight with Lufthansa, which they moved us to a flight two days later, missing work, extending my vacation days, which are so dear in the state, and missing my two pets back at home.