Last October my mother and I went on our very first mother and daughter trip. I will treasure the memory of those 29 days forever. Two women together, sleeping in one hotel (most were bed and breakfasts) room, and not a single quarrel. Not even a minute of irritation, we had a ball.
I discovered my mom’s an irrepressible flirt - with everyone, men, women, children. She likes people. And not only do I love my mother, I like her. For me, that’s the greatest gift of all time. I know, because, as all mothers do, I love my three sons, but even more important, I like them, I enjoy spending time with my boys.
We flew to Nice, France via London, business class. Whew! I can see what the fuss is about - the seats morphed into beds, your own personal DVD, outlets for laptops, china and crystal for meals, and, of course, the champagne flowed.
Nice’s airport proved typical of the area, quaint, charming, and dedicated to tourists. A handsome immigration official broke into a spattering of French when we presented our Trinidadian passports. He bought us coffee (his shift ended with our flight) and arranged a taxi into town. Who said the French weren’t friendly?
Having travelled over 22 hours, we needed baths and sustenance. Our unique bed and breakfast, run by a Scottish couple (go figure) provided both. Refreshed, replenished, we headed out to explore the city.
I love Europe. I love the absence of chain restaurants and the same-old, same-old stores. I love the way people fill the streets walking, talking, and greeting each other. The cheerful, “Bonjour, Comment ca va?” when you enter any old-world shop. As we walked, the salty tang of the sea became more evident and we finally reached the coastline.
My first sight of the Mediterranean (in France anyway) made my lungs stop functioning. The Promenade des Anglais, a boardwalk built because the visiting English ladies didn’t appreciate the harshness of rocks on their dainty slippers, decorates the horse-shoe-shaped harbor like a ballerina performing a graceful pirouette. Here the sea is a cerulean blue, and waves lap creamy froth in gentle sips over sun-bleached shale-colored pebbles.
The streets are wide and multi-laned, with supple palm trees dividing the coming and going traffic. Compact cars bleat forward in jerks and starts, like toddlers unsure of their balance.
We found Nice’s famous open-air market, the Cours Saleya, not five minutes later. What a treat for the senses. Fresh flowers of every shape, color, and scent prompted deep inhales every few seconds. My mom, whose green thumb persuades every plant to flourish, seemed like a humming bird flitting from bunches of lavender to sprigs of thyme to huge ‘Lady of the Manor’ arrangements.
I headed for the food stalls, the golf-ball sized olives redolent of garlic and feta. I sniffed the plump scarlet tomatoes, each one smelled of fields and grass. Heady, drunk on aromas, I tasted delicate fronds of frisee lettuce, nutty and sharp arugula leaves, which melted on my tongue.
Dusk fell upon us like a thief in the night, sudden, surprising, and, all at once, we were hungry. On the way back to our B&B, we poked our heads into an alcove and discovered a ten-seater restaurant, the far walls of which were lined with glass-shelved cabinets filled with miniature bottles of brandy and cognac, France’s famous smuggled exports to England during the war years (think the nineteenth century here).
Foie gras, Lamb, oysters, and wine, my idea of heaven, and this was the first night of the trip. I didn't think it could get any better, but it did.
Stay tuned for Day 2 - Antibes.