Friday, September 25, 2009

Pre-Nice musings

Last full day in Italy, I'm sad to be leaving and sad not to be on holiday any more! It's been great relaxing, especially the past 5 or so days where I've had nothing BUT relaxation firmly on the agenda. All the cliches are true - the food is great, the people are nice, the streets are full of tourists and historic buildings... It's been lovely being in a not-so-touristy place, Genoa, where people even speak Italian to me, and STILL speak Italian to me even after I stutter out something like "una picolla acqua minerale naturale, per favore e basta" - so many superfluous syllables, it's like the opposite of French... The restaurant where I ate dinner tonight was the first I've been in in Italy with no English menu, and while it took some pondering (uovo is so easy once you click, but it took a while) I got there.

I must digress for a sec, while the conversation has turned to food, on the subject of focaccia. I have discovered that the delicious quiche-thingy-on-pizza-base that I raved about the other day was evidently a focaccia. I had another similar one for lunch the other day, made with pesto - also delish! And today for dinner I had a focaccia that looked at first glance exactly like a pizza, albeit one coated with soup-esque quantities of cheese sauce, but turned out to be two thin layers of pastry with a cheesy filling inside and more cheese sauce etc. on the top. For those not in the know, if you ask for focaccia in New Zealand you'll get a hunk of bread with rock salt and olive bits on top - I've never actually enjoyed it, but thought I'd try focaccia here because it is one of the regional specialities. As indicated, COMPLETELY different and totally delicious!

Anyway, today I headed out pretty late and went to the Museum of the Sea, which I fondly believed would be packed with tales of Genoese maritime exploration, trade, derring-do, plague ships, Columbus and the like... It turned out to be very focused on life at sea, the design of ships over the years, etc. Yawn! AND most of the explanations were in Italian, so I couldn't even be bothered pretending to take an interest in this old sextant or that old periscope... It had its informative bits in the explanatory panels (in English) which were provided to explain the theme of each room, but since I already thought the 10 euro entrance fee was awfully steep before I even got in, I was rather disappointed.

I made up for it with an afternoon of free activities (after a cheap lunch of regional trofie pasta - like fat, wriggly little worms - with pesto, in a spot perfect for Genovese people-watching) followed by some wandering around, an abortive trip to the central post office (it ran some sort of ticket system to force aberrant Italians to queue, which alarmed me slightly so that I decided to delay sending postcards until I can reach the familiar haven of La Poste in Nice), and a spot of reading/sunbathing by the fountain in Piazza Ferrari.

So... Nice tomorrow. Have just been making a to-do list (open a bank account - horror!, find a cellphone provider - confusion!, contact people about apartments - crushing exposure of inadequate francais!) so all-in-all, feeling pretty stressed right about now. I just emailed another assistant about grabbing a drink tomorrow night though, and turns out we're staying at the same hotel! Fate! I looked back over our messages, and turns out she actually told me that before I changed my reservation, but I swear, didn't take it in and it's complete coincidence... Feel like a right stalker though! It will be nice to have a friendly face to have a drink with on my first night in Nice though, especially since it's a Saturday night!

All the usual worries are bubbling up, paramount of which are the search for accommodation, the related concern that my money will run out, and anxieties about teaching, given I hated it back in Russia. I'm trying to calm myself and think about the positives - it's the south of France, if I hate it that much I can count the days between the 6 weeks of paid holidays we get during our 7 month contract, which will likely include Christmas in England with Mum & Dad, followed by them visiting me back in Nice (in term-time, but still), and the fact that I am looking forward very much to being settled somewhere and not have to turn up to a restaurant every night and ask for a lonely tavola per una (table for one). Oh, and being able to speak French again! I plan to be resolute like a mighty oak in the inevitable face of people trying to treat me like a stupide touriste and speak English to me. It will be a real joy to be able to communicate with (relative) ease again (as long as they don't put me on the phone!) and I'm really hoping to cement my command of French this time round.

Anyway, this is another long one in my prodigious output, I often wonder if anyone except Mum has the patience... so will leave it at that. Je vous verrai a Nice alors!

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