Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tuesday in la Napoule

How quickly weather here can change! They'd been predicting this wet front coming in mid week, but how much and when exactly and for how long -- those are mysteries that apparently only time can solve.

One thing's for sure: the start of the day is to be nicer than the end of it. And so I am happy to repeat yesterday's breakfast: outside, on the balcony, by the flowering rosemary, looking out toward the boats.

Though not a total repeat. The best bakery -- one just around the corner from me -- the one that had been closed on Sunday and Monday, reopened today and so I had my first introduction to their better than best baguettes and, too my chosen extravagance -- an almond chocolate croissant. (But it was a tough choice. These were in close competition: )

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The breakfast, by the rosemary bush:

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There is enough sunshine to make it a pleasant experience, but I'm wearing a jacket. It's a bit windy today. Maybe not mistral winds windy, but certainly gusty.

And sure enough, a hazy cloud cover comes in and I know I must hurry with my walk today because the weather will not last.

But you know how it is -- you get lost in email, you catch up on stuff, you polish your post from the previous day... Noon. It's noon when I finally leave the apartment.

According to the guidebook of nearby hikes (gratis Tourist Office), there is one that starts right across the street from me, weaves its way along the coast, then goes up into the hills and down again -- all in an estimated  two hours of trekking. (It takes me 2.5; I drift off course more than once, mostly deliberately.) It starts right here, on the little beach across the street:

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I almost don't go much further. The very first 100 meters poses a challenge: the waves are really picking up now, sending sprays of water over the path. I do not want to get drenched! A jogger comes running toward me. He looks dry. I shake off the last doubts and get moving.

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It's lovely along the coast. This is, of course, more densely populated than Cornwall's coast (that has to be an understatement of the day!) and yet the walk puts you quite in touch with the sea...

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And on the inland portion, I am again among the familiar Mediterranean vegetation that I so much associate with Sorede and the Languedoc region of France. But I am surprised at some of the flowers here. There's Spanish lavender and it's in full bloom now! It looks heavenly against a yellow backdrop!

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And, too -- lots of blooming freesia! How could that be? I don't recall seeing it in the wild before. The scent is unmistakable!

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There are two ascents to this loop -- none of them especially challenging and never too far removed from civilization but maybe that's good. Maybe my hikes into more desolate terrain were more enjoyable when I was a little more devilishly brazen? Maybe I don't feel the pull of that kind of a challenge so much any more...

On the second small summit, I look out over the bay of Cannes.

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Rocks again! Another selfie moment.

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And it is in many ways a selfie, meaning introspective moment, where I try to place this trip in the context of my other travels and possible future travels. One big challenge for me is to decide how to treat each trip -- whether it should be exploratory or merely comfortable and whether it bears repeating and if so, how often and how soon and with what expectations. So I think about all that as the sun fades and I zip up my jacket against the gusts of wind.

(Looking toward the hills behind me...)

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Once in the town again, I pass something that is emblematic of La Napoule: a blooming mimosa.

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This is a late one -- most will have passed their prime several weeks ago. Indeed, in February, La Napoule celebrates the festival of the mimosa. I'm told there is a parade with floats of yellow flowers and a crowning of a mimosa queen.

I go then to the sweet little grocery store where the fruits and vegetables are arranged in total attention to detail.

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I pick up more berries and a yogurt since I seem to have gotten stuck in this lovely habit of eating breakfast at home.

In the afternoon, I read reports as they came in about the plane that crashed just a short distance from here (some fifty miles due north; you could say it was just a little further than Grasse). Of course, I know that the weather in this region was fine and that other factors, therefore, contributed to the accident. It's strange how these tragedies remind you of your vulnerabilities even as flying is perhaps the safest mode of moving from point A to B. And it is uncomfortably strange, too, that my quiet corner of the world is in the news. If I had thought I'd encounter issues or unrest, I would have guessed they would be the kind that have created virtual military zones in France around the major train stations (the entrance to Cannes Station is blocked to traffic and there are fences and barricades and plenty of patrol people keeping watch). There definitely is a felt sadness when something or someone strikes at places nearby. I imagine the plane crash is in the conversation of many here, at La Napoule.

It's raining when I step outside to find dinner. I'm always very hungry then, since I don't each lunch here (the breakfasts and/or dinners are too big to accommodate yet another meal) and tonight I don't want to go far. Just at the corner, I have La Palmea -- liked by my hosts and, too, by the ever helpful Tripadvisor.

I go very early -- just after 7 --  so that I am the first one there. (When I leave, most of the room is filled.) A young woman is sitting to the side, feeding her baby. Of course I ask how old and when she tells me four months, I have to explain that "mine" (and I explained that as well, even though she knew I was the grandma) is just going to be three (months).

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From my table, I see that she is getting ready to leave. All the tall skinny (male) waiters hover.

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They all kiss the baby goodbye. Of course, they all kiss the mom good bye too. I am thinking -- the child already has a community here. What a lucky babe! Communities matter!

My meal is superb and extremely well priced. The main dish special, which they call a seafood wok, is a blend of fish and crustaceans and veggies in a delightful light sauce

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I have to take dessert - it's included in the price! A  home made tiramisu with red berries. Incredible.

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After, I walk the docks of the boats and sailboats. My hosts had said that the cost of a docking space here is exorbitant. Not that there are any available. Being such a coastal traveler, I am too aware of how many people have expensive boats. In the many dozen marinas I've walked through, the boats are always astonishingly large. Since I am not a boat loving person, I have no envy there at all. Only a fascination on how someone may love the darkness of the ocean or the sea and not have fear when facing its powerful anger. Because the sea does get angry.

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But not tonight. The rain has stopped and all is calm. Only a cat, dashing from one hiding place to the next, disturbs the stillness.

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I turn around and make my way to the warm apartment that I call home this week.