On Sunday, September 13th, the Murphys took us to dinner before dropping us at the bus station. It was raining and so we got soaked before hopping on the Citylink express bus between Galway and Dublin airport. But we dried out pretty quickly on what turned out to be a completely full bus (we weren’t able to sit together for the 3-hour journey). Once at the airport, we found the hotels bus and took it to the Travelodge South (Tim wrote about our experience), where we spent the night. The next morning, we were up bright and early to catch the hotels bus back to the airport for our flight to Nice. No hangar fires this time (ha!) so our travels went smoothly.
During the 2.5-hour flight, Tim got to know a woman from Italy who was native Irish. Turns out she had met her Italian husband while they were working on a cruise line while in the Bahamas, and they had been married 41 years. What a fascinating woman! She didn’t know Italian when they were married and moved to Italy, and taught herself the language by reading comic books. She told Tim about Barry’s Tea, an Irish staple, and so Tim had some on our return flight.
When we landed in Nice, we deplaned on the tarmac and took a shuttle to the terminal, where we quickly found the 99 bus to Gare de Nice-ville (the SNCF train station and public transportation hub). It took us a moment or two to figure out how to purchase our tickets to Villefranche-sur-mer and find the right track, but with a little help we found the right train and took the 6-minute ride east to our home for the week. It was pretty warm when we arrived in the south of France, and we had dressed for Dublin, not the Mediterranean. In addition, we were each carrying backpacks weighing at least 30 lbs, so we were feeling the heat (literally!).
We took a few photos of the walk from the train station to our rental apartment in the Vieille Ville (old town). When you look at the map of the old town in the photos below, look for the corner of Rue de May and Rue du Poilu and you will have found the location of our apartment. It was one street back from the quay and boardwalk, and the neighborhood was both charming and convenient, with a grocery store just around the corner and numerous restaurants within 5 minutes walking distance. The old town is pedestrian-only, with the exception of some scooters. We let ourselves into the apartment (video of the interior), dropped our bags, and almost immediately were back outside taking in the sites and sounds of our favorite French town!
The week went by really fast, with Tim playing catch-up on grading, and both of us staying up really late some nights, sleeping in most mornings, and just hanging around town. We spent a little time at the beach, but the waves were a little too rough to feel comfortable going in deeper than waist height. 🙁 Some of the highlights from our time in Villefranche include amazing meals at the various restaurants along the wharf and up the steps in the old town, spending the evening of our anniversary in Monte Carlo (only a few euros and about 10 minutes on the train), and enjoying staying in the midst of everything for a week!
On our last evening in Villefranche (Sunday the 20th), we went out just before twilight to walk around and photograph the town (and some interesting doors, design elements, etc.). We spent a few hours working, then went back outside just after midnight to walk around along the quay again and take a few photographs of the old town after dark. We are still charmed by this town.
The next day we checked out of the apartment, walked to the train station and headed back to Nice, reversing our trip from the previous Monday by taking the 99 bus to the airport and catching a flight back to Dublin. Both of us were beginning to feel like Galway was “home” and although we had enjoyed a wonderful time in France, we were really looking forward to getting back to Galway and starting to make ourselves useful.
The next post will catch you up on our first week back in Ireland, and tell a little more of what we’ve been learning.