Europe, France, Recent, Travel
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Family in France: A Weekend with My Brother

I attempted to set an alarm to drag myself out of bed and be productive Saturday morning, but in the end I woke up early enough only to eat lunch and work on an email in French before jetting off to the train station to head over to Nice. I made it to Nice and soon after found the airbnb where my brother was staying. Of course, being the only one of us with a working phone, I sat on the curb for about 15 minutes before he got my message and came and found me.

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And as he walked down the sidewalk it was as if nothing had changed—that it hadn’t been 9 months since we had last seen each other, that we were’t meeting in France instead of the US, that our lives hadn’t been completely turned upside down since we had last met.

After briefly gathering our thoughts in the apartment that smelled like five grandmas took up residence there, I brought them along the beach towards old town, where we caught the end of the market before having a necessary gelato stop in the center square.

It was blistering hot, but I wanted them to see the lookout point, and somehow we managed to make it up to the top of the hill only partially covered in sweat, before taking a rest in the shade while looking out over Nice and the Mediterranean, swapping stories about life.

In the nine months since we have last seen each other, I have spent 6 of them in France, decided that yes, I do really want to be a pastry chef, spent time working abroad in a language I’ve spoken for less than a year, and they have done things like buy a house and get new jobs and other adult things like considering buying a cactus together. Needless to say there was a lot to catch up on–and catching up while looking out at the Mediterranean Sea was the perfect way to convince them that I was being as much of an adult as they were 😛

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We made our way back down and through the park—Alex more than a little tempted to join the kids running through the plethora of water fountains. I wanted him to do it, but mostly because I wanted to get a video of him acting like all the other two and three-year-olds surrounding him.

Having not had a single cup of coffee the entire day, I encouraged us to find a cafe before dinner, and we found a cute if completely random cafe that was also a bar…and frozen yogurt store…and clothing store…? I don’t know. France.

Caitlin and I took pictures and videos of everything. It was lovely.

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Nearing the time of our dinner reservation, we wandered a few blocks over to where our restaurant was located—and I’m not going to tell you much in this blog post about it because it was worth enough of its own post—so please go read about it here!

At the end of the meal, I told the server that I wanted an espresso. This is not unusual in France, but even still she exclaimed “But you will be awake all night!” (it was about 10pm at this point).

Yes, but I still needed to head back to Juan les Pins to “boire un verre” with my team—and I had to be en forme!

Despite the train taking longer than usual and me being super paranoid that I would be late, I managed to make it to JLP just as my team was heading out to a bar and we met up on the sidewalk and walked together. I was terrified because my chef kept saying that we were going to a club, and that is so far from my scene even with my friends—much less with my chef! But we ended up at a cafe/restaurant/bar just down the street, and we took up several tables as not just the pastry team but several people from cuisine and service ended up joining us for a drink.

Even though several people remarked about how quiet I was, I had an amazing time. It was just hard to follow the six different conversations in rapid French happening around me at the same time, especially after a day of wandering all around Nice and speaking English!

Nearing 2am, the bar was closing and those of us who hadn’t already left had to make a decision—were we just going to go our separate ways, try to find a club or bar in the area that was still open, or would we go to someone’s apartment?

In the end 8 of us ended up at the apartment of the girls in cuisine, and there we stayed until 6am on their terrace, drinking, dancing, talking, and dancing some more. (I know I know, who knew I danced?) When it became obvious that none of the people who came in cars were planning (or capable) of leaving, Max kindly drove me home so I could attempt to get some sleep.

I honestly don’t know how the rest of them functioned, especially the girls who had to start work at 10am and were still awake when I left! They are made of stronger stuff than I, that is for sure.

Sunday it was my goal to show Alex and Caitlin a bit around Antibes and Juan Les Pins–with the main goal of retaining enough energy to have dinner at my restaurant in the evening.

So that meant a beeline to coffee. Lots of coffee.

As I recounted story after story of my time in the kitchen, Caitlin decided that my life was basically a modern day Downton Abbey, and that it would be a good idea to write a korean drama based on my life here—and as the weekend progressed our ideas got crazier and crazier. For example, there is an abandoned and completely empty shell of a hotel down the street from Belles Rives…which led us to deciding that one of the love interests ends up being a ghost, but you don’t find out until season 6. 😛

We meandered about Antibes for a bit–fortunately for our body temperature and unfortunately for the beauty of our pictures, it was quite cloudy in the afternoon, and it also happened to be a Sunday so a lot was closed up for the day. Nonetheless, I was still able to show off some of the charm and art of the city, and I think we all had a good time.

Still fairly early into the afternoon, we made our way back to Juan les Pins to get ready for dinner (and for me to lay in bed for an hour out of utter exhaustion). But really the day was just beginning, as we had a very special birthday dinner ahead of us–which really brought the whole modern day Downton Abbey vibe to life as Alex and Caitlin came to find me in my behind-the-hotel lodging and I brought them to the hidden-and-underground kitchen, where my coworkers looked at me a little strangely for being all dressed up and ready to eat at the restaurant instead of work with them.

The night was totally magical, and couldn’t have gone better had I scripted it into my Korean drama myself–but since I have so much to say about the dinner itself, you will have to read about the night here.

Sunday night continued to be special, as I went back to Alex and Caitlin’s Airbnb with them and spent a lovely, cool, quiet, peaceful and any other adjective you can think of to mean “content” night on the pull out couch in their living room.

The weekend seemed to last forever but it still passed far too quickly, and before I knew it (though we initially had the good intention of making our way to the beach in the early morning and completely slept through that possibility) we were eating breakfast before I ran off to work and they jumped on the train to Cannes. Though we managed to meet one last time for a very southern-French glass of wine on the beach after my shift ended at 11:30pm that night, I was tired enough that it was all I could do to focus on them and the present moment–but it was worth it as they left the next day to take their long journey home to Portland (via Nice, London, and LA).

One of the strangest things about Alex and Caitlin’s visit was that I had been looking forward to it and planning it basically since I got to France–and for five months it was on the horizon as something to look forward to and a milestone of the longest time I had ever been abroad. And as soon as the weekend passed I realized that the next time I would see family and the next big ‘event’ would be the end of my internship and my return home to the US! So of course in addition to being incredibly busy, I have also spent the past few weeks (I know I know I am behind on my blogging) waxing philosophic.

Thank you to all my supporters and also to new readers for coming and visiting me at Unmasked Adventures.

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