A Travellerspoint blog

Goodbye Britain, Hello France.

From Brum to Nice.

sunny

Peter and his new friends.

Peter and his new friends.

We left The Adagio, Birmingham on Sunday the 15th of April and travelled down to London Euston by train. We passed some fields filled with yellow rape seed on the way. These added a welcome splash of colour to the countryside.

Peter on the train.

Peter on the train.

Fields of rape seed.

Fields of rape seed.

Fields of rape seed.

Fields of rape seed.

Fields of rape seed.

Fields of rape seed.

From London Euston we walked to Russell Square Station and then took The Piccadilly Line to Hounslow. This involved quite a lot of walking for Peter, but fortunately he managed it very well. We were staying for just one night in The Ibis Budget, Hounslow. It's a fairly basic hotel, but on the plus side it is right next to a Tesco Express and very close to a Wetherspoon's. There was no kettle in our room, but hot drinks were available downstairs in the lobby. Teas were free and coffees cost £2, except when breakfast was being served when these were free, too.

Our room in The Ibis Budget, Hounslow.

Our room in The Ibis Budget, Hounslow.

We had arranged to meet up with our friend, Michael. He came to our hotel, then we headed off to The Moon on Bright Water a nearby Wetherspoon's pub where Michael very kindly bought us a meal. I had a pepperoni pizza and Peter had his usual Wiltshire ham, egg and chips. We spent a very pleasant evening reminiscing and catching up on news.

The three of us.

The three of us.

Next day Peter and I headed off to Heathrow for our flight to Nice. It was a short flight of under two hours, but it still took a very, very long time. First it was delayed due to strong winds, then there had been a suspected bird strike on the incoming aircraft which turned out to be a false alarm. Then the truck that pushes back the plane failed.

Unusually enough for us we were travelling business class on this flight, so we were able to go to the lounge before boarding.When we finally got on the plane we were served afternoon tea, which was a selection of sandwiches and scones. I had mine with sauvignon blanc. Tea caused problems, as apparently all water related devices in business class were leaking and tea or coffee had to be made at the opposite end of the plane then carried the full length of the aisle.

In the airport lounge before boarding.

In the airport lounge before boarding.

Leaving Heathrow.

Leaving Heathrow.

Leaving Heathrow.

Leaving Heathrow.

When we landed in Nice, there was another delay while we waited for someone to be available to connect the steps for disembarking. Peter had wheelchair assistance all the way to the tram stop. We were going to take the tram, but couldn't add a single journey to our Cote d'Azure cards. It's a bit of a rip off at Nice Airport where you are forced to pay ten Euros for a return ticket at the airport stop unless you buy a multi day travel pass. We weren't happy about this, so we ended up taking a taxi for which we were overcharged. The joys of travelling from an airport. Our hotel was the Ibis Styles in Parc Phoenix. Peter chose a hotel near the airport, because we were arriving at night. The taxi got there very quickly and the driver was at least pleasant about ripping us off, though I am not sure that really helps. We just wrote it off as something to avoid next time.

We were really very tired by the time we got to the hotel. The short flight had taken all day. We just checked in and had our free drinks and headed to bed. When we asked for the free drinks, we were told we could only have one. I pointed out all other Ibises give one to each of us and called this hotel's policy mean, so the receptionist ended up giving us two free drinks just to shut me up. This partly made up for being ripped off by the taxi. In fact the hotel wasn't mean at all. They had free water, coffee, tea, croissants and pain au chocolate available all day. I thought this was pretty generous.

Our room.

Our room.

The hotel had a small rectangular outdoor swimming pool, but unfortunately it didn't open until May. It was possible to sit outside and eat breakfast next to it. We both said we would like to stay in this hotel again when the pool is open.

Peter next to the pool.

Peter next to the pool.

The pool.

The pool.

In the morning we decided to go to Parc Phoenix, a botanical and zoological garden, because it was right next to our hotel. It cost €5.50 each to go in. This is a beautiful park with hot houses, lots of different kinds of animals, a massive lawn, a lake and fountains. There's a museum right next to the park, too. It's called The Asian Arts Museum. I'm sure it would have been interesting, but we didn't visit it on this occasion.

Peter at the entrance to Park Phoenix.

Peter at the entrance to Park Phoenix.

Map of the park.

Map of the park.

In the park we saw lots of animals. We started with the flamingos. I liked the fact that their reflections made it look like there were many many more of them than there actually were.

A tangle of flamingos.

A tangle of flamingos.

Flamingos.

Flamingos.

Flamingos.

Flamingos.

Flamingos.

Flamingos.

Later I found a very well hidden crocodile. I could only see about half of his nose and it took me ages to even spot that. Crocodiles are so sneaky. To be honest they give me the creeps.

Crocodile.

Crocodile.

There were some extremely active marmosets running along branches and climbing trees.

Marmosets.

Marmosets.

Marmosets.

Marmosets.

There were several lizards. I think one was a statue, but as these lizards didn't move much it was very hard to tell. I thought several others were statues till they blinked or raised a foot or moved their head.

This iguana looked like a statue till it moved.

This iguana looked like a statue till it moved.

I'm pretty sure this was a statue.

I'm pretty sure this was a statue.

There was a large python in a glass case. I was photographing it when a little boy turned up and stood next to me to see it too. He called his dad over to show him and somehow his dad initially couldn't work out what his son was looking at then suddenly gasped in horror when he finally noticed the huge snake. I'm not sure how he managed to miss it.

Python.

Python.

Outside there was a very large lawn and lots of people were picnicking there, including several school groups. There are quite a few things for kids here, such as playing areas and rope courses.

Angel Trumpet on the picnic lawn.

Angel Trumpet on the picnic lawn.

There were lots of animals outside, too, including: parrots, peacocks and grey crowned cranes. One of the grey crowned cranes was getting very agitated at having people near him and began leaping about making loud noises. I felt a bit sorry for him. I wonder if they had a nest they were protecting.

Grey crowned cranes.

Grey crowned cranes.

Grey crowned cranes.

Grey crowned cranes.

Peacock.

Peacock.

Of all the birds I saw here I especially loved the ostriches, even Peter managed to see them, though he pretended he couldn't just to wind me up. I got a photo of him with them.

Peter with the Ostriches.

Peter with the Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

There was a farmyard area with geese, chickens, goats, sheep and pigs. Some of the kids on the school trip were really excited by them and kept waving at them. They were quite cute.

Goat.

Goat.

Goat.

Goat.

Geese and chickens.

Geese and chickens.

Goats and chickens.

Goats and chickens.

There were also some ring tailed lemurs rushing around their enclosure.

Lemurs.

Lemurs.

Lemurs.

Lemurs.

I also saw several wallabies. These were very popular but difficult to photograph as they loved to stay in the shade where they were fairly camouflaged.

Wallaby.

Wallaby.

Wallabies and chickens.

Wallabies and chickens.

There was a porcupine who wouldn't pose. He just looked like a big heap of prickles.

Porcupine.

Porcupine.

We had a look at the fountains and took a walk by the lake. There were other water features such as: waterfalls and streams.

By the lake.

By the lake.

By the lake.

By the lake.

The lake.

The lake.

By the lake.

By the lake.

Peter by the Fountain.

Peter by the Fountain.

Fountain.

Fountain.

Waterfall.

Waterfall.

Stream.

Stream.

Fountain.

Fountain.

This park was good for Peter as the paths were mainly flat and there were plenty of places to sit down and have a rest. As half of the park was indoors and half outdoors it really is a place for all weathers.

Peter in the garden.

Peter in the garden.

Peter in the park.

Peter in the park.

Peter in the park.

Peter in the park.

Peter in the garden.

Peter in the garden.

In the garden.

In the garden.

In the garden.

In the garden.

Hot house.

Hot house.

Inside the hothouse.

Inside the hothouse.

Peter by the hothouse.

Peter by the hothouse.

It was great to visit in spring time as many of the trees in the park were laden down with beautiful white, lilac or pink blossom. I found this really lovely.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

I even found a cotton tree with huge red flowers. There are lots of these in Hong Kong, but I haven't come across them anywhere else. These trees are stunning when they are flowering. When they release their seeds later on in the year, it seems like it's snowing.

Cotton trees.

Cotton trees.

Cotton trees.

Cotton trees.

Cotton trees.

Cotton trees.

I was delighted with all the beautiful, colourful flowers that were absolutely everywhere in this lovely park.

Arum lily.

Arum lily.

Arum lily.

Arum lily.

Crown of thorns.

Crown of thorns.

Blue flowers.

Blue flowers.

Flower.

Flower.

Flowers and archways.

Flowers and archways.

Colourful flowers.

Colourful flowers.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Bromelia.

Bromelia.

Later when we went back inside the hot houses, I found an area devoted to orchids and another to desert plants.

Orchids.

Orchids.

Orchids.

Orchids.

In the desert area.

In the desert area.

There were lots of hibiscus flowers in a range of bright colours, too. I always think these look very tropical.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

We left the park with the intention of walking straight to The Promenade des Anglais, which we did, but in this area it is behind the airport, not next to the sea, so it's not very scenic. It's quite a walk just to reach the sea and Peter was tiring, so we abandoned this walk and went back to the hotel for a free coffee and a rest.

Later we took a tram towards the centre of Nice, but got off as soon as we could see that we were very close to the sea.

We walked along The Promenade des Anglais for a while. Peter loves this because it is completely flat and there are many many seats. It was lovely. The sun was out, the lapping of the sea was making us drowsy and the sea and sky were both a wonderful bright shade of blue. Quite a few people were in the water swimming or paddling. The weather was gorgeous though a bit windy.

Peter on the Promenade des Anglais.

Peter on the Promenade des Anglais.

Peter near lots of flags.

Peter near lots of flags.

The beach.

The beach.

The beach.

The beach.

The beach.

The beach.

Peter on the Promenade des Anglais.

Peter on the Promenade des Anglais.

Us at the beach.

Us at the beach.

When we felt we had walked enough, we took a tram back to the hotel. I bought a couple of things from a shop and then we had ham and cheese pizza and beer in the hotel. It was really very good. There is one restaurant very near the hotel and others a bit of a walk away. We were tired so went for the easy option.

It had been a lovely day and it was wonderful to finally see the sun again.

Posted by irenevt 21:29 Archived in France

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Comments

Hello, Irene! Thanks for your great virtual tour! I was delighted to see your amazing photographs of the animals and flowers! You seem to have good luck with weather! Enjoy!

by Vic_IV

Hi Victor, we had lovely weather in Nice though we flew out of it in a thunderstorm with torrential rain.

by irenevt

loved the photos of Nice. I have not been there much and it was a long time ago.

Here, the taxis at the airport have to pay a fee in order to be licensed to pick people up, so it is always cheaper to arrange for a non airport taxi to pick us up. And probably also a little bit illegal.

by greatgrandmaR

Hi Rosalie, Nice is a gorgeous place in itself and there are lots of lovely places nearby.

We put a little extra money onto our travel cards in case we go back. Hopefully then we can travel from the airport without overpaying.

All the best, Irene

by irenevt

I love Nice. When were flying in and out, we often stay at the Novotel across from the airport. It's just around the corner from the Parc Phoenix but we've never gone there. Obviously, we should. I loved your pictures. Oddly, I taught in a music camp on Haiti for many years and we always joked that the Trumpet Flower was the official camp flower. I love them. In the evening they smell wonderful. When we lined in southern California, we had one. Tried to grow one here but lost it to frost and haven't tried again. I hope you're safely home by now.

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally, we are safely back in HK now. Our flat was all mouldy. Spent yesterday scrubbing it from top to toe.

by irenevt

Hi Irene,
Looks like you are doing a lot of sightseeing in Scotland, England and now France. You must be happy to have a bit of a warmer weather in Nice. Last time I've been to Nice I was over 50 years ago, in the 70s lol. Have a good time
Anne

by MAd4travel

Hi Anne, we did some sightseeing but not as much as we hoped. The weather was fairly naff and I came down with flu. Still it was good to catch up with family and friends. Back in Hong Kong now. I hope you weren't in Taiwan at the time of the earthquake.

by irenevt

Great to have such lovely weather after all the wet weather in Scotland. The park looks perfect for both of you. Lots of resting places and gorgeous flowers too.

by Catherine

Yes it was perfect for us and just a couple of minutes away from our hotel. If we ever go again, I think we will take a picnic.

by irenevt

What a day for sure! Beginning with the flight to France. Loved the story of the snake. 5,5 euro is so little for a zoo and you saw loads of things. Nice is definitely worth a visit!

by Ils1976

Hi Ils, this park was certainly good value, but it's not exactly a zoo more like a nature park. There aren't any really big animals. It's definitely worth visiting though.

by irenevt

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