No Expectations Nice

It happened to me… how to handle getting sick while you travel. Taking it slow in the South of France.

Friends, you remember my glorious plans to spend a long weekend soaking in the sensual delights of the south of France in Nice, No? I planned to spend three days gorging on  sights, sounds, color, art… and of course, food and wine. I would leave chastened in wild Mediterranean good vibes– my inner Fauve satiated– ready to return home and embark upon the well behaved Swiss springtime.

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I was more than ready to welcome some color, clutter and chaos back into my life!

Well huh. Travel, as usual, was a fickle mistress, intent on teaching me lessons I had no interest in learning. This time it was that letting go of my expectations and adjusting my sails with the wind was just as important as dreaming big. Why? Because no sooner did my plane touch down on the Côte d’ Azur (which yes, is every inch as blue as I imagined it would be), the tickle in my throat blossomed into a full blown tiny-hamsters-clawing-desperately-at-my-larynx cough. I was experiencing one of every traveller’s top dreads, right up there with purse snatchers and bedbugs, I was getting sick on the road.

Denial was my first mode of action. I was just worn out from that early morning flight! All I needed was a nap! A three hour nap later, I woke up still feeling like I’d been run over by a cement truck. Despair set in. What about my itinerary!? This isn’t fair! I briefly considered dragging myself to Matisses’ house, the Picasso museum– all of it– in a haze of cold meds. But then, what would have been the point of that? Did I want to be a box ticking traveller, going places I couldn’t even enjoy just to say I’d been there? No way. So I decided to do something that’s always been a challenge for me–  I practiced non-attachment.

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Finding this friendly gentleman in my bedroom should have been my first clue that my Heart-Mind was about to start speaking…

Aparigraha, or non-posessiveness, is one of the 5 Yamas of Hindu scripture. Most of the time I tend to think of non-attachment or non-posessiveness as it has to do with material things, but when I truly endeavored to practice it, I am am always reminded of just how much posessiveness or attachment can manifest itself in every aspect of my life. I’m not just attached to my favorite dancing shoes, my stacks of well read novels or my beloved vintage flea market finds. I’m not just attached to my identity as a friend, a traveller, an artist, a teacher. I’m not just attached to my hopes, my dreams, my career plans. I am also attached to my idea of what I think an experience should be, what it’s supposed to represent in my life. Sometimes I’m so attached to these ideals that I’m not experiencing what’s actually happening in the here an now. I am holding on to something that’s a figment, and resisting the truth.

So instead of fighting my sickness, I invited it to slow me down. I took a long stroll down the pebble beaches of Nice and napped in the sunshine, allowing the sound of the waves washing across the rocks on the shore to lull me to sleep.

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What more could this girl need than miles of public beaches to stroll and untold warm rocks to sun herself on…

Instead of people watching for hours in a public square, I chilled on the balcony of my Air B & B room, drinking medicinal sage tea and befriending my hostess’ cat.

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If anybody asks.. I spent my weekend spooning with a green-eyed Frenchman.

(What!? It’s kind of true!)

Instead of pushing myself to dine out in a restaurant, I hit the local market, bought some bread, wine and fresh produce, and created myself a perfect picnic for one.

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Fresh veggies are just the beginning at Nice’s marketplace. There’s soaps, sea salt, dried Lavender and so many other heavenly things…

Instead of trekking from museum to museum, I chose just one to visit, Musee Marc Chagall. In my slowed down state I  was really able to appreciate the poetry of each painting and linger longer in every moment.

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Both Beat and Beatific. Slowing down gave me more time to spend with my dear friend Marc and his lovely stained glass windows…

I still went home feeling like I experienced Nice, it was just a different Nice than I expected. It was the Nice my body needed at that moment, but that my ego was resisting.

What do you do when your accommodation goes sideways? Here’s how I handled a different curve in the road. What’s your strategy for when travel doesn’t go as planned? Let us know in the comments!


11 thoughts on “No Expectations Nice

  1. “If anybody asks.. I spent my weekend spooning with a green-eyed Frenchman.” Clearly you have wonderful taste in Frenchmen! R&R in one of the loveliest of places, there are so many sights to see it is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of what people expect from the location. I am glad for you that you got to see some of the natural beauty made your own trail and took with it both inner peace and some lovely images to treasure. I found Nice wonderful, but too commercial when I visited, so escaped further along the coast and across the border to Italy which is also so worth doing if you can.

    1. Yes, I could see how Nice would be a really expensive tourist trap in the high season, so I’m glad I went in early May. I was thinking of escaping up the coast to Antibes… which is something I’ll do another time. Always good to leave a road untravelled so there’s a reason to go back. I’ll have to check out the coast of Italy as well someday.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Yes I know what you mean, it is definitely on my list to return there. Antibes was beautiful and although it’s been a few years since I was there, Ventimiglia in Italy was lovely.

  2. Congratulations! It can be so hard to let go of expectations like that–really heavy spiritual lifting, until suddenly the burden dissolves and leaves you that much freer. And, on the up side, now you don’t have to struggle through a terrible cold while working.

    I sometimes try to decide what one thing I want my daughter to learn and I come back again and again to “Listen to your body,” because so much self-care, so many decisions stem from developing a healthy relationship with your self.

    What a fabulous trip!

    1. “Listen to your body”, what beautiful advice to give any young person. I feel like I spent so much of my adult life trying to unlearn the cultural conditioning that teaches you to turn your body’s wisdom off. When you listen to your body you can transcend the unhelpful chatter of your mind and tap into your heart’s wisdom. It all starts with the body.

      I don’t remember who said this, but it has always stuck with me: “The mind makes an excellent servant but a terrible master.”

  3. Such a great post! Love what you speak to here about slowing down and being open to having a different experience from what we’ve expected. Great photos. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. What a wise and beautiful post! Good for you, for being able to let go of the Nice you had imagined and embracing the Nice where you actually *were* — one in which you needed rest and a slower pace. You’ve really taught me a lesson in aparigraha through your example.