Anyway after a couple of days in Nice, Maurice and Ingrid have arrived to pick us up and return to their place……and they have also sorted out where we are having dinner with them tonight. Apparently Ingrid’s friend Gauvin owns and runs a nice little restaurant in downtown Nice that we are dining at. We arrived early and were welcomed with open arms. Talk about great “southern hospitality” in France.
“Les Sens” is a stylish place with elegant uplighting creating just the right ambience in the entire dining area without being over bearing. The staff were attentive and seemingly quite happy in general and they do know their product line indeed. They are social and very funny in a good way to deal with. It makes the dining experience so much more entertaining when you have great people looking after you.
We started with a beautiful and very delicate “amuse-bouche” of ginger infused carrot puree. I thought if this is the appetiser then the meal will be incredible. I followed with a “duck foie gras” with “green beans” and a main of “cod fish with roasted capsicum, vegetables and lemon mousse.” Dessert was “deconstructed black forest cake.” Karine ordered a very nice local bottle of “Bandol Rouge” which complimented the entire meal.
To be honest I don’t remember the names of each dish as it has been over a week since we dined there, but I will say quite honestly that it was one of my top 5 dining experiences ever. The atmosphere, the company, the staff and their knowledge made this a truly wonderful experience.
I must without hesitation, say the food was truly incredible. This is five star dining in Southern France. It is everything that I have heard about amazing food in France and more. The place deserves a Michelin Star and if you are ever in Nice be sure to make time and a booking to dine in this purely boutique eatery.
To Gauvin and the staff who looked after us “Merci beaucoup “Good Humans” et bonne chance avec votre restaurant”…………………..
A couple of days ago became a landmark day for me, on my journey around the globe. I was heading to the south of France with Karine and we were heading for Nice! This incredibly famous French Riviera City I had heard so much about. I had seen it in movies and heard about it from friends who had been there. It was going to become a reality for me. I was pretty excited about it too I must say.
Visions of blue and white striped umbrella’s along the pebbled coastline filled my head. A plethora of European super cars lining the streets, incredible fashion and beautiful people everywhere. Well, that was what I thought.
Boy, did I get a surprise. It was only a little bit of this and a lot of very very “normal”. The surprising and very comforting thing about Nice is that it is not to dissimilar to many other coastal cities I have been to. It’s a little like Sydney’s Bondi Beach on steroids and no where near the amount of blondes.
The food here is a fusion of both cultures and the alfresco dining is just simply incredible. We stopped in for breakfast at “Pain et Cie!” (Bread and Co.). It’s a really stylish cafe right near the Cours Saleya Markets (the town square flower market) and the brunch was great. Coffee is definitely Italian inspired, aromatic and strong. It was a great start to the day and we knew we would be wandering the streets for a while so it also helped our energy levels.
Strolling through “Old Town” Nice was an experience second to none. Narrow alleyways barely separating the small outlets and eateries on the street. Washing hanging above your head on makeshift clothes lines strung up against mustard and euchre coloured buildings that date back a few centuries or more. It is truly beautiful and inspiring.
Passing a small plaza we decided to stop in at the very famous Fenocchio. This master ice creamery has been operating here since 1966 and I have to say the flavours are incredible. I tried a scoop each of fig and chilli chocolate. Oh……My……..God…..You cannot not go to this bastion of chilled delights. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
We then walked down the “Promenade des Anglais” where the beach is a field of beautiful polished and rounded pebbles with turquoise water lapping at the shores. There really are blue and white striped umbrellas in partitioned bars and restaurants along the waterfront. The architecture is a fusion of Italian and French. There are impressive villa’s in the affluent areas and then you have typically simple houses across the suburbs. Apartments are definitely the most affordable and abundant form of dwelling in the city.
Be assured this place is divine! Finally making it down to the Balearic Sea on the southern coast is a bucket lister for me. This was a wonderful first day in Nice and one I will remember for a very long time.
While settling back into “normal” life for a while and organising our next little jaunt down to the south of France, I have also resumed my french studies and am re-acclimatising myself to the way of life here on a day to day basis. Like the beautiful fresh veggies from the garden and the walks in the forest after dinner at night. Its daylight here until 10pm at the moment……….its wonderful!
There are so many things that I have taken for granted previously that I now need to go and purchase so I can get some sort of simple routine going. I need electric hair trimmers, running shoes, casual clothes that aren’t used for climbing and I am even considering buying a cheap bicycle, so I have some mode of transport and a way to keep my cardio fitness up.
These small things cost a little but they are things that make life a little happier for me. Oh…don’t for one minute think I am not happy with my life……I love my life incredibly and I am happy.
I also thought it would be a good idea to have little projects that I can do to keep myself occupied during the day. So K and I recently cleaned out the attic in the garage. As soon as I saw it I thought…..hmmmm I could build a climbing training wall in here!
I wonder how that would go down? Well, it went down rather well and now I am designing and building a little training area for Karine and I to play on.
We recently caught up with Karine’s niece Marie-Lou, who told us about her French language tutor. Marie-Lou’s tutor also teaches French as a foreign language (C’est tres importante), so K called her and I now have a language tutor that is not far from home. I am very excited about this as I do want to speak French well. Who would have thought I would learn a new language at 50?!
So, to be honest life is now about settling for a while and finding goodness in the simple things. I know what its like to be stressed out and to be seemingly fighting for every inch of my being, but now its about simplicity. Doing the simplest things that help me remain intact and happy throughout the days, months and years ahead. It’s not planning for some traditional version of the future, it’s living and learning daily and being grateful for what I have.
These little projects allow me to learn new life skills. They also allow me to work on my weaknesses. To problem solve more efficiently and importantly how to communicate more clearly. These are my goals for the coming period of time. How long that will be…..Who knows?!?!
So, a little time has passed since my last burbling’s and a lot has occurred here on our tiny island home. We have had friends come and go in the last couple of weeks. We have climbed a lot and tried to rest a lot as well. Climbing continually does take a serious toll of the body at times and the walk-in’s we have been doing have zapped some power as well. Some of them have been up to 50 minutes and mostly up hill. Tiring stuff indeed.
One exciting thing has been the very big release of a lot of backed up emotional stuff that has been inhibiting me for the last couple of weeks. As much as I hate to say it, its better to process these feelings than not at all, as the blockage can create other limitations and health issues that I don’t really want or need. Karine took me on a beautiful long walk on the island of Telendos to clear my head and regain a little positive flow.
We walked up to Saint Constantine’s Chapel on the North ridge of the island and just enjoyed the walk and the vista looking back over Kalymnos. It is a beautiful spot and the ruins of the Byzantine settlement literally eighty vertical metres below it, are truly amazing. The chapel is the smallest I have seen here and the frescoed dome is almost unrecognisable. I am not sure of the age, but I will go with ancient.
Our friends Nic and Dave turned up from the UK and we had a great time seeing them although they were a little disappointed with the weather as it was a little shit for the two weeks they were with us. Nic and Dave’s lovely daughter came out as well and unfortunately did her shoulder a few days before leaving which put a real dampener on the trip for them.
While all this could sound a little negative, I have to say a lot of positive things are occurring in general on this trip. Growth is never a negative thing and progress is always a good thing. While I did get a little down about things recently, I have gained a lot and had a major breakthrough in my motivation and attitude. I am grateful and excited for this.
Arriving here a little unfit and after not climbing for a month, it took some time to get back on board as such. Now our fitness is great and we are both climbing well and sending projects quickly. Karine is cruising the majority of the 6b’s (19/20’s) she is climbing and sent her first solid 6b+ (20).
I have on-sighted my first 7a for the trip and ticked another very quickly. Yesterday I sent my 100th pitch for the trip and was surprised to find this out when I logged my routes for the day.
All in all it has been a good trip and the conditions have allowed us a little time for other things too. We really do have a “second” home here, although we really don’t have a first home at the moment……Right now I am smiling to myself and laughing a little. All of this will come in good time and when it does we will be happy with our decision, but right now we must enjoy our time and continue our journey. 🙂
What can I say about Spitakia Studios and the owner Katerina K other than “here are two of the worlds most divine”. Firstly, you could not ask for a more delightful and relaxed person than Katerina. From the first time I stayed here in 2015 she was a welcoming and a truly warm lady with nothing but good intention. She was incredibly helpful with all things required of a stay in Masouri, Kalymnos and always goes out of her way to make you stay incredible.
Secondly, the apartments are just gorgeous. They are bright and offer the true Greek experience without going overboard. Whitewashed walls and wood compliment the soft furnishings that subtly flavour the room and warm the sometimes starkness of pure white. I am not sure if most people who come to this tiny island in the Aegean to climb consider any of this, but I do. It’s the inner interior designer in me.
In a place where you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to reasonably priced accommodation, for me it comes down to these simple things that make the decision making process a lot less time consuming. These little things make all the difference when you are settling into an area or town for the long or short term.
The view from the top floor across to Telendos Island is fabulous and the sunsets are truly amazing. If you do decide to venture here on a climbing holiday, spoil yourself a little and stay with Katerina at Spitakia Studios. Enjoy the comfort of a home away from home. All the creature comforts, plus a truly “good human” to show you the way.
This is the fourth time I have stayed here in eighteen months and I will return again and again. From the day I stepped foot in the door it felt like home and that makes a huge difference!
I could ramble on for hours about how much I love this place, but there is no point. I have said it all already, so plan your trip and get it booked in advance. You will not regret it at all.
I have been climbing for approximately ten years now and although I am not as experienced as some who may end up reading this article, I am somewhat thoughtful about this outdoor activity that I love and have a passionate attachment to. It’s taken me to some amazing places in the world and I have meet some of my closest and trusted friends through it……And had great discussion with some of the most experienced and best climbers on the planet.
I am on a trip in Kalymnos with my lovely partner and we decided to explore a few of the lesser frequented crags during this particular week. Longer walk-in’s, lesser known routes, less people and new areas are always appealing and remove some of the “been there done that” feelings we have after a few trips to a place. Which, is a nice segue-way into the subject at hand?
I have always been of the opinion that not everything needs to be bolted, just because its rock. Some rock doesn’t need to be bolted because in can be naturally protected using nuts and cams and other sundry specific items one can carry, some rock is bolted because there is an aesthetic line that cannot be naturally protected but is still climbable and the route setter see’s a clear and beautiful path, so places bolts to secure a reasonable safe passage.
However, some things are just not worth wasting the time on, nor spending the money on equipping, nor are they worth climbing anyway’s. Yesterday we experienced this in all its profound and hideous glory. We did seven routes in a sector and I have to say three of them were fantastic! The other four were a waste of bolts. They should never have been bothered with and they were dangerous.
Loose rock, horrendously sharp and unforgiving blood letting stone does not make for good climbing for most people. For the average sports climbers who come here to enjoy the sun, sea and stone this is the case.
Please remember this is only my opinion and there will be many who disagree, some even offended (it’s your choice to be offended by the way). I simply don’t think some route setters actually consider if some cliffs are worthy of the time and effort. If routes are going to be put up, be sure they are good, well equipped, well cleaned and safe.
Thanks for listening………….if you finished the article
Walking down the main street of Masouri in Kalymnos, I have just finished my second swim in the Aegean for this trip. It is not quite summer yet but this Sunday the temps have soared and the sun is gleaning its ever lovin’ light on me. I reminisce about eighteen months back, when I first set foot on the shores of this arid and beautiful island for my first climbing trip.
Today, the beach is buzzing with locals and holiday makers alike and there are very few climbers laying in the sun as it appears my rest days are not synchronised with the others. This I think to myself is indeed a bonus. The water is crisp and clean and there is no doubt you know when you’re in it. All of a sudden you feel bristling with life and the slight chill numbs any sign of fatigue from the previous days events.
Getting a little time to go swimming makes a very big difference in my day right now as I am tired and need to give my muscles the best chance of recovering. Once I read about the benefits of ice baths and how they sped up muscle recovery. I then recall the first time I took a cold shower after martial arts training. I had taken a beating and felt sore and bruised. Today I felt the same way and needed the cold water of the Aegean on my body.
I do love this place and find my time here is spent only in the best of company and in a relaxed state of mind. This is my fourth trip here in eighteen months and this trip just feels a little different from the first. I am not as fit as I was then, as I have had about a month off with a nerve pinch in my neck. A little physiotherapy, some acupuncture and a regular stretching routine seems to have alleviated the nerve impingement rather quickly.
How tough is your life when the biggest decisions you make in a day are where to go climbing and what you want to cook for your darling tonight. I know I have it good and I am writing about this because I am truly grateful. Todays rest day was a little unexpected but after three weeks we decided to just chill out and have some us time. We are both fit again and feeling not too bad at all.
We have had a spate of friends here that we were extremely happy to see and spend time with. We also have met some lovely new people and enjoyed their company immensely. I am remiss to say that we have only recently had a few late night as we have been collapsing early and waking early. It’s terrible! Where has my party attitude gone? It’s a little weird as I am a bit of a night owl, but the days take it out of me a little more now. The heat has kicked in and shade is a rare commodity throughout the day.
Dinners out at our regular haunts have been sensational and the climbing is world class but as I said this trip feels a little different. I think I have placed to many expectations upon myself to be perfectly honest. I haven’t been enjoying myself as much and I have only recently admitted this to myself. The frustration is at times difficult to release, so Karine has requested we do a multi pitch route tomorrow to have a bit of fun and just enjoy ourselves………and…….I think thats a fabulous idea.