Happy One Year Anniversary!

Happy 2016 valued readers! I know it's been a little over six months since my last update (yikes), but I just wanted to send a quick shout to everyone on my one year anniversary of my Study Abeard adventure. 

Want to relive some of the awesome moments from the blog from the past year? Start at the beginning with my first post, How to be An Awesome Traveler, here.

I also wanted to let everyone know that I have some (hopefully) big plans for the new year, so be on the lookout for more updates in the future! #TheBeardIsBack

Study Abeard Update

Yes, it's true. I'm back in the U.S. In fact, it's already been a whole week. So, I've decided to take a quick break from sitting on my ass and watching TV to quickly update all of you on the state of Study Abeard.

Basically, I'm here to tell all of you not to worry. Just because I'm back in the States doesn't mean that I'm ending this blog or that I won't be posting anymore. In fact, the opposite is actually true. 

You see, when I was abroad, I didn't actually update the blog as often as I had hoped. Luckily, now I'm home and I have a lot of time on my hands. I mean a lot of time. Seriously, so much. 

That means that I'll have plenty of time to finally sort through all of my awesome photos from the past four months and plenty of time to write a ton of new posts. 

Now, I know there's still one question on your mind, "But Max, the blog is called 'Study Abeard' and you aren't 'abeard' anymore. How's that gonna work?" The answer is simple. Study Abeard is just a title. It's a state of mind and the brand that I've associated with this site.

Just because I'm not abroad anymore doesn't mean that my posts won't relate to traveling, food and everything else the same way they always have. 

The other good news is that if you look around the site, you'll notice some sections are a little, well, "underdeveloped." Yeah, let's go with that. Anyway, I'll also be taking this time to update and launch those other sections of the site to really get things going. So be on the lookout for that.

This isn't the end friends, it's only the beginning. 

Ok, sorry to end things in a cliché like that. Don't hold it against me. Check out my last post from when I was still in Barcelona here.

-Max

Why You Should Actually "Study" When You Study Abroad

In honor of just finishing up finals here in Barcelona (yes I know I'm leaving in a week, no you shouldn't bring it up), I wanted to do a little bit of a reflection post about why actually studying and learning while you're abroad are so important. 

The thing to understand if you decide to come abroad is to not expect to just be partying and living it up the entire time. Sure, it might be "the best semester of your life," but partying and going to the club every night are not the reason why.

The other thing to understand is that when I say "studying" and "learning," when you're abroad this doesn't just take place in the traditional classroom setting. Some of it does, but most of it actually happens on your own.

You control how much you learn and experience the world around you, which is something I want to convey in this post. So, without further ado, here's ten reasons why you should actually "study" when you study abroad.

 

1. You might actually learn a new language

 If Ben Stiller can do it, so can you!

If Ben Stiller can do it, so can you!

Nothing can quite compare to studying a foreign language in a foreign country that actually speaks that language. You can take as many Spanish classes in college as you want, but unless you go out and actually practice the language every day, you'll never fully understand it or be fluent in it.

When you study abroad (in a foreign language-speaking country), you have the opportunity to go out and practice a new language every day for a semester or longer. You also have the opportunity to take classes in that language. Even if you're in the lowest level speaking course, chances are that most of the class will be taught in that language. You can't get that kind of immersion anywhere else, so take advantage of it. 

 

2. You'll learn about the country you're staying in

  Photo courtesy of viajerosmadeinspain.com.

Photo courtesy of viajerosmadeinspain.com.

News flash, you're living in a foreign country for at least a few months. That country is different from your home country in about a trillion ways. A lot of the classes offered on study abroad programs are art, history, architecture or other subjects relating to that country. 

Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of learning about the country you're living in? Seems like a no brainer to me. Even if you don't like some of those subjects traditionally, give them a shot. You might find that you actually like them because of the way the class is taught (which is often the case in foreign countries) or because you get to see the subject up close every day when you walk around your city and can see what you're learning all around you.

Making those connections from what you learn in the classroom to the world around you is the best way to take more than a new drinking game away from your study abroad experience.

 

3. YOUR GRADES MIGHT ACTUALLY COUNT

  Gif courtesy of giphy.com.

Gif courtesy of giphy.com.

Might be a wake-up call to some people, but depending on the program you're on while you're abroad, those classes that you didn't ever go to might actually count toward your GPA back home. Pretty simple if you ask me. 

If you don't go to class, don't do any of your work and generally have an attitude of "I don't care, f– it," you might find that your GPA has taken a major hit when you get back. The bigger problem with that is that there's no one else you can blame beside yourself. So, suck it up, go to class regularly and you'll do just fine.


4. You'll meet new people

  Yeah, two Will Ferrell gifs back to back. So what? He's a funny dude. Gif courtesy of edgaralanfrog.tumblr.com.

Yeah, two Will Ferrell gifs back to back. So what? He's a funny dude. Gif courtesy of edgaralanfrog.tumblr.com.

One of the best parts about going abroad is that you're constantly meeting new people, almost every single day. They could be other people on your program, from your own school or different people from all over the world and that's pretty cool. You aren't going to meet all of those new people if you're holed in your apartment all day or hanging out/going out with the same people all the time. 

In actuality, a great place to meet a bunch of new people is in your classes. Hard to believe, I know, but if you go to class and make an effort to talk to different people each time, you'll end up making a bunch of new friends. 

 

5. traveling is learning, too

  Photo courtesy of uproxx.com

Photo courtesy of uproxx.com

It might not be the most traditional way to learn, but trust me that when you're taking one of your weekend trips somewhere, you're immersing yourself into a whole other culture. Even if you don't experience every museum or cultural activity a city or country has to offer, you still pick up on cultural cues and differences without even realizing it.

Then, your brain does this amazing thing where it actually compares and contrasts those cultural differences and cues with other ones you've experienced in your travels and with the ones from your home country. So, even if you decide to blow off a class to catch a flight you booked (sometimes while sitting in that same class), you're actually still studying another culture and constantly learning.

6. EMPLOYERS LIKE IT

  Gif courtesy of pinterest.com.

Gif courtesy of pinterest.com.

Believe it or not, a ton of employers place great value on potential employees who have studied abroad and actually have something to show for it. It's one thing to put on your resume that you studied abroad in Spain for four months, but it's another thing entirely to be able to articulate and explain your experience.

It gives you more anecdotes for interviews. You can explain how living in a foreign country actually helped you learn independence, how to overcome various obstacles, how to break out of your shell and how all the things you learned make you the best candidate for the job. 

If you can relate your experiences abroad to prospective employers in an effective way, they'll think really highly of you and your application.

 

7. you'll be more organized

  Ok, maybe not. Gif courtesy of Reddit.

Ok, maybe not. Gif courtesy of Reddit.

Even if you think classes aren't as difficult when you're studying abroad*, you're actually juggling a bunch of different things at once. You have to go to class and make sure you keep up with your work, but you also want to hang out with friends, explore your host city and country and travel as much as you can. It's a demanding schedule that really requires you to budget your time effectively.  

Also, all that traveling helps you to figure out important life skills along the way such as how to actually pack for a weekend away without your mom's help and how to budget your time when you're taking a trip somewhere and want to see all the sights but only have a certain amount of time.

Again, not learning that occurs in the classroom, but still important.

*Important side note: This is absolutely not the case. If you're studying abroad just to take easy classes, you're going to find yourself out of luck. Just like any other school, there are some classes that are easier than others, but there are still plenty of challenging classes that you might find yourself in.

 

8. you'll understand the value of time

  No time for BS here. Gif courtesy of giphy.com.

No time for BS here. Gif courtesy of giphy.com.

Going along with the organization and time management I just talked about (see number five right above if you already forgot), studying abroad helps you make the most of the time you have. A lot of classes abroad have hours that you may not be used to. For example, I had classes twice a week at the ungodly hour of 9am. I also had a four-hour Spanish class twice a week.

These might not be things that you're used to at your home college or university, but they do exist abroad. But, you learn to live with them. You actually might come to find that you like getting your day started earlier because it helps you be more productive the rest of the day. Or you might learn not to drink as much the night before you have a four-hour Spanish class. Things I couldn't seem to get a hang of, but you might!

As I touched on in the organization point also, you'll learn how to plan trips. So, you've only got 72 hours in Rome? No problem. Besides reading my weekend guide to Rome, you'll learn to plan the trip hour-by-hour just so you can see everything. That's an important skill to have that you can only learn if you travel a lot when you go abroad.

 

9. you'll understand the value of a dollar, euro or whatever

  Gif courtesy of inc42.com.

Gif courtesy of inc42.com.

One thing that becomes extremely apparent very early when you're studying abroad is that you're spending a butt-ton of money. If you haven't learned to budget your money in college, you sure as hell better learn when you study abroad.

Studying abroad also gives you familiarity with the values of other currencies and their relations to each other. You'll find yourself looking at exchange rates and analyzing economies more than you usually do just because you want to know the best time to go to the ATM so that you have enough money to eat, travel, shop, buy alcohol and go out at night.

Of course it helps when your parents are helping to finance your study abroad experience, but you should still work out a system with them, beginning before you go. You should talk about and agree on a weekly/monthly budget and you should do your best to stick to that budget. If you do, minus a splurge here and there, you'll be fine.

Again though, this is an experience that occurs outside of the classroom and often without you even realizing it's happening. However, it ends up being another extremely important life skill that you can learn really easily by studying abroad and paying attention.

And, most importantly...

10. you'll learn about yourself

  And he's 3/3 on the Will Ferrell gifs. Nailed it. Gif courtesy of confessions-of-a-barbie.tumblr.com. (Also, no, I did not actually visit that tumblr page.)

And he's 3/3 on the Will Ferrell gifs. Nailed it. Gif courtesy of confessions-of-a-barbie.tumblr.com. (Also, no, I did not actually visit that tumblr page.)

That's right, time to get #deep. When you study abroad, you're placing yourself into a situation that you've most likely never found yourself in before. You're living in a foreign country, you might not know anyone, there could be a language barrier and there will be a bunch of problems and obstacles along the way that you never thought you would have to face.

It forces you to do a lot of growing up and finding yourself in a very short period of time. By the end though, you'll emerge a completely different person than when you started. Not in a bad way, you're just more mature because you've faced all of these new challenges. Sure, they might have seemed scary or daunting at the time, but now little things like doing your own laundry don't even phase you. 

I guarantee you will end up meeting some incredible people along the way and some of those people are right by your side, experiencing all these new things with you. That means you'll almost never have to face things alone.

You'll look back on your study abroad experience as some of the best times of your life, and that's because you took the time to study, learn and to get to know yourself and the amazing world in which we get to live each and every day. 

 

 

Holy Shit Your Parents are Coming to Visit You Abroad

Alright, calm down everyone. Everything is going to be fine. I'm taking a break from my weekend guides (Paddy's in Dublin and a weekend in Amsterdam to come, so look out) to help prep you all for something extremely important.

You've been "studying" abroad for like three months now, right? I put studying in quotes because come on, who are you kidding? But, you've had one important weekend or, in some cases, week circled on your calendar for a while now.

And that's not because you circled it yourself, but actually because your mom bought you a calendar, circled the date she's coming to visit you and then packed you said calendar before you left to go abroad.

Anyway, you've had that date circled and now that calendar is who knows where in your room. You've been living it up, not really paying too much attention as the dates roll by. Then, one day, you decide to clean your desk in your room/move some stuff around as you search for enough euro coins to buy yourself a meal. That's when you find that calendar. And, surprise surprise, your parents are coming this weekend.

Now, it's not that you don't love your parents and siblings or that you don't miss them. It's just that for the past three months, your brain has mostly been focused on food, alcohol and not being too hungover to catch your next flight.

But as I said, not to worry because your pal Max is here to set you straight. In honor of my family coming to visit me in Barcelona for my Spring Break (starting this weekend), here's five things you can do to prepare for your parents/family coming to visit you abroad.

1. Clean your damn room/apartment

We all know you've been living in absolute filth, but there's no reason your parents need to know that. And, while you might be able to wiggle your way out of it, the odds that your parents end up having to come to your place at some point during their visit are extremely high. 

So, pop on some tunes and get to that large load of laundry that's been piling up and slowly taking over your room one inch at a time. Also, it's time to throw out your alcohol bottle collection. You and your apartment-mates might think it looks cool, but your parents will probably be less impressed. Also, it's really not that cool. Hate to break it to you.

Focus on big areas like cleaning off your desk, making sure the floor is relatively clean and making your bed. It doesn't have to be perfect or spotless, but a little effort goes a long way. After your room is clean, head over to the kitchen where it's finally time to start tackling that stack of dirty dishes. Enlist the help of your apartment-mates for this one because there's no way all those dishes are yours, right? Ok, maybe they are. Moving on.

 

2. call the shots

Your family is coming to visit you halfway around the world (or all the way you crazy Aussie study abroad kids). They want to see the city as you see it, you have been living there for the past three months, so hopefully you've got a whole list of stuff to show them.

Take them to the touristy stuff, but also show them around your neighborhood and take them to some cool local spots that you like to go to. This will give them a better flavor of your study abroad experience. Trust me, they'll appreciate it.

Don't make your family do all the research, help them out by taking on some of or all of the planning. Remember, they're new in town and you've been around the block a few times. You're the expert and they're going to turn to you for recommendations, so be prepared.

Also, don't freak out about making everything perfect. While it is a vacation for your loved ones, they're still here primarily to see you, don't lose sight of that. They'll be happy pretty much anywhere you take them.

Going along with this...

 

3. pick the food

This gets its own section because it's (obviously) my personal favorite part. The simple fact is that while you've been dining in style while you've been abroad, the likelihood that you've eaten anywhere really nice or expensive is pretty low. This is your shot to live it up! You're a poor study abroad student and your parents have the moolah.

It's your chance to take them to that nice restaurant you've wanted to go to this whole time. It's also your chance to show them the local cuisine in your host country/city. They want to eat something different. While some of your favorite joints might serve burgers or pizza or other cheap eats, your family doesn't want to eat something they can get anywhere.

Take them somewhere unique where you can enjoy a nice, authentic meal together. Also, don't forget that nice restaurants take reservations, so if there's some place really special you want to take your family, make sure you call or book online in advance.

And while I made a joke earlier about your parents having all the money, I know this isn't the case for everyone. There are still plenty of nice places you can take your family without breaking the bank, you just have to do your research and find somewhere that works with your family's budget.

My advice: In Barcelona, take your parents to Tickets, widely regarded as one of, if not the best tapas restaurant in Barcelona. Unfortunately I don't think I will have the chance to dine here because they are closed for the Easter holiday when my family is here, but that doesn't mean I can't live vicariously through you. Book at least a month in advance for this restaurant on their website.

 

4. shower them with gifts

 Yes, I know I put two Spongebob references back to back. Yeah, I've got a problem and you don't?

Yes, I know I put two Spongebob references back to back. Yeah, I've got a problem and you don't?

You're a sophisticated (haha) world traveler now, so hopefully you've found the opportunity to stop and buy some gifts for your family along the way. Most likely your parents are funding or at least partially funding your adventure abroad, so it's nice to return the favor by showing them you care. Even if you bought that special something with their money. But that's beside the point.


5. enjoy your time with them

Sure, your family can annoy you sometimes, but that's part of the deal. You still love them and they still love you. They made the trip to come see you, and that isn't the case for everyone who studies abroad. So that's pretty special.

They might get on your nerves, but even though we might not always admit it, we still miss them from time to time.

Damn, this post got sentimental as hell.

 I'll try Snape, I'll try.

I'll try Snape, I'll try.

When it Rains, It Pours: Your Weekend Guide to Nice, France

Alright everyone, I'm back. And I'm better than ever.

Now, I'm not gonna start every new post with a "sorry I haven't written in a while" apology. John Lennon famously said, "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans." Unfortunately for you all, my loyal readers, he was right.

I would like to edit his quote a little bit though and change it to: "Life is what happens to you when Netflix decides to release the third season of House of Cards on Netflix and you're holed-up in your apartment watching the whole thing."

I love television almost as much as I love food and traveling. I watch more television shows than just about everyone I know. I even amaze myself sometimes with the amount of shows I'm able to crank out.

So, it will probably disgust you to know that I finished the new third season of House of Cards in just two days. Yes, I know there are 13 episodes. Yes, I know that equals 13 hours of staring at my computer screen. Yes, I know that staring at a computer screen for that long can cause damage to your eyesight. And, yes, I'm an appalling human being. But, I really hope your reaction is something more like this: 

Don't worry though, I'm not giving away any spoilers here. The only thing I will say is that I think this was my least favorite season of House of Cards so far. It's still one of my favorite shows, but I saw this season as much different than the two before it and not as exciting in my opinion.

But anyway, on to the main event. I traveled to Nice, France on Valentine's Day weekend and I loved my time there. I do want to point out though that you all should be profusely thanking me. When the city is called "Nice," pronounced like "niece" but spelled like "nice," you can only imagine how many puns came to my mind. I spared all of you and decided to put the puns away for this one and title this post something a bit more relevant.

You see, for every single weekend trip I have been on so far this semester, it has rained. I'm not sure if it's just my luck or the combination of the luck of all the goons I hang out with combined with mine, but it has been horrible. Luckily, it hasn't ruined our time in any of the cities we've seen, but it has played a major factor.

We monitored the weather in Nice almost every day after we booked our trip, and the forecast just got worse and worse. It went from being beautiful, sunny and in the 60s, to raining one day of our weekend, to eventually pouring the entire weekend. It just got gloomier and gloomier.

My advice: If you want to visit the south of France, with it's beautiful beaches and lavish lifestyle, save it for the summer and don't go in February. Really, don't do it. My friends and I were practical though, we weren't just going to Nice to party and go to the beach, we knew better than that.

No, we wanted to party, go the Montecarlo Casino in Monaco and check out Nice's Carnival (kind of like Mardi Gras in the States). However, as the weather deteriorated, so did our chances of going to the Carnival. One by one, things got canceled, including the main night parade that we wanted to go to.

They still had the whole area set up, though so we swung by. There was a dope ferris wheel, and some drum lines playing music, we made the most of it and still ended up having an awesome time. 

But, as always, here's everything you need to know if you want to hit up Nice, France any time in the near future.

what to see

 

Monaco/montecarlo

 The Casino Monte-Carlo from the outside. Dope, right? At least the weather cooperated long enough for me to snap this.  Photo by Max Siskind.

The Casino Monte-Carlo from the outside. Dope, right? At least the weather cooperated long enough for me to snap this. Photo by Max Siskind.

I'm just getting this out of the way first. Yes, I know that neither of these are actually located in Nice. But, I promise Nice is a great place to headquarter yourself and serves as an awesome jumping off point to the rest of the French Riviera. 

I'm no billionaire, I don't have a fancy car and I'm terrible at gambling. I used to play poker with my friends in high school, and let's just say that I had to prematurely retire when I never won a single game or dollar. Ok, maybe they stopped inviting me because I sucked, but I digress. 

However, I do like pretending that I'm a billionaire, have a fancy car and that I'm the best gambler Montecarlo has ever seen. Fake it till you make it right? So, I bought a blazer. Then I had to buy some pants at the airport because I forgot mine. Then I had to buy a shirt because I forgot that also. Oh, and a new belt too. All of those purchases really cut into my gambling money by the way.

Anyway, it's really easy to get to Monaco from Nice if you take a bus from the port area/yacht central station in Nice. The downside is that the bus takes about 45 minutes to an hour, but if I remember correctly it only costs about 1.50 euros each way.

This day trip is definitely worth doing in my opinion because you get to dress up nice and act like you're James Bond for the day, you get to check out one of the nicest casinos in the world (which only costs 10 euros to enter by the way, worth it in my book) and you get to pretend like you own some of the nicest cars I've ever seen. Check out my new Facebook profile picture with my new rolls:

 Who's that handsome guy? Oh right, it's me.  Photo by Alec Sard  (one of my apartment-mates, thanks Alec!)

Who's that handsome guy? Oh right, it's me. Photo by Alec Sard (one of my apartment-mates, thanks Alec!)

Just remember, that when the rain starts pouring down immediately when you leave the casino, book it back to the bus stop before all of your new, nice clothes get ruined.

Also, you're technically not allowed to take any photos inside the casino. However, that didn't really stop me.

 I took a few others, but this was the best photo I was able to snap of the interior of the casino.  Photo by Max Siskind.

I took a few others, but this was the best photo I was able to snap of the interior of the casino. Photo by Max Siskind.

All in all, my day in Monaco ended up turning out really well. I can forever say that I won 1 euro at the Casino Monte-Carlo. One bet you can make is that I will never gamble there for the rest of my life just so that last sentence can remain a fact. That is, of course, if I end up having a ridiculous disposable income in the future where I can afford to be a regular there. Everyone can dream, right?

My advice:

  • Use the bus and don't leave too late because you want to be able to walk around and really make a whole day of Monaco, especially if its nice out. We only really had time to see the casino because of when we left and because of the rain.
  • Walk around and see parts of the track for the Monaco Grand Prix, that's also pretty cool.
  • If you're the gambling-type (and have better luck than me), budget around 50 euros to spend (remember there's a 10 euro entry fee). If you can't afford 50, not a problem, try your luck at some of the slots or other smaller games that don't cost as much. You won't spend/lose as much and you still get to say you gambled in the casino. And, by all means, if you want to spend more at the casino I'm not going to judge you.
  • DO NOT SPEND MONEY ON ANYTHING ELSE IN MONACO. No food, no drinks, no clothes, no souvenirs. Sorry boys and girls, but I'm telling you, you can't swing it. Eat before you leave and when you get back.

 

The chateu (Lou casteu)

 The view from the top. Here you can see everything from the coastline to the ferris wheel of the Carnival.  Photo by Max Siskind.

The view from the top. Here you can see everything from the coastline to the ferris wheel of the Carnival. Photo by Max Siskind.

They're aren't too many huge, historic sites in Nice, but when I visit a city, I really enjoy getting the full view of it from one of the highest points. I just think it really puts things in perspective. 

In Nice, the best spot to do this is at the Chateu. Once the spot of the main castle in Nice, it's basically just a park with a small waterfall now, but it still gives you a great view of the city and the coastline. Just take the ramp all the way up to the top and you're good.

My advice:

  • Again, keep an eye on the weather. If it's pouring, be careful on the ramp up (and down), it can get a little slippery. The rain can also partially ruin your view. Also, don't get to close to the waterfall if it's already pouring outside.
  • The waterfall is a little underwhelming, but it can still be cool. Definitely worth checking out, especially because it's on the way up to the top anyway.
  • The views from the top are still incredible, even if the weather isn't cooperating. Plus, if the weather is crappy, there's a little stand with gifts and postcards that can help you imagine what the view looks like during the summer time.

 

Downtown/Old Town/port area

 The view of some of Old Town Nice on the walk up to the Chateau.  Photo by Max Siskind.

The view of some of Old Town Nice on the walk up to the Chateau. Photo by Max Siskind.

Like I said before, not too much else to see in Nice in my opinion, unless you're there for Carnival or to check out the beach. But, the small downtown area, especially the Old Town area, is really cool.

Also, the port is cool because you get to check out all the dope yachts that are parked there. Then you can imagine yourself as the next Wolf of Wall Street. Minus all the drugs, alcohol and eaten pet goldfish. Or, you know, not. Your call.

 Just shopping around. I'll take the big one please.  Photo by Max Siskind.

Just shopping around. I'll take the big one please. Photo by Max Siskind.

Old Town is, obviously, the older part of Nice with some old school architecture and smaller streets and pathways. This area is where you'll find the best restaurants, bars and shops.

My advice:

  • Walk around, take it all in. Maybe stop off at a small stand and get a crepe. 
  • Old Town at night is where all the restaurants and bars are, so definitely check it out.
  • The port is cool if you want to take pictures in front of (or on) yachts.

 

carnival

 The area where the parade was supposed to be... Photo by Max Siskind.

The area where the parade was supposed to be...Photo by Max Siskind.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, we were in town for the Nice Carnival. Like Mardi Gras, there's a big parade, people in crazy costumes, beads and all that good stuff. But not for us. While some Carnival events were able to take place during the day, the main night carnival with a big light show was canceled while we were in Nice.

This was a big blow to our trip, but as I briefly went into earlier, we still checked out the carnival area, went on the ferris wheel and danced around and did conga lines to a drum team that was playing. Still a blast if you ask me.

Unfortunately, my computer is telling me that the videos I have of the drummers and stuff are too long/the files are too big. So, I'll just have to leave them out. Use your imagination. It was fun.

My advice:

  • Check the weather before you go. Really, I mean it.
  • If you're going for the Carnival, make sure you see all of the parades. There's the day ("Flower") parade and the night ("Light") parade. Catch them both if you can.
  • I wouldn't say costumes are completely necessary. Up to you though, depends how festive you want to get.
  • I thought the ferris wheel was a bit overpriced, but it was the only thing open, so it was worth doing in that case and you still get some nice views of the city.

 

Getting around

 The Nice tram in all of its glory.  Photo by Max Siskind.

The Nice tram in all of its glory. Photo by Max Siskind.

Nice is a pretty small city (would we call it a city? Or is it more of a large town? Probably a debate for another post), but they actually have a pretty cool tram system. I again lucked out and ended up scheming to not pay, but be aware that they do have security guards that will hop on at random stops and check tickets. Just make sure you hop off before them, or you could not be delinquent and actually buy a ride for like 1.50 euros.

Anyway, the tram in Nice was only really handy in our case because of the location of our Airbnb and because of the weather. The tram basically goes straight down the main road in Nice, making it really easy to hop on and hop off where you need to. 

My advice:

  • If your hostel, Airbnb, hotel or wherever you're staying (in a ditch perhaps?) is located more centrally, you probably won't need the tram. But good to know about anyway.

 

what to eat

Ah, my favorite part of any trip. The food. I didn't get too adventurous in Nice, but that's only because I'll be returning to France in a few weeks with my family and I'm saving my adventurous eating for then when I (my parents) can afford to fund my eating escapades. However, I do have a few recommendations and tips.

Also, one advantage to having an Airbnb with a full kitchen is that you can go to the grocery store and actually cook some meals for yourself. My friends and I took this opportunity to make a big "family-style" dinner and a big pre-game breakfast for Monaco.

Also beware, restaurants close relatively early in Nice. Especially during the week. If you want to go out to eat dinner, go at around 6 or 7, not 8 or 9.

 

pastries and coffee

 Ok, so the pastry place we went to was mostly dessert-based. But what's wrong with that? Also, those colorful things? Those are macarons. try one, you won't go wrong.  Photo by Max Siskind.

Ok, so the pastry place we went to was mostly dessert-based. But what's wrong with that? Also, those colorful things? Those are macarons. try one, you won't go wrong. Photo by Max Siskind.

I've often discussed the European pastry game, which I think is top notch. France however, has a leg up on the competition in my book though because of one simple item. The croissant. It simply can't be beat guys. It's my favorite pastry of all time. 

 Come on, just look at that croissant! What could be better. Also, that's hot chocolate, not coffee. Sorry coffee-lovers.  Photo by Max Siskind.

Come on, just look at that croissant! What could be better. Also, that's hot chocolate, not coffee. Sorry coffee-lovers. Photo by Max Siskind.

France also has crepes on every corner. Not to mention some of the best coffee in the world because of the French Press technique. Honestly, I don't hate many things, especially in the food and drink department. But, I can tell you that I am definitely not a coffee drinker. I've just never liked the taste.

I've been trying though. I continue to give coffee a chance because I'm in Europe and they drink the stuff like water over here. It's also a much healthier alternative to guzzling red bull or other energy drinks when you need that morning pick-me-up after a night out.

So, if you like coffee and pastries, Nice is no exception to the France Rule (eat and drink as much of both as you like). I look forward to expanding my pastry knowledge and appetite in a few weeks when I'm back.

My advice:

  • When it comes to pastries, you really can't go wrong. I say if you see something in a bakery window that looks good, don't hesitate to give it a try. If you don't like it, chances are you didn't end up spending too much money on it, so it isn't the end of the world.
  • You're asking the wrong guy if you want coffee advice. I don't think you can go wrong at most decent-looking restaurants or cafés in France if you ask for a coffee, but I could be completely dead wrong.

 

brunch

 Good brunch spot in Nice with an even better location. Sit outside if you can.  Photo by Max Siskind.

Good brunch spot in Nice with an even better location. Sit outside if you can. Photo by Max Siskind.

Remember, your weekend in Nice is about living it up and balling out. Never lose sight of that. Going to brunch fits right in with that lifestyle. It's also the best meal ever because two meals are better than one.

Nice also has a bunch of great brunch spots in some of the best areas of town. I used this site to find the best brunch spots and we settled on the very first one on that list, Le Coin Quotidien. The restaurant was located in a great part of town, near the main market. It's great for people watching and, if the weather was nicer, sitting outside.

You also can't beat the prices here. For 19.50 euros (a price that hasn't changed at this restaurant since 2002, they claim), you get: a croissant, scrambled eggs, ham, salmon, cheese, a salad and two drinks. Plenty of food for one person I thought.

 A brunch fit for a king.  Photo by Max Siskind.

A brunch fit for a king. Photo by Max Siskind.

My advice:

  • Choose any of the brunch spots on that link that I used, and I don't think you'll go wrong because they all looked really good.
  • Beware that these places do get crowded, so be time conscious when you go. You might have to be open to waiting a little while to get a table.

 

going out

As I said before, Nice isn't exactly a huge metropolitan capital. There is a nice little bar scene though, and we were lucky enough to run into some other Maryland kids studying in Nice who gave us the low-down.

Like I pointed out in the "What to See" section, Old Town is where your bars and restaurants are all located. So when night falls, it's time to hit up that area. Beware that this is not party until all hours of the night like Barcelona though, most places close at around 2, so plan accordingly. 

We went to Wayne's Bar, which is essentially Nice's version of RJ Bentley's (shout out to my CP peeps). Classic college-type atmosphere and when you head to the back of the bar you can even see a bunch of young French people dancing on picnic tables to Cotton-Eyed Joe. 

 Sorry for the poor quality of this photo, but I was inside a dark, crowded bar. What more do you want from me?  Photo by Max Siskind.

Sorry for the poor quality of this photo, but I was inside a dark, crowded bar. What more do you want from me? Photo by Max Siskind.

The only downside to Wayne's is that the drinks are kind of on the expensive side. Other than that, we did venture to an Irish pub that had some cheap drinks and live music, to a salsa bar with cheap margaritas near the Carnival and to some other smaller bars around Old Town. 

My advice:

  • If you walk around Old Town long enough, you'll find a few bars worth going into.
  • Beware of the drink prices at some places, they may be charging you too much. Don't buy drinks just to buy drinks.

 

conclusion

I had a great time in Nice and even though the weather was crappy, my friends and I banded together to make the best of it. And even though we can't all be Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago, we can sure as hell try.

Also, unlike other guides, I actually got all of my best photos into this, so no need for an extra slideshow. If you do want to see more photos or want anymore info on Nice, make sure to check out the Contact tab at the top of the site and send me a shout!