I arrived in Nice via train from Marseille on July 13, 2016. I had been in Europe since June 28th. I has been in Amsterdam, Brussels, Bordeaux, Ibiza, and then to Marseille. The day I arrived in Nice, I got off the train station and walked to my hotel. Then I went to a nearby laundry place to wash my clothes. There a group of 3 girls, Swiss students from the German speaking part of Switzerland, helped me figure out the workings of the machines. They communicted on my behalf to the laundromat owner and I was able to successfully do my laundry. The girls left and after finishing my laundry, I went back to my hotel.
While I waited for my laundry and also to get change, I bought a can of Desperados, which is Tequila flavored Beer
My plan was to spend 4 nights in Nice, with one day for exploring Monaco. I planned to spend July 14 and July 15 in Nice, and then July 16 in Monaco. Then on July 17 I had my train to Geneva.
Later that day, I decided to walk to the beach and walk along the Promenade des Anglais. After roaming around for a bit, I decided to have dinner at the Blue Beach restaurant on the beach. I ordered the fish soup (photo below). I also ordered a glass (maybe 2) of Provençal rosé. Check out this article on the New York Times about Provençal rosé. The appetizer was toasted bread pieces accompanied by a black olive spread-Tapenade a Provençal speciality. The appetizer was great, and the fish soup was wonderful! The whole meal was delicious and filling. I highly recommend the Blue Beach restaurant.
By the time I finished dinner, night has fallen and I decided to walk around some more. I checked out Place Masséna and also an Irish bar, which was fairly empty. Then I headed back to my hotel and went to bed.
This was the day of the fateful attacks. I was out and about by noon and went first to the beach. I walked along Boulevard Gambetta to get to the beach. It was a cloudy day and therefore the water was a distinct shade of Turquoise. I checked out Masséna again and this time it was much more vibrant. I didn not visit any Museums or anything. Since I did not get to go to the beach the previous day, I went back to my hotel, got my swimming gear, and headed to the beach around early evening. After surviving walking over the rock pieces on the beach and playing in the frothy and slightly cold Mediterranean water, I decided to go back to my hotel.
A friend of mine had recommended I go to Bistrot Chaud Vin in Nice. So I walked to the restaurant. It was a pleasant 20 minutes walk. I got to the restaurant right after 8 pm. The restaurant was fairly empty and there were a few people at the restaurant. Some of them sounded American too. I ordered a Risotto dish with sausages for dinner. I also ordered 2 glasses of Rosé. The dish was delicious and hearty. The flavors were amazing! Once I was done, I also ordered dessert, which was berries topped with ice cream. Photos of both the main dish and the dessert below. I was done with dinner by 9:30pm. After paying, I walked back to my hotel.
I was not aware of the fact that it was Bastille Day and about the fireworks. If I had known about them, I would have definitely gone to the Promenade. My plan was to head back to the hotel and check out the night life. Once I was back at the hotel, I spent some time researching the night-life options in and around Nice. Once I got an idea about where to go, I changed and got downstairs to the lobby of my hotel, exited, and started walking along Avenue Georges Clemenceau towards the beach.
It was windy and I noticed lots of people walking in the opposite direction and lots of cars going in the opposite direction. I had walked along Avenue Georges Clemenceau before had not seen it that busy. It seemed odd and I thought this was due to the unusually strong winds. There were trash can lids swept up by the wind as well as scraps of paper and plastic. The attacks had already taken place by now but little did I know about that. The hotel internet was terrible, which was an important reason.
My walking route took me through Place Masséna. Once I got to Place Masséna, I noticed all the military presence there. I immediately sensed that something was wrong. So I asked a random guy what is going on. He replied in broken English and mentioned "Daesh" and attack. I knew about "Daesh" being a synonym for ISIS. I was shocked and a bit disturbed. I took out my phone and once I detected a public WiFi network, connected to it. I noticed immediately a WhatsApp message from my sister in the US, asking if I were in my hotel. I replied reassured her that I was fine, and told her I was in my hotel the whole time. This was after 11:30pm. I also got on BBC website and discovered about the attack and the fact that it was Bastille Day. I kept messaging my sister who kept giving me more details. I told her about what I was doing the last few hours. She was obviously relieved to find out that I was OK. Lots of police vehicles and ambulances were going back an forth along Avenue Félix Faure and Avenue de Verdun. I could hear sirens repeatedly. After telling my sister that I am about walk back to my hotel and would lose internet, I started walking back to my hotel.
It felt surreal. I started thinking about how I was at the Promenade just hours before. I told myself before I left the US in late June that I should be prepared for something like this. Anticipating an attack like this and actually being so close to it are two different things. I felt lucky and blessed. Once I got to the hotel, I got back online and there were a flurry of messages from all sorts of channels. A fried of mine on Facebook invoked the safety check and I used Facebook Safey check tool to mark myself safe. Never thought I would have to do that. I responded to everyone who messaged me and reassured everyone that I was fine.
The news about the attack got more grim. The death toll kept rising and I felt uncomfortable. I did not want to go back to sleep. I was thinking about my parents, family, and friends. I kept messaging my sister. My sister asked me if I was going to leave Nice early but that thought never crossed my mind. So I told her I would not be.
Many months later (158 days to be exact), on December 19, 2016, a Christmas market in Berlin witnessed an attack by a truck ramming into a crowd. Twelve people died. The suspect was declared to be Anis Amri and Amri was shot dead in Milan on December 23.
I visited Berlin for a day, all the way back in 2012. I flew in from Frankfurt and flew out to Abu Dhabi. Berlin was my long transit location. Berlin was a very fun city to explore, although I did not spend a night there. Sad to see an attack in Berlin; sad to have an attack ANYWHERE!