Our final day abroad was spent in Nice, our home away from home while staying in France since the beginning of the week. This also marks the end of our travel journal on this year's inaugural March Break Abroad program. On behalf of the administration and staff, it has been a pleasure getting to know each student on the program as we integrated the campuses and became one Blyth Academy.
Our morning began in true fashion with a walking tour of Nice. Izabella and Nathalie met us at the hotel this morning and took us through Old Nice on our way to Chateau Hill for the ultimate photographs from above. While touring through the old quarters, we were introduced to a series of local Mediterranean dishes in local shops, notably the socca which is made exclusively from chickpeas, olive oil, salt, and water. Peter later bought us a dish in the afternoon which was enjoyed by all in our group.
As we entered the old town, we passed by a series of boucheries and boulangeries which are very popular to this day. Many locals continue to come to the small merchants due to the quality control that takes place, but also due to the comradery of knowing who prepares your cheese. Immediately upon our entrance to the old town, we got a first glimpse of the catch of the day from local fishermen, including a rare eel that was caught for display. We then proceeded to a local church with a quick lesson on Baroque architecture and a quick walk through the pews before making our climb.
Once making it to the top, this was the true moment that any of us could have hoped for or imagined. Originally, the viewpoint was the historic medieval founding of Nice due to its lateral location on the hillside. It was dismantled by Louis XIV in the 1700s after conquering the fortress which now left us with a local park and stunning space for photographs and memories. After we took in the fresh sea air and took a moment to catch our breath, students grouped together across campuses to take photos and enjoy their last morning together at the height of Nice.
To say it was a leisurely walk down would be an understatement. On our way to the local flower market, we made one more stop to another viewpoint gazing out across the bay. Students and staff continued to stare off into the horizon while reminiscing on our time abroad.
Nothing beats a tranquil morning spent with friends and the seaside air. Many students often asked when they could go swimming, and despite no matter how many times they were reminded of the cooler temperatures, the consistent response was always: "I am Canadian." With great laughter, students were encouraged to return to the Côte d'Azur during the summer for warmer temperatures, but also for a return to France.
After the viewpoints were reached and our steps were counted, it was time for a gentle stroll through the local flower market on the promenade before walking to Place Messena. Vendors crowded the market with local wares as students weaved through the many tents under the early spring sunshine. Various scents clouded the street from lavender to fine spices and fresh flowers. We continued to make our way down along the beachside promenade before being dismissed from Place Messena for the afternoon for souvenir shopping and late lunches.
Of the countless interactions I've had with students, the one that rings quite memorable from this afternoon was engaging with a few amidst their gaze over the city. When asked about their experience, many were thoughtful of this being our last day together as a group, and though excited to return home, the friendships and memories made will last a lifetime.
It's amazing how two weeks have wrapped up so quickly in this short amount of time. Where many of us are looking forward to next year's experiential excursion, I am reminded of that spark which made this a reality for all of our students - an invitation to adventure.
Until next year,