There is that moment while traveling when you look upon a scene and suddenly comprehend why it’s been described as breathtaking, because literally you’ve sucked in a sharp breath and forgotten to exhale, transfixed by what you see.
One of those moments for me occurred in Nice. My sister and I had planned to spend at least half a day in the city, coming as we did from Paris via the Lunea night train and booked to spend the night at a hotel in Marseille. However, the queue to buy our Nice-Marseille train tickets took us longer than expected; after having breakfast, my sister opted to just stay in the cafe and get some work done.
I decided to take a stroll down the Avenue Jean Medecin, not expecting much, figuring I will just have a look around and go back to my sister when it was nearly time for our onward journey. I dropped by the Cours Saleya and browsed through the shops and stalls of flowers, spices, and dried fruits. It was clearly a bit touristy, but I was a tourist, a first-timer in the South of France, and I was charmed by all the colors, scents, and tastes — the latter presumed, as I bought nothing.
Finally, I emerged through a few buildings into the Promenade des Anglais…and experienced that Moment.
My first glimpse of the Côte d’Azur. I’ve seen the sea countless times before, been to better beaches, but this was just different. Surreal. The impossibly blue sea, the light-colored buildings that lined the coast, the blue-and-white umbrellas dotting the beach, even the pensioners taking a hearty walk in the sun — it all made me feel like I’d been dropped quite suddenly into the middle of a postcard.
I’ve been to Nice one more time since then, and I’ve been to many other beautiful places as well, but that one fleeting moment always stands out in my mind as the moment that literally took my breath away.