Thursday, April 18, 2013

Marseille in a Day

                          Marseille-St. Charles Train Station

Ye sons of France awake to glory,
Hark! Hark! What myriads bid you rise!
Your children, wives and white-haired grandsires
Behold their tears and hear their cries!
~ The Marseillaise, French National Anthem (trad)*

We made it to Marseille today. (See what happens when I don't say we're going somewhere?  We actually make it.)

Truth be told, we didn't plan on going there at all. I got up late, and we decided that we'd have breakfast (at 11 am, mind you) and head to Arles for a few hours since it is relatively close.  We had just missed a train to Arles when we arrived at the station, and the next one wasn't for another hour or so.

"I don't want to wait that long," I said.

"We can go somewhere else and come back in a bit," Mike replied.  I think he really wanted to get out of Avignon.  "Or, we can go somewhere else.  Where do you want to go?" 

The train for Marseille was leaving in 15 minutes, so I picked it.  Five minutes and 15 euro each later, we were on our way with a handful of other people on a pretty long train.  The ride went relatively smoothly, and 80 minutes later, we were standing at the top of the steps leading from (or to, depending on which way you're going) the Marseille-St. Charles station.

(As a side note, I bet you pronounced that Saint Charles as we would in the States, didn't you?  HA! You have to slur it.... san schjarl.... and barely say that "L."   I digress....)

                     Marseille from Notre Dame du Gard

"What should we do now?" Mike asked me.  Heck if I knew. I hadn't planned on traveling to Marseille, so I had no idea of where we were much less how to get anywhere else.

"I don't know.  Let's walk and find a map."  Yes. Yes.  I suggested walking.  I'm still sick, don't forget. I think the cold has gotten to my brain.

So we walked..... and walked......and walked......

"This isn't quite what I expected," I said at some point.

"What did you expect?" Mike asked me.

"I don't know, but it wasn't this."  Actually, I think I do know what I was expecting.  I think I was expecting to walk out of the train station right onto a sandy beach.  We were in the middle of a bustling city.... a HUGE bustling city, and I saw neither sand nor sea from where we were standing. "This reminds me of Paris," I continued.

"With better weather," Mike added.

                        The old port area in Marseille

Eventually we found a map and walked to the old port area where the open-top tour buses run. I won't bore you with specifics, but if you know anything about those open-top buses, you know that they run continuously so you can hop-on and hop-off at will.  Not in Marseille.  They have two companies that run those tours, and they are very limiting.  One runs only twice a day, and the other does four rounds.  Lucky for us, we made it for the last round (no hop-on or -off on this one) and got to see a bit of the city.

We got off of the bus a stop early so we could walk....and walk.... and walk back to the train station for our 6:50 train back to Avignon.  Luckily, we climbed all those steps (127 of them), arrived on the platform at 6:05, and saw that there was a train leaving at 6:10.  Even luckier, our ticket allowed us to take any train back to Avignon, so we crowded on with a bunch of others and headed north.

"I didn't see anything of any town that excited me when we went by," Mike said as we walked back to the flat tonight.

"Yep," I agreed.  "Arles is off my radar for now."

"Is there any other place you want to see before we leave Avignon?"

I'll have to get back to him on that.

** Did you know/remember that the Beatles used the music from The Marseillaise at the beginning of All You Need is Love?

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