Yes, all along I have thought it was Mar-sigh. And evidently so did most people, if the response this summer to the Bachelorette coming here was any indication. The blogs and sites I read were surprised that Andi and the guys kept referring to it as Mar-say. So hey, who says the Bachelor/ette isn’t educational?
Sorry it’s been a few days. The hotel here in Marseille only has wifi in the lobby. Which blows. It’s a nice-ish hotel, so I was surprised. But hey, I have an Ethernet cord in my room…so you know, 2002 and all. My room also has a BATHTUB! I am sleeping on a sofa bed (but it’s actually not uncomfortable…I’ve slept on worse on this trip), but still, bathtub! I have used the tub the past two nights and will likely use it tonight! Don’t know when I will come across another!
But to backup…on Wednesday I got up and checked out of the hostel in Barcelona, but didn’t need to leave town until after 5. So I planned to go see the beach and take the funicular up the hill to see Olympic Stadium. I made my way to the beach and it was amazing. I have officially been in the Mediterranean Sea now! But I realized what an incredible beach day it would’ve been. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before, but I am bummed that I didn’t make one of my Barcelona days a beach day. Ah, well. I did stay on the beach and read for an hour and a half. It was marvelous.
Then I walked over to where the funicular was and saw that there was a 45-60 min wait. It was 1pm and I needed to be back to the hostel and grab my things by 4:15. And eat lunch. So I didn’t chance it. Maybe it would’ve worked out, but I wasn’t going to count on it. I found a bench and read a bit more by the beach before finding lunch on the way back to the metro.
The train to Marseille was good. It was only 4.5 hours and it was direct. But I didn’t get in until 10, so I took a taxi instead of trying to figure out their metro and how to get to my hotel from the metro station that late at night.
Yesterday was my Marseille day. I went down to the port and it was really nice. There were still the fish market people selling what they had caught the day/night before. I saw live octopi that were trying to get out of their enclosure and squirting water. I got some video of that! It was definitely fresh seafood! Then I got my ferry ticket to go to If island and tour Chateau D’If (essentially Marseille’s Alcatraz). I had some time to kill, so I walked one length of the port and just enjoyed the water and the view. Then I saw the Cathedral. It wasn’t gothic, I’m not sure what style it was (lots of rounded corners…Romanesque?). It was nice, but not at all ornate. Very tall and cavernous. I liked it, but in a different way than I like the gothic Cathedrals.
Then I found some lunch and hopped on the ferry. It was a quick ride to If. Now, when I planned this trip, this was on my itinerary and I read that this prison was made famous by Alexandre Dumas in The Count of Monte Cristo. I haven’t read it. And I think I own it (in my classics collection), so I meant to read it before this trip. Whoops. I will read it when I get home! Anyway, the building was built in 1529 to act as a fortress to protect the port. I don’t remember when it started to act as a prison, but it was for sure in the 1700’s. It wasn’t very big, but the rooms/cells were actually pretty decent size. I didn’t know that Dumas’ father served as one of Napoleon’s right-hand men, along with another guy, Kleber. Napoleon didn’t entirely trust these guys, so Kleber was assassinated in Egypt in 1800 at the end of Napoleon’s expedition. His body lay in state, so to speak, in the prison for 18 years. Gross.
There were many stunning views from the Chateau, both of the sea and other islands and of Marseille. I went up onto the various levels and admired the view! I was finished looking around before the next ferry arrived, so I sat on a chair overlooking the water. It was quite peaceful! Which was good because the ferry back (first to another island and then back to port) was not. Too many school kids on board!
I got back and went to Starbucks. Hard to believe it had been two weeks since I had last been there! And then to H&M for a little shopping. After that I did a quick walking tour of Le Panier, the oldest part of Marseille, which used to be home to the Greek marketplace. You could tell it was quite old, and unfortunately not well-maintained. But it was really neat. Very narrow streets and different color houses/buildings and shutters. It appeared to be an artists’ quarter, as there were a lot of artisan shops.
Then I had dinner and came back to the hotel. It was a bit of an early night back, but I had to pay November bills and balance my checkbook. Such inane things, but it must be done! The internet here was acting up and not being friendly. It took so long to complete that task, that I didn’t have much time for anything else. I also had to look for a room in Sorrento, because the one I had booked got canceled (by the establishment) last week and my fight with hotels dot com was finally resolved (in my favor!).