We finally made my dream come true. I was finally in the south of France. Woo! We stayed there from 11th to the 14th of October. (I’m almost caught up, yay!)
After an all day train adventure, and I do mean all day (10:30am to 9:00pm), we arrived at the Marseille train station exhausted and hungry. With our excellent Google map directions, we wandered about the city for almost half an hour, returning back and forth to the train station several times to try and figure out where the heck we were going. We finally made our way in the right direction and got to our small but adequate hotel. It was nice having some privacy. We wound up grabbing McDonalds because it was the only thing open besides some sketchy kebab shops and we knew that we probably wouldn’t get sick from it. Afterwards, I figured out how to get the TV shows in English to not be dubbed into French and we were able to watch some TV and pass out.
I know we had gotten in the night prior, but I’m not counting that as our first day. So, pass out we did. And we didn’t wake up until 11:30am! We showered, got ready and went down to Vieux Port, the main area in Marseille. I was pretty hungry, but everything was too expensive and didn’t look very good in my opinion, but we finally sat down at this small pizza place on the water and man, were they rude. They brought out our pizzas and mine wasn’t even what I had asked for, brough out cold, old fries for George and they charged an arm and a leg for less than mediocre food. So angry. Lucky for us,there was a Haagen-Daas right down the way and it helped ease the psi for the bad meal. We walked up to the fortifications enjoying the warm sun and water before heading out to get some water and chocolate as a snack. After that, we went back to the hotel to relax and get ready to grab a bite to eat. We wound up going up the hill a bit to check out this Chinese restaurant, which turned out to be more Thai, which George is a particular fan of. So we kept walking down the street and found a great Indian place that had really good authentic food. Very happy. We then retired to the room for the evening where we watched Argo.
Another lazy, late sleeping in day. George wanted to see about renting a boat, so we headed over to the tourist office. She recommended a boat that would take us to the Chateau d’If, which is the island prison from the Count of Monte Cristo. I had no idea, but George was pretty excited. To rent a boat for just us for a couple of hours would have been like €200, something ridiculous. We then went to the train station to book our respective tickets so I could head to Switzerland and he could head to Milan to fly home. It took a while thanks to a very long line and some people that feel they are above everyone else and just cut to the front. After that whole fiasco, which involved a good deal of French interaction on my part, we went to grab some food. George grabbed fast food and I went to this bagel shop where I had a delicious turkey bagel sandwich. I did a little happy dance as I ate it. We then jumped on the boat which takes 20 minutes from Vieux Port and got to the prison, which was €4 each to explore.
We went up to the towers, through the prisoners rooms and out into the grass, where we found a bunch of bones. Don’t know who or what the bones belonged to, but my morbid mind went to the prisoners trying to escape. We stayed for a couple of hours, hopped back on the boat and walked around Marseille a bit before trying to get some dinner.
We started out at this small bistro, where once again, they ignored us. So, we got up and left, going to the place next door which had pastas and pizzas and was cheaper and probably better than the other place. I mean, I know France isn’t known for their customer service in the restaurant industry, but this was getting ridiculous. We ate, drank, and fell asleep watching CSI and Dexter.
Waking up before the butt crack of dawn to pack up and get ready, we headed out to the train station to get to Nice and ultimately Monaco. We arrived in Nice before 11, and meant to put our backpacks in the storage lockers, but no one was really there to help, so we figured that we would just stick them in the train station at Monaco. Don’t do what we did, folks. We arrived in Monaco 20 minutes later only to find out that they have no lockers anywhere in the city. Oh goodie. So, we had to hop back on a train, go back to Nice and put our bags into a locker. Finally there was someone there who was able to help us with the change situation since the lockers would only take €2, €1, 50c or 20c pieces and the day lockers cost €7.50. No one carries that much change with them. So, we hopped again on the next train to Monaco and finally went about our day. We walked around, grabbed some sandwiches, went to the Monte Carlo casino and explored the boardwalk a bit.
Too bad it was raining and overcast when we went because I can imagine it being very pretty when it’s sunny. After a few hours, we headed back to Nice, where we walked down to the beach and grabbed some food to kill time before our trains departed. George first, then mine. As George’s train chugged away, I went back into the station to wait for my night train to Mulhouse City outside of Switzerland.
So now, I am doing this trip solo until I leave in the beginning of December. This will definitely be a test of endurance and personal commitment since I will be on my own for a total of 7 weeks. Eeeek. Wish me luck!