9 March 2011

Dodging Dog Shit in Marseille [France]

I write this post on the cheapest possible regional train, surrounded by dodgy looking characters and screaming babies. And it was still 30 euro! But I turn and look out the window at the dramatic French coastline and it doesn't seem so bad.

Just when I thought the worst was over, I come down with the flu. Out of two years working in London I rarely took a sick day (apart from bad bout of tonsillitis). And now of all times I get sick. But drugged up on cold and flu tablets, I soldier on.

So lets start where I left off last time - on a train speeding toward Marseille. The trip was uneventful, but I arrived to a beautiful blue sky and the sun shining brightly. Perfect! I met my couch surf host, Sara, at the train station and she showed me back to her flat, and my home for the next two days. Sara is Hungarian and is in Marseille participating in the European Volunteer Scheme. The best way to describe her in my kiwi vocabulary: she is awesome! Sara lives with four other volunteers in their large flat, conveniently just down the road from the station. I first met Masha, a Ukranian girl, very warm and friendly.

I really wanted to get the headache of the police report out of the way. I didn't know if I would be able to even file the report as the incident occured in Paris, and I was now 700kms away in Marseille, but I thought I should try. Marsha offered to come and be my personal translator - and just as well she did; my French was just about as bad as their English!

We spent the majority of the afternoon standing in lines or sitting and waiting, but we got there in the end. Afterward the sun was low in the sky, but we decided to make the most of the remaining light and visit the Notre Dame de la Garde. This cathedral is perched on the top of a huge hill and overlooks the whole city (you can see how steep in the photos!). Unfortunately when we got there the cathedral was closed, so we had to appreciate it from the outside. What was most impressive was the views out over the city and coast. Breathtaking.

That evening I met Tobi, a friendly German guy who comes from outside Munich and was kind enough to share his German beer. We all spent the evening chilling out, chatting, and talking about home.

The following day I woke up and could tell immediately I was coming down with the flu. So instead of leaping out of bed and seizing the day like I normally would, my head hit the pillow and I went back to sleep. When I finally did surface very late in the morning I went out to visit the Calanque - some amazing cliffs about 40 minutes outside the centre city. The visit also required a 30 minute walk through a small forest. It was really nice being outside the city and in the wilderness. The cliffs were definitely worth the effort. Just check out the photos!

That afternoon I wandered around the harbour, which was HUGE and filled to the brim with all kinds of boats.

I got home late avo and felt like absolute balls. I decided to take a short lie down... and woke up three hours later! The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and chatting with my new friends, and rehearsing a birthday song they are going to sing for one of the other flatmates. Check it out, it is pretty awesome.

This morning I again slept late, and woke up feeling like crap. I had enough time to quickly shoot down to the supermarket and pick up a few things before rushing to catch my 12:20 train. Destination: Nice. Unfortunately I have not secured a couch-surf host for Nice so I might have to try and find a hostel. Which is a shame because not only is Couch Surfing a cheap way to stay somewhere, you also meet some really cool people and learn a lot about them and the cities they live.

So my overall feelings about Marseille - it lives up to its reputation as the dog shit capital of the world; I had a number of close calls! It is also very edgy, maybe a bit dodgy. Think Berlin, but not as 'cool'. There is something about the city, but I am not sure I would rush back. It is beautiful and dramatic, but not polished.

The plan for the next few days is to base myself in Nice and visit Cannes, Antibes and Monaco, which are all fairly close. By the end of the week I plan to be in Italy! First stop: Milan.


  1. Oh my God, the south of France is heaven. Literally. I think it's probably where we go when we die. You will LOVE Nice and Cannes, I spent a summer there two years ago and it was the best time of my life, everything is so pretty. Have fun and good luck!

  2. Those pictures are AMAZING. Seriously. Gorgeous.

    Um.. boo for the flu man. I hope you don't get what we call The Plague because I'm on week 3. It sucks.

  3. Wow, even though you're not feeling well it still seems like you're having a good time and doing a lot of interesting things. Great photos!

    PS-- did you delete your other blog?

  4. Hey!!! Thank you for the AWSOME post from us! :) We already miss you! Really! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...