where do i begin telling you about my weekend in marseille? i know: how about ‘getting there’. that is really where the adventure started. and i’ll try and keep this brief (those of you who know me are letting out a collective guffaw).
so my two really good friends, julia and david, from sweden, whom i met when i lived in hawaii, flew into marseille on thursday to see me. they’d booked a hotel in marseille so we planned on taking the bus/train/whatever back and forth to hang out with each other. it’s only about a 30min trip. for the weekend, i was going down to stay with them, as they had room on their pullout couch for me. i didn’t know how to get to marseille, so i packed my bags and headed down to the bus stop to ask the bus driver to drop me off at the train/bus station. “je dois arrêter à la gare routière, mais je ne sais pas l’arrête,” i said. translation: i need to stop at the train station but i don’t know which stop to get off at. her response (i’ll spare the translations. just be advised that anytime i’m quoting a conversation with a french person it always took place in french. yay me!): “ah no problem, it’s not very far. i will show you.” excellent! exactly what i was hoping for.
no. as we passed what i vaguely thought was the train station, she didn’t say anything. i figured she knew best so i remained seated. and continued to remain seated. i started to think something was wrong, and then i knew something was wrong, when we had gone to the other side of town, she was beginning to get her things together, we stopped at the hospital and she turned the bus off. then she looked at me and said, “oh, sorry, i forgot.” YOU FORGOT?! i nearly started crying. or cursing at her. i was confused. she forgot? i was sitting there in clear view of her rearview mirror the entire trip. i started to mumble and wonder aloud in english what i was going to do, and she looked like she was starting to maybe feel bad. or want me off the bus. so she pointed me in the direction of another bus stop which would take me to la gare routier. 30 meters from the stop i see the bus come and go and then stop at a red light. well you can bet i ran, and made her open the door for me. i made it to the bus station, which was not really what i wanted as i wanted the train station. confused again. information booths closed 5 minutes ago (grrr buslady!!!). ask another bus driver: “to marseille?” “no, there.” run again. make it on a bus to marseille, which is slower than the train, but at that point i just want to be there eating dinner with julia and david. there was more confusion when i arrived but suffice it to say that i made it safe and sound and you can bet i know where both the bus and train stations are in aix and marseille and won’t have any trouble next time.
after that the weekend went off without a hitch (i even made it back without too much trouble!). although, i shouldn’t forget to note that when we got up to their hotel room the first thing i said was, “oh, you mean the ONLY bed in the room is a pullout couch?” yes, it’s what you are thinking. the three of us shared a pullout couch for two nights. hilarious.
we ate dinner that night at a spanish tapas restaurant. of course julia and david – who don’t speak a word of french and were so happy to have me there to translate menus etc. – picked probably the only restaurant in marseille that doesn’t have menus in french but rather spanish. awesome. so we picked something and ate and caught up and it was absolutely fantastic. i haven’t seen them in two and a half years and it felt like not a day had passed. it was so easy, so normal, and so comfortable to be with them. loved it. after dinner (which was on a huge patio outside), we proceeded to the next patio area which was an outdoor russian/french bar (this time all in french, though they had an excellent selection of vodkas) and got a beer and continued the catch-up. eventually we walked back to the hotel for the first night of sleeping like sardines.
in the morning david went and got fresh, warm baquettes from the bakery around the corner, and we ate them with brie and jam. do this if you’re ever anywhere in france. trust me.
we then decided to hike up to the cathédral notre dame de la garde, a ginormous cathedral on the hill overlooking all of marseille. it was quite the trek but really neat, and the cathedral was spectacular. so was the view. and on the way home, david witnessed a man break into a jewelry shop in BROAD DAYLIGHT!!! (bear in mind that in france between the hours of 1 and 3 many shops close). he heard a window break, and looked over to see this man with a bunch of loot in his hand who tried to look un-suspicious when he saw that david was watching. we sort of stood there for a minute, pretending to be interested in the patisserie on the corner, and decided to just keep walking. the man disappeared. crazy right?!? and kind of hilarious! anyways… for dinner we splurged a bit and went to a nice restaurant and had real provençal/french fare (fish soup, salade niçoise, salmon, duck, steak, chocolate fondante, and bottle of bordeaux). we found a pub afterwards, and eventually watched a movie in the hotel before falling asleep.
today we went to the château d’if – yes, it’s what you’re thinking (or maybe not at all). the famous prison-island a star feature of alexander dumas’ famous novel, “the count of monte cristo.” it was pretty cool. the ferry ride offered some nice photo ops and we had fun wandering around the old castle. it was a gorgeous sunday afternoon on the mediterranean and half the sailboats from the harbour were out on the water. it was so beautiful. back at le vieux port we got some crèpes with a side of horrible service (no tip for you), and after that it was time for me to head back to the train station.
tomorrow i have my first day of orientation! i’m excited and also slightly dreading it. for one, i hate orientation anything. as you have maybe guessed, i’d much rather just figure everything out on my own even when i’ve learned the lesson countless times that this often leads to unnecessary stress and frustration. i was very happy, however, to have had rémy with me on friday to help me open a french bank account, get started on getting my residency permit, and stop at a large superstore-type place where i was able to pick up some necessities like clothes hangers and a stovetop espresso maker.
so there you have it. come visit me and i assure you we’ll have as much fun. i’m in the process of adding photos here and on flickr. stay tuned! i will continue to keep you posted. don’t worry, i promise they won’t all be this long…
p.s. apparently i should be getting used to the aroma of b.o…. “eau de french boy”?