Escape from Marseille

Today is my last day in Marseille.  I can’t say I will miss it.  I’m taking the overnight train tonight, which departs at 12:30am.  I should arrive in Barcelona early morning tomorrow.

I had an extremely expensive breakfast this morning.  Not knowing the language really is a problem.  I ended up getting a fancy salad without knowing what I was getting or how much it was.  When the waitress slapped the €15 bill down, I was pretty shocked.  I’m looking forward to Spain where I can at least speak and understand enough of the language to get by.

As I was checking out of the hostel, I saw Patrick heading out.  He told me to wait for him to come back before I left.  I didn’t feel like sticking around to see what he was up to now.  I decided to see some sights in Marseille before I left, and I hitched a ride with Mattheas and his gang in their large Volkswagon, hippie van.  They took me to the train station where I left my big backpack.  Afterwards, we went for ice-cream at which point they dropped me off before leaving the city to go camping.

I walked around the rest of the day.  I climbed up the steep slope to the Notre Dame Cathedral (yes, there’s one in Marseille, too).  It was so windy at the top it nearly lifted me up, and I felt like I could be blown away any moment. The women had a more difficult time.  Dressed in their short summer skirts, they struggled to hold and squeeze them down.

The sight of the Mediterranean Sea – my first – was astounding.  It was a deep blue, pockmarked with white waves, and it seemed to stretch out forever. In the distance I could also see Chateau d’Iff, the prison made famous by the Count of Monte Cristo.

The Lonely Planet Guidebook recommends eating fish stew while in Marseille, so I went looking for some.  I ended up back at the internet cafe where I had stopped by yesterday, and I asked the extremely helpful lady there if she could direct me to a restaurant nearby where I could have fish stew.  Her English wasn’t so good, however, and she told me to speak to a young man who was using a computer there.  He seemed puzzled that I would want to eat fish stew and discouraged me from doing so.  He recommended instead that I have soupin, another local seafood specialty, at a nearby restaurant and told me how to get there.  I grew excited about trying something recommended by a local.  Could this possibly be to Marseillans what “Chicken & Rice” is to me as a New Yorker?  Unfortunately, when I finally arrived at the restaurant, I saw that it was closed until the end of August.  I settled for a burger at an Arab restaurant instead.

The train to Barcelona was not as comfortable as I had hoped.  I sat in a reclining seat, which didn’t recline enough to let me stretch out, and to make matters worse, the girl sitting behind me kept bumping my seat.  So I hardly slept and arrived in Barcelona bleary-eyed and weary.

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