2004-06-24 : Tell us all about Marseille Uncle Humpy!!
Why OK then, I will!
Booking tickets to get on the train at 7:20 seemed like a great idea, until we calculated that we'd need to get up by 5:30 in order to make it to the train station from where we were staying!! Surprisingly though we made it, and I settled in for my first ever ride on the TGV – Train Grand Vitesse, or in English “Very Fast Train”. They weren't kidding either – we covered a distance similar to the Adelaide to Melbourne tilt, but it only took 3 hours!!
The first thing that struck me about Marseille is that it's an incredibly beautiful place – like something you'd only see in movies. The second thing that hit me was the distinct odour of dogshit, and this was not a once off, because the stuff is EVERYWHERE!!
We met up with Nick's friend Julia and wandered down to the port for a bit and grabbed a beer – so idyllic! Sitting outside a cafe overlooking the Mediterranean, enjoying a nice cold beer… It was also good to see a marina with boats that looked as if they got used more than once ever 4 or 5 weeks.
Next part of the plan was to hook up with Nick's friend Elisa and head out to a pub to watch the match (it seems that this town, and possibly the whole country, is obsessed with soccer!!). During this visit I learned that Red Bull is banned from sale in France, although my lack of vocab prevents me from understanding why…
After the match we walked up to another pub where Elisa's friend's band was playing out on the street. It was pretty cool, but their English cover songs were what cracked me up – they were singing “All the small things” by Blink 182, and all I heard was “All ze, small sings”.
When they finished we wandered up a bit further because there was still heaps of music going on, and discovered that there was a humungous music festival going on! The streets were packed and the place was just crazy. Turns out that all of France has a great big night out on June 21st – it was wicked. We danced and drank until about 2am and then collapsed.
Tuesday night Julia's brother Victor came over and said he was taking us to “the beach”. Sounded good, but I was to have another one of these moments of cultural realisation. I'd always pictured a Beach as a sandy thing, although the pebbly thing in England was still within acceptable parameters. I think now though I shall have to change my definition to “any point where the land meets the water”. In this cqse, the land-sea interface consisted of some fairly pretty – but also quite sharp – white rocks, set in quite a pretty and quite old area of Marseille.
We shot back home again afterwards and got ready to go out for dinner – this time for a birthday do of a friend of Elisa's. The restaurant was wicked, I understood most of the conversations, and as seems to be the norm here in France, the girls were all GORGEOUS! Mon dieu…
To finish up I guess a few observations:
1) The traffic here is completely spazz. How anyone gets anywhere here without dying is an absolute mystery to me. Aside from that weird “driving on the right hand side” thing, they just seem to regard traffic lights as purely ornamental, and will generally throw their cars into whataver gaps look like they might be about to exist.
2) Marseille people are crazy – Nick was telling me about how there was an Old Port and a New Port, then Julia cut him off and said there was no New Port. When Nick pressed her for an explanation it surfaced that there's the Old Port, and then there's the OLD Old Port. But they DO have a New Library… just no Old Library.
3) I think I've fallen in love at least once every day I've been here. When I told Nick he said “That's OK, so do they”. This place is… wonderful. I just wish I spoke the damn language!
OK, over and out from me – next time I'll explain why I'm so damn sunburnt I can barely move.