Thursday, July 3, 2014

Vacation, Day 7; Cruise, Day 2

Marseilles pictures are HERE.

Today: Marseilles. A short overnight steam from Barcelona, we were docked 3-4 miles outside the city center of Marseilles by 8:AM. We were still struggling a bit with our sleep schedules, and were awakened by the 8:AM docking announcement. We decided the day before that we’d let the tour people get off the boat first, and it was a good call. Breakfast at 8:30 was not so crazy-busy, and at 9:AM we walked right onto the waiting shuttle and were downtown in a quick 15 minutes.

We had a vague idea of things we’d be happy to see—the Roman Dock museum, a couple churches, a couple forts—and we headed off on foot to see what landed in front of us. The harbor in Marseilles is lovely, and PACKED with boats, both working and pleasure. The docks extend from both sides of the harbor and almost meet in the middle, a channel being kept open in the center big enough for a couple boats to pass. The rest is parking space. So we walked around that and looked at both the many boats and the shops and restaurants that ringed the harbor (it’s maybe half a mile on each side). At the end of the harbor going inland is the old city, and we just headed inland and picked an interesting-looking street and took it. Interesting shops and historic-looking buildings. We then stumbled upon a semi-impromptu outdoor market that stretched along both sides of a walking path along a boulevard for maybe a mile or more. This was a market for locals, I think, similar to those that pop up along the streets of lower Manhattan. Socks and underwear and phone covers and numerous kinds of foods, etc. Susan found a couple interesting barrettes and I found a small metal wallet. Lots of fun.

From there we headed vaguely uphill towards a church up on the highest peak of land overlooking the city, the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. It was quite a hike to get up there, but the panoramic views of the beautiful old city and harbor far below were quite worth the effort. The church was quite lovely, and set in an unlikely setting. Lots of gold leaf and many memorials to those who died in sailing accidents over the centuries (our guide book says that Marseilles is one of the oldest cities in Europe, having been established over 3,000 years ago).

In all, it was a larger place than I had imagined. They have a pretty elaborate subway system, and we saw a number of bus routes, so there’s more to it than I realized. We, of course, saw only a small portion of it, but it was a lovely introduction.

Tomorrow: Monaco!

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