Monday, April 20, 2009

Voyage en France partie 2- Marseille et Istres!

Okay I have to admit I was not anticipating writing that much about Paris. But I had to write it all, even if nobody reads it, it will help me to remember my experience there someday!

I promise my description of Marseille will be shorter!! Mostly because we wern't super ridiculously busy and constantly making sure we had enough time to see all the sites.. because pretty much, we saw everything we wanted to see within the first half of the day, on our first day. hah. This part of our trip was supposed to be our actual vacation part, which turned out kind of disastrous, as was the rest of the trip, but also was relaxing in a different way!

SO back in Paris, we decided to take a night train to Marseille to cut some costs for hotel rooms for that night. Im still not sure if I would rather spend the money on a hotel/hostel or be cheap and ridiculously uncomfortable (and in the end, hardly getting any sleep) on a night train. I was lucky enough to have the seat beside me free, and Lianna said she was slightly jealous because I looked like i was so comfortable all night.. believe me, I was not, but at least i got to put my legs up on the seat beside mine!!

So we arrived in Marseille at about 7:30 in the morning, and made our way to the hotel. The first thing i noticed about this city were the PALM TREES! They actually had freaking palm trees! Was absolutley, 100% not expecting this. They were soo nice! It had been really warm in Paris, like 25+ degrees which was incredible, but Marseille seemed to be a little chillier.. must have just been the days we were there! Then again it was probably 20 degrees every day, totally can't be complaining that this is cold weather!

One of the other things i noticed about the city right away was how much friendlier the people were than in Paris. Not that they wern't nice in Paris, but as soon as we held out our map to look for the directions to our hotel, someone came up to us and asked us if we needed help, and she immediately helped us and pointed us in the right direction! Very nice of her!!
I got to use my french a LOT more here than I did in Paris, because it wasn't so touristy, so therefore they literally ONLY spoke french!! It was lots of fun.

So after looking around the hotel, which was perfectly located, we went for a little walk around the city to get to know it. We asked an old man directions to the "Vieux Port"- the old port- which is the main area of the city. He was just like, oh, well Im going there right now, how about you just come with me! He was super freindly, and on our way down there, he even gave us a little history lesson about the city!! Showed us once again the friendliness of the locals! He told us (in french of course!!) about how the city was founded by Greeks in like 600 BC or something crazy like that, and one of their buildings were still there in ruins, which he pointed out to us, and about how there was a huge flood in the city a long time ago!
ANyway so we made it to the Vieux Port, it was gorgeous with lots of boats, and up on the hill was Notre Dame de la Garde! We explored a little bit, went to the tourist shop, got some maps, went into the "Old cathedral" (Second picture up there!!), and went back to check into our hotel, and then went and climbed up the hill to go to the Notre Dame de la garde! It was soooooo cool! It was quite a walk up, but was totally worth it! The view was incredible- the city looked like a greek city or something- all of the buildings were sand-coloured or white, just what I would expect from a mediterranean city, and also you could see into the water, and you could see the full Port!! It was gorgeous, and when you looked out into the water you could see some islands- one was the island with Chateau D'If on it, and the other ones were called the Frioul Islands.. very cool. We went to them the second day of our stay in Marseilles, so i will refrain myself from talking about them at least for 5 more minutes.
Overall the day was pretty good- lots of walking, but we wern't rushing or on any time limit for anything which was great. That night, after our supper (I totally was resorting on food from the supermarkets and 40 euro cent baguettes by this point haha), we met up with Kailey, Ally, Danni, Amber and Belinda who came into the city from a Danni's family's beachhouse that they were staying at for the week, which was in a village called Istres about 40 minute car drive away. It was a fun night, we just went to a couple of small bars and then by about midnight I was pooped out from all of the walking, so we all walked back to our hotel room and they stayed there for a little bit, and they decided to check out the bar across the street from the hotel. I went to bed, and at about 3:30 they came back into the hotel and had to wait until about 5 for their train back to Istres.

The next morning I woke up to Lianna telling me that we were going to be staying in the beachhouse for the next two nights, and we got into a little bit of an argument because I didnt really know them and was happy with the hotel we were in in Marseille... but I never win, so we packed up our things, signed out of the hotel, left our bags there and were going on a boat for the day to the Chateau D'If and the Frioul Islands!!
The Chateau d'If is a big castle built on an island right off the shores of Marseille, and was originally built for protection of the city because it was used as a lookout for incoming attacks. Soon after that it was used as a prison, because they knew the prisoners couldn't escape as it was on an island! Anyway it was really cool to see, and the place was made famous by the 'Count of Monte Cristo' book/movie, and i think I am the only person ever who has no idea what that book is. But it was cool even still! Very pretty. There was also this creepo Turkish guy who kept talking to me in French, and normally I just wouldnt even talk to them, but I was actually really enjoying speaking French to him so i kept talking to him, too funny! Eventually we got rid of him though, and we went to the Frioul Islands next, which were toooo cool! They were big calanques, which I think is just some kind of cool white Mediterranean rock, but it was soo gorgeous. There was also patches of land that were extremely BLUE. like, aqua, tropical blue! Totally wasn't expecting that. Also saw my first CACTUS plant, that was not an indoor plant! hah, but was actually supposed to be there! It was cool. There were some people that actually lived on this island and just had their own boats if they wanted to go into the city, but we didn't walk around that part too much, we just went on the big rocks and checked out some old building ruins and stuff. We saw this really old looking hospital and we walked over to that, and it looked really old and half torn down, but it turned out it was only like, 50 years old. It didnt make any sense at all when I was reading the description, but since my French is so bad it must have said some tramatic event happened or something there that I missed hah. Anyway, as we are always in a rush, we had to rush back to catch the next boat back to Marseille, to check out of our hotel and then catch the train to Istres, a little village about an hour train ride from Marseille!

To be completely honest I was not expecting anything really exciting from Istres, Im not sure why, maybe just because it was a tiny little city of 40,000. But it actually turned out to be gorgeous, and was the only sort of "vacation" we really had, where we could actually relax! That night we just hung out with the girls (Kailey Amber Belinda and Ally) and Ally's danish boyfriend Danni, who's summer house it was that we were at. The next day Lianna wanted to go to a beach nearby, but I was running very low on money so I thought it would be equally as good just to walk around the city, and it totally was! It was soo cute. It was really hot, totally weather for shorts, tshirts and sandals, which totally surprised me it was this hot at the beginning of April! I saw my first LIZARD! woo, that was exciting. The centre of the city was an old, Medieval village where the house was located. It was so neat, the streets were all really narrow and I dont even think there were street signs, and cars wern't really allowed to even drive in them. And there were TONS of cats. tons! While I was walking I couldn't get over the amount of palm trees too. They were sooo nice. I walked down to a lake that was really nice to look at. I think a little polluted to swim in, but nice to look at! There was a little water fountain decoration thingy in the middle too!

I went back to the house after a few hours of walking, I didn't feel very good and had to wait for the rest of them to get home, as the big group of people went with their car to Nice for the day. Soo I watched some movies, relaxed.. very nice!

Early early the next morning (4?) I woke up and headed off to the train station. I was on trains from 5AM until like 3PM the next day. craazy! It was a long, long ride home. I went from Istres-Marseille-Lyon Part Dieu- Strasbourg- Berlin-Hamburg- Flensburg- Padborg-Fredericia- AARHUS! finally! All of those cities I mentioned I had to get a train transfer at. long, long journey. haha. But made it at last! Everything was a smooth journey home except for the very very first train was 20 minutes late, making me miss my second train which messed everything up. But the nice guy at the Marseille train station made me a new route to go home. Very nice of him, whereas the others were supposed to leave that night that I left, but all of their trains ended up being full and other stuff, so I heard their trip was kind of disastrous.

Anyway, enjoy the pics!!!

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