Rocky Beaches Beats Rocky Buses

Trip Start Aug 16, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of France  , Provence,
Sunday, September 12, 2010

So yesterday some friends and I, (team awesome, as we call ourselves), went to Marseille. We intended to go to the beach for a while and then explore the city.  But we ended up spending pretty much the entire day at the beach, which is just as well since we have been told that this was likely to be the last weekend that we could use the beach before it gets cold.  I ended up getting a student bus pass, which will make it easier, (and cheaper) to travel around.  Unfortunately only in La Bouche de Rhone, but it will still be useful.  Se we met at the bus station then took about a 30 min bus ride to Marseille, where we transferred to the Metro to pretty close to the main city.  We went to the Monoprix, (which is basically like the French version of Target) and grabbed some food for a small picnic on the beach.  I got some wine, goat cheese and fresh bread.  I realized that I didn't have a cork screw to open the bottle so I asked the girl working in the wine section if they sold them.  Instead she took the bottle to the back and opened it for me.  I hadn’t even paid for it yet.  I guess that is a fairly common request here.

So against some of the objections of a few of the girls in our group we decided to walk to the beach from there rather than pay for the bus.  The walk was only about 15 mins so it was really not that bad.  It’s surprising how opposed to walking some Americans can be.  It really makes me wonder about how much of a sedentary society we have become.  Anyways, so we got to the beach, and they have their own statue of David in the middle of a round –about.  Who needs Italy right?  Guess I can check that off my list.  We then went and had our picnic on the beach and laid out in the sun for a while and listened to  French music on my i-pod speakers and later the girls put on some fun 80s and 90s classics.  The food was great, especially after the goat cheese had warmed up a bit in the sun.  I fell asleep on my stomach for a little bit and burned my back just a little. Oh well, haha.  Anyways we moved to a different beach after a while because the water was clearer and went swimming.  The only problem with this beach was that this one was on a beach of smooth river rocks instead of sand.  This was incredibly uncomfortable to walk on, although surprisingly comfortable to lie on.  But I found some really cool looking rocks and brought them home with me.  So after swimming for a little while, (and I do mean a little while, the water was pretty cold and there was a decent breeze) and lying out on the beach to dry we took a bus to the Vieux Port where we had dinner along the port and watched a beautiful sunset.  Dinner was great but the dessert was definitely sub par.

It was so late by the time we got back to town that we only had to time to eat and then head back to town before the last bus was going to leave for Aix.  So I didn’t get to see any of the city, but no worries now that I have the bus pass it only costs 2 Euros to get there and back, so I’m planning on coming back on our next free weekend.

So we got back took the metro back to the main station in Marseille.  While waiting for the bus to Aix to leave we met these two guys who were going to Grad School in Aix.  One of them was from North Carolina.  After talking to him for a few minutes it quickly became very obvious that he we fairly intoxicated.  We loaded the bus a couple minutes before it was about to leave, they went back inside to see if any of the vending machines sold beer.  Unfortunately, when they got on the bus they sat next to us.  The really drunk one kept trying to engage us in conversation.  Our initial excitement in finding another person who spoke English had long since passed and we were all trying to find reasons to avoid talking to them.  Candice pretended to sleep and Angelica and I put on our i-pods.  Unfortunately this left poor Michelle as their main target.  I didn’t actually listen to anything on my i-pod.  I was listening to them in order to keep an eye on the situation and make sure the girls were OK.  The main drunk guy from NC was trying his hardest to keep the girls attention and through his persistence was able to get their names; the girls surrendered them extremely reluctantly.  I told them my name was Andrew.  He had made several racist and homophobic remarks randomly throughout his rants.  But at one point he almost un-intentionally got in a fight with these two big black French dudes sitting behind me.  He was getting slowly louder and one of them shushed him.  Neither speaking the others’ language understood what the other was saying.  He got upset and made some kind of rude remark, the exact words escape me now.  Regardless it was fairly obvious that we were about to have a situation on our hands.  I decided to stop pretending to sleep and took off my silent headphones and talked down the drunk southerner, who did not realize the situation he was getting himself into, and for some reason thought that he was just trying to tell the black guy that he liked his jersey.  I told him to calm down and chill, that the black guys thought he wanted to fight.  Luckily he took my advice.  I had seen this kind of situation too many times to really be concerned by it, the girls were much more alarmed.  My years in my fraternity came in handy, having had to talk down many a drunken friend or random guest at different events.  We skipped the first stop in Aix not wanting to get off at the same stop as them.

Today I went to Mass again at the cathedral but on my way back there was a big fair of many organizations and clubs around Aix.  I picked up a couple fliers from a couple different theatre groups.  Hopefully I can find a good group to work with so I can practice my French and practice acting from the perspective of another culture.
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Katie on

You will find that your friends will be more and more willing to walk when they realize that walking is free, and that no matter what country you are in transportation takes money. If you guys end up in a bigger city for a number of days, especially Rome, Prague, or Vienna I would recommend a several day metro card that can get you around for pretty cheap. But other than that all European cities were built hundreds of years ago, so the city centers and most of teh attractions in the cities are close to eachother. Even in Rome you really only need a metro card if you want to go to teh Vatican, mainly because it is a long walk, but it is walkable.
Also, I do not think that I would have seen half the amazing things that I saw last year if I had not walked all over those 17 countries. Getting lost and turned around as you have already found will put you in places that you have never imagined. You should tell them all of this.
Something that you will probably have already seen is the fact that when most Europeans get drunk they handle it much better than Americans. I found this out last year. Americans drink to get drunk as it seems that these two southerners had done, Europeans seem to drink to enjoy it, and even if they get drunk, like the Swedes did on many occasions, (I have never seen anyone get drunk like Swedes do,) they do not get in fights.

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