Smelling lovely in Marsielle!

Trip Start Oct 18, 2006
Trip End Oct 19, 2007

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Flag of France  ,
Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Having only found one hostel available in Marsielle for that Monday night we arrived and found that the metro closed at 9pm- we were too late after our thirty minute bus ride to St Charles Gare from Marsielle airport. So we were literally stranded waiting for the bus to our accommodation in the worst area of a city renowned for crime! Unbelievably throughout our 2 hour wait and all throughout this trip people have gone out of their way to be friendly and helpful and help us three confused looking tourists. We were protected by at least three men at this bus stop and a whole lot of policeman so we didn't feel so unsafe and it taught us a good lesson not to stereotype certain races as being dangerous or out to get something- as these people turned out to be the most helpful and caring not wanting anything in return. Anyways we finally arrived at our accommodation on the coast of Marsielle after wandering the coastal road with my backpack on and lost for hour. It was then midnight and we had arrived in Marsielle at 8:30pm! It had been a very long day and we soon dropped off to sleep.
Our next day in Marsielle consisted of talking to some interesting Texans and Sth Americans over our breakfast where l had hot chocolate served in a bowl. We left our hostel and walked to the beach and sat on our beach and looked over Marsielle and to the direction of Les Callenques. It was a beautiful views and we could see all the way to the island holding Chateau d'if, the 16th century fortress-turned-prison made infamous by Alexandre Dumas classic novel Le Comte de Monte Cristo (The Count of Monte Cristo).
Catching our coastal bus back into Marsielle we checked our bags into the lockers at the station and then made our way to a Ryan Air suggested place called Savonnerie- a soap factory giving free tours three times a day (in French). We caught the 11am tour which consisted of the three of us and our French speaking guide who showed us the processes involved in making the famous Provencal soap. None of us realized just how much crushing, flattening, then crushing, then flattening and then rolling was involved in making soap!! The lavender soap was amazing and could be used as a exfoliator as well due tot he natural plant pieces still contained within it. Of course we couldn't resist the heavenly scents of lilac, lavender, honey bars of soaps for under 2 Euro. So we left smelling beautiful and inspired to treat ourselves on our week vacances.
We then caught the bus 60 to the beautiful Basilique Notre Dame de la garde, the cathedral overlooking the city and port. A beautiful panorama and 19th century architecture greeted our very steep and windy bus ride up. I was particularly taken with the prayers wall- where people had put on engraved marble slabs against the western side of the Cathedral their prayers and thanks to God for their answered ones. The view were so spectacular that we missed the bus trip down, so we decided to walk the steep steps of Marsielle down to the famous Vieux Port. We reached the port just as the sky opened and it started to pour with rain, so we did as all tourists do in the rain- we headed to Mac Donalds and ate our picnic lunch there. Having done already so many Chateaus and castles we decided to skip visiting the island and catch the bus instead to Les Callenques. A national park full of secluded bays and coves which looked picture perfect. Little did we realize that the national park was so near our YHA hostel accommodation- therefore way out of town! We reached there 40 minutes later by bus, where we were informed that if we wanted to get coastal views it was over an hour walk one-way. We didn't have time unfortunately to explore this amazing looking national park. So we bush bashed up the mountain to get the best views over the beautiful exposed cliffs and valleys that we could. We found shelter in the drizzle under a rocky shrub and sang childhood songs that we remembered to one another. It was interesting to note that Canadians sing alot of the same ones as Australians as children. We sang all the way back to the bus stop, where we caught our bus to the the train station and said goodbye to cosmopolitan Marsielle. We caught the train from Marsielle to Nice which traveled along the coast between St Rapheal and Nice so we were able to view from our seats the lovely sandy beaches of Cannes and Antibes as we approached Nice.....little did l know that l would in a couple of days be sun baking on those beaches l was admiring as the sun set.
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