Published: May 27th 2012May 27th 2012
In the cheap room
Guinness bemoans the state of the cheap hotel room I'd booked online.
So it gets to the stage now when I am about to meet up with my mates from Geelong / Jan Juc and do the thing that started this trip off.
I booked a central hotel room online from Milan and (despite the Cannes File Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix and the long weekend and the French train drivers' union action, managed to get from Milan to Marseille in 10 hours (usually 8). My mother advised me to tie one end of a piece of string to my wallet and the other end to my willy if I was going to stay in a place like that. She was pretty much right. Now I know where people go when others say: "get a room" - what a dive!
Assuming Steph gets here from her Balkan tour (via Warsaw and Berlin) and Cal gets here (pretty much straight from Oz via Paris) we're catching the ferry from Marseille tomorrow night (if we can get past the huge roadworks at the waterfront where they are redeveloping the new port area).
The forecast is for perfect walking weather (11 overnight to a top of 19 during the day) but with some possible rain. I hope my gear is appropriate - I brought a mix of dry and cold wet weather clothes and not much in the way of tentage or sleeping bag so I'll just have to wing it.
Anyway the French all say Corsica is beautiful so it should be good. I have to say that Marseille hasn't grabbed my attention. It's a plain, dirty, unrenovated place with a high proportion of people who struggle seem to make a living. There are Turkish and Moroccan enclaves with pumping auto-tune arabic-sounding music, kebab restaurants, pizzerias and not many people in the more expensive restaurants even at lunch time.
I walked (naturally) down to the Old Port today. Lots of yachts and small power boats but none of the huge 'gin palaces' I saw congregated along the Riviera between Ventimiglia and Nice. The entrance to the port is flanked by fortifications in a minor state of disrepair but giving good views of the port area. From there to the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde 160 metres above sea level on a limestone outcrop. The crypt was below, hewn from the limestone, and I walked into a service in the church above - with singing and praying too! (but I didn't know the words or the tune). The second biggest city in France is frankly a disappointment. I don't say that often because I know each place has its charms and nuances and special districts and it depends on who shows you around and what they know. But architecturally and superficially it's a dump.
We get back from Corsica on 6 June (must book a ferry tomorrow) and head up to Aix-en-Provence which I have very high hopes for. From there it's the TGV to Paris to see my mother and catch up with my brother again who has decided to come to Paris for a few days to fix my mother's leaking window (don't ask...)