Tuesday was the ninth day of our Europe vacation, and 6th full day on the boat, now at Marseille. This schedule is trying, in that we’re visiting 10 ports in 10 days, with no days at sea, no layovers in any one port. Since we’ve never been to any of these places before, it’s a lot of new experiences in a short time. That’s one reason I’m forcing myself to write up notes and post photos about each city relatively quickly — if I don’t, all these impressions will get mixed up and hopelessly jumbled.
Both Marseille and Monte-Carlo are built up around rectangular bays that serve as yacht ports. Like the other cities, Marseille has an old town, though relatively small (and smelly, a mix of fish market and garbage), and a much larger urban area more resembling Barcelona’s, though this part of the French coast is much hillier, with posh, narrow residential streets south of the harbor (Vieux Port) that afford great views of the Mediterranean Sea.
We walked through Old Town then hopped on a “train car” tour shuttle that consisted of a truck dressed up as a train engine pulling a string of open-air canopied riding carts, all on wheels to drive through the city streets and up and down those narrow residential roads. Our target was the Notre-Dame de la Garde, this city’s landmark on a hilltop. Frustratingly, as with the Barcelona tour that didn’t leave us time to see the Gaudi Basilica even if we’d had tickets, we had only a 5 minute photo op a this location, not enough time for a tour. Then back down the narrow streets to the harbor. We ate lunch at a cafe that specialized in bouillabaisse and paella, then walked up and down the big shopping streets, and bought a couple shirts at H&M, before returning to the ship.
- Everyone has iPhones, or equivalent smart phones. Silicon Valley has conquered the world.
- And we hear the same pop songs everywhere, notable on the ship (with its passengers who grew up in the ’50s and ’60s) and even from the street musicians at various tourist spots — e.g. “Memory” and “The Sounds of Silence” and various Beatles songs.
- Perhaps because I had a better view of the street during our Marseille tour, in the relatively low train car seats, I noticed here that it was a rare parked car that did not have scratches or dents or worse along its side. The price for owning a car in a European city with ancient, narrow streets not originally designed for cars, I suppose.