September 29th, Marseille

Did you know the French spell Marseille with an ultimate s, as in Marseilles? Not sure why, since they don’t pronounce it.

So I was rather sad about leaving Ann and her household in Cleveland. Her less-large cat, Ivan, after ignoring me for years, fell in love with me, followed me around, sat in my lap, let me take liberties with his person, etc. That was hard to leave, as also was Lucy, her little rescue doggie who becomes more charming and beguiling as she continues to feel more secure. And Ann and her dh are about the world’s best companions, but we were all brave.

The airline flights were fine. It was crowded to Newark then enough empty seats on the trip to Brussels to make things much more comfortable. We also, ta-da, were given a meal. Wow. It was pretty awful. I should have stuck to my energy bars. The final flight, to Marseille, was a bit of a time crunch, as we had to show our passports and go through security again to transfer, but we were rewarded with a 1/3 full plane, so it was very comfortable. When I finally got organized enough to leave the airport, I was just in time to be the final fare on the bus to the Gare Saint-Charles, the main train station. My timing is seldom that exquisite. The driver was less than impressed with the feeble job I did of trying to wedge my huge bag in the already-stuffed baggage hold.

Then I had to find my hotel. I haven’t been in a totally unfamiliar place for a while, and had forgotten what a not only non-existent, but latently evil, non-sense of direction I had. I would ask someone about every ten minutes for directions, would only slightly understand the directions, then head off again. So, I waited to ask a middle-aged woman who was being dropped off by a friend, The two consulted, looked at the map, then told me to put my stuff in her car, that she’d take me there. I would never recommend this idea to anyone, but I know we middle-aged women are the most trustworthy creatures on the planet. So she took me almost to the door, stopped only by a one-way street, and I had a 20 foot walk to the front door of the Premier Classe Hotel. It’s a rather spartan hotel, but clean and comfortable, and has wi-fi. And look at the scene from my window, taken in late afternoon sunlight. Lovely.

HPIM0352.jpg image by zecainfrance

HPIM0351.jpg image by zecainfrance

After a much needed shower, I headed out again. After a little airline food, I needed lunch, and at the first restaurant, I waited at an outside table for ten minutes, then finally left. Service was much better at Cafe de la Banque. I asked for lots of water, and had to get a photo of the French table setting–water in an old wine bottle, the cut baguette, the wine, the water glass. Very nice. Look at the salmon; it was very nice too, and good to have some protein, finally. I thought I ordered a creme brulee, but she didn’t bring one, and didn’t bill me for one, and I didn’t want after dealing with the salmon, so that worked.HPIM0344.jpg image by zecainfrance

HPIM0343.jpg image by zecainfrance

It was wonderful to people-watch in France again. French people are certainly a lot trimmer than Americans overall, though they do have a range of body types. Too much smoking, alas, including the young woman with the huge baby bump and the cigarette in her hand. And I’m sad to report that the French are almost as hooked on cell phones as we are. The phone is kept on the table, for an immediate response to anything that might arrive. And people walked down the street, eyes glued on the phone, impervious to the beautiful world around them. sigh.

So my museum tracking was very unfortunate because of poor signage, technical problems at the museum, and short hours. I did make it to the completely Romanesque Church of Saint Laurent, which was first built in the Ninth Century. I think I found some of the original walls, with a beautiful pink tint in the stones. I also like the geometric patterns in the stained glass windows, .HPIM0350.jpg image by zecainfrance

HPIM0349.jpg image by zecainfranceand the use of oil paintings of religious themes for decorations

While cruising around, looking at interesting buildings, I saw one especially imposing 19th Century, Second Empire one that had the look of an administrative function, and I headed in for a look. A voice, increasingly urgent, began calling “Madame!” and I finally figured I was the madame in question. I stopped, and was confronted by a cute young gendarme, looking at me quizically. “Qu’est-ce c’est?” I asked, “What is this?” He answered that it was the prefecture building for the police. Deciding abasement was the best policy, I announced I was a tourist, apologized, thanked him, and left the building.

More wandering around, lost but enjoying the view, and then I returned to the hotel to succomb to jet lag and another shower.

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