The past week has been extremely busy for us. Michael got back from Finland on Friday and our friends Ashley and Chet arrived the same day to visit us from the US. Michael had to go pick them up from the train station by himself because Brooklyn and I wouldn’t be able to fit with them and all of their luggage. That night, we took them to eat at Le Caveau, which is one of our favorite French restaurants. We ate there about 6 years ago on our first trip to France and really enjoyed it. It is a kind of fancy restaurant that has really good, fresh French food…although they do have some weird stuff like blood sausage and cow stomach. We never get that. Ever. It really seems like it is in a cave, hence the name, and only has about 10 tables. From where we sat we could see the chef cooking the food because everything is in one big room. The walls are decorated with wine bottles and they put a big chalkboard with the meals they are offering that day on your table. Michael got a steak with mushroom sauce and I got a steak, but I ended up asking for some mushroom sauce because it was so good! Chet got an Angus steak and I forgot what Ashley got. Sorry Ashley! All our meals came with bread and foie gras and truffade (a French potato and cheese dish).
The next day, Ashley and I went shopping for a few hours and we found lots of neat things and clothes to buy and the guys took Brooklyn to the park and to eat Kebabs (Michael’s favorite and Chet really liked them too). Ashley and I ate at an Italian restaurant called Pinocchio’s and I got the lasagna and Ashley got the Carbonara and they were both amazing! So amazing that we didn’t have room for dessert! The lasagna was even better than the spaghetti in bolognaise sauce I got the last time and this time I didn’t even need a doggie bag!
We all left on Sunday morning for Marseille and took the bus to the train station (another reason it is awesome to live in the city, especially after we missed the tram in front of our apartment and had to walk a few blocks to the bus stop). There was no security at the train station, no one checked our bags and you didn’t even have to show your tickets to get on the train. Conductors would come by a little while after the train was going and check your tickets. Definitely different than the US, and not in a good way this time! The first train we rode didn’t have assigned seats so we all sat together. It was surprisingly roomy and comfortable. The trains were never crowded and Brooklyn was a good girl so we had a good time riding the train. The second train was a bullet train that went much faster. They have two floors and you are supposed to have assigned seats, but we always sat where we wanted and it was never a problem. I didn’t really like the bullet train because it went too fast. I think that if the first train we rode crashed we might survive, but if the bullet train were to crash, I’m pretty sure there is no chance we would survive! Hopefully, we won’t have the bullet train very much while we are here! From the train station in Marseille, we took a subway ride two stops to the Old Port where we were staying. The subway stop was right beside the port and we could see our apartment from it and it was about a 2 minute walk, which was really convenient.
We were staying at the Old Port, which was beautiful with all the boats and French style buildings. Every morning boats would pull up and sell the fish they had caught that day. Brooklyn would ask to look at the fish every time we went by. The view from our 3rd floor apartment was amazing and we could see all the boats in the port and we could even see the Notre Dame church on the hill. Our apartment was a very small French style apartment, but it had nice furniture and a comfortable bed so we were very happy. The bedroom and the bathroom were surprisingly big, but the kitchen was the smallest one I had ever seen. It was about 4 feet by 3 feet. The crazy thing is that they fit a fridge, cabinets, two stove burners, a microwave, a washing machine, and a small dishwasher under the sink! This apartment didn’t have an elevator so we had to walk up three flights of stairs, but it wasn’t too bad.
The day we arrived was rainy so we went to the History museum which ended up being closed. Closed!? Who closes the entire museum for a year? The French that’s who! Couldn’t they have left part of it open? On the way to the museum I learned that Marseille is sketchy with scary people that dress like they are from the Bronx, New York in the 80’s. If we had stayed anywhere but the port I would have been terrified! Michael laughs at me and says I scare too easily. The next day was a nice day and we walked up to the Notre Dame church that you could see from our apartment. The walk up there was quite a hike but it was nice to get some exercise after eating all the good foods we had been eating. The church was beautiful with tile work on the ceilings and beautiful paintings everywhere. You could walk all the way around the church and it was so beautiful to look down on the city, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Port. The next day was also a beautiful sunny day and we tried to find a boat tour to go see the Calanques, but they were all closed for the season. We ended up taking a public bus to the end of the line and hiking down to the Calanques. The hike down was pretty far and pretty treacherous and it was a good thing Chet was there to help carry Brooklyn down. There is no way Michael and I would have made it on our own. We finally made it down to the bottom and the girls hung out on the rocks and ate the rest of our lunches and the boys did dangerous boy stuff like climbing around all the rocks that had fallen. The hike back up was really hard and I wasn’t even carrying Brooklyn! We took some shortcuts back up where the rocks made some stairs so even though it was harder we made it up much faster. It would have been too dangerous for us to take those rocks/stairs down with Brooklyn so we had to take the long way down. After our exhausting hike we took a ferry boat ride to Chateau D’if, which is a prison that the movie “The Count of Monte Cristo” was based on. That is one of my favorite movies so I had to go and see the prison! Chateau D’if was neat, the cells were a little bigger than I thought they would be and they all had fireplaces. We had to catch the last ferry off of the island that Chateau D’if sits on and there were no warning bells or no one announcing the time, which surprised us a little. If they did that in the US, I’ll bet a bunch of people would have been left behind!
We ate some good food while in Marseille. We ate at Planet Sushi one night, which had better, more interesting sushi than Clermont-Ferrand. I got a bowl of vinegar rice with eel piled on top and Michael got a bowl of vinegar rice with raw tuna piled on top and we tried a few of the sushi rolls. They even let us get Brooklyn dinner from McDonalds, but had us put it on a fancy plate and we had to throw the bag away. We also ate at a seafood restaurant which was really good. Michael got some oysters and mussels and didn’t react to them this time so apparently he isn’t allergic anymore (he reacted to something on our cruise this past summer and had to get a shot in the bum!) He must have wanted some oysters really bad to chance it! His main dish was a fish we had never heard off and he had pineapple slices and cream for dessert. I got a goat cheese salad, the four fish soup Marseille is famous for, and pears and cream for dessert. For lunch one day, Ashley wanted to try the Quick fast food restaurant, which is like a McDonalds; it tastes almost exactly the same to me. Unfortunately, the cashier was really rude to them because they didn’t speak English, but that was the only incident like that, that they had. It really was an isolated incident because we haven’t had people be rude to us like everyone says the French can be. It has been the complete opposite, especially in Marseille. Every time we were in the train station and I needed to get Brooklyn down the stairs, men and women would help me pick up her stroller and take her down (Most escalators only go up). It was kind of a pleasant surprise because we don’t think that many people would have offered in the United States. All in all, we had a great trip and we were glad that Ashley and Chet were there with us too. It is always nice to travel with another couple and Brooklyn LOVED them! She called them “This one” and would pat Chet and say, “This one come with us too.” or “This one hold me now.” or she would yell “Ashy, come back over here.” if Ashley got too far away. She was just too cute and I love that she is becoming more outgoing! She was a joy to have on our vacation with us and was on her best behavior even when she missed naps. Except for the last night…she was delirious so we ordered sushi in and took her home. She probably didn’t want to sit through another boring adult dinner so decided she would act delirious to get to go back to the apartment. Well played Brooklyn. Well played.