Part 3 - Marseille
The South of France greeted us with great weather and sunshine. The morning sun bathed the coast in a warm beautiful light, and not too far away we could already see "Notre Dame de la Garde”, the church overlooking the old port of Marseille from high above.
We had plenty of time. After our usual morning routine at the gym, we braced ourselves with an abundant breakfast at the Windjammer Café. A firefighting plane gave us a little performance rehearsing touch-and-go landings on the water right next to us in the narrow remaining strip of the dock. A few times in a row it came in to take on water to immediately get started again. Just when I was ready to take a photo, it got down to business…
Later in the morning we disembarked and grabbed a taxi to the “Vieux Port”, the Old Port of Marseille. One note on this: The daily Cruise Compass, which we found on our beds the night before, explained that we’d be docking outside Marseille, which we already knew. But it also said that it would be “extremely” difficult to catch a taxi and that the ride to Marseille could take over an hour. The whole situation was portrayed in quite a dissuasive manner over several lines and ended on the note that a shuttle boat had been set up for the guests, offering them a pleasant way to reach the old port for only $25.00 per person. Little rascals! At the taxi stand we immediately got a cab. As opposed to the entrance to the shuttle boat, there wasn’t a long queue, and within 25 minutes we were in Marseille - for EUR 22.00 for the four of us.
Right next to the taxi stand we found the “Petit Train” (Little Train) stop.
For EUR 8.00 and 7.00 respectively, the train offers two different routes: one along the coast all the way up to Notre Dame de la Garde, the other through the old town. When we planned this trip, we had already decided that this train would be the easiest way for Hildegard to climb the hill to the church. At first, the tour goes past the Old Port and the fish market. Via speakers, explanations in various languages are given on the sights by the wayside.
The Petit Train then leaves the Old Port and follows a stretch of the coastal road. From there, you get a nice view of Chateau d’If, which gained its fame from Alexandre Dumas’s novel “The Count of Monte Cristo”.
Next, it climbs the hill through a residential area towards the “Good Mother”, as the church of Notre Dame de la Garde is also called.
At the parking lot below the church you leave the train and have time to look around on your own. Approximately every 20 minutes there is a train which you can board to go back. To the church itself, you need to climb a few more steps.
The interior of the church is richly ornamented, and the walls are decorated with numerous paintings displaying maritime motives.
Most spectacular, though, is the view of Marseille and its surroundings.
We even saw our Liberty in the far distance, behind which the Oceania Nautica seemed like a toy boat.
This little fellow enjoys the view every day and calls for silence.
We took the next train back to the port and strolled along the promenade.
On this first day, we didn’t want our fellow travelers to overdo it and enjoyed an ice cream in a café by the promenade.
An image on the menu heralded from ancient times.
Soon afterwards we found ourselves another taxi which took us back to the ship, again for some EUR 20.00. Back on board and tired from the impressions of this first day, my in-lawas went for a nap. In the evening we knocked on their door and picked them up for dinner. After all, the beautiful dining room wasn’t just to be looked at… We got a nice table in the MyTime Dining area.
We had a nice table waiter and a very cordial assistant, both of whom sweetened our evening. The friendly service impressed Helmut and Hildegard just as much as the nice atmosphere and the excellent food. To end this successful first day we went to the Viking Crown Lounge and were happy that the boisterous mood of our parents seemed to be the result of a good start.
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