This time around, the train wasn't until 11 am, so we took it easy. After a hectic day touring Paris, we had a nice sleep, got up warmly (still relatively early), ate filling breakfast and braced ourselves for our next destination. Again, didn't know what to expect, but excited nonetheless. Marseilles was beautiful, it was what I call a tasty place - and as you guessed - it along with Cassis served up as my sense of taste.
So, where do I even begin? The minute we popped ourselves out from the metro station like 2 nicely toasted loaves of bread, the saline air sprinkled like crystals on my tongue and I could tell I was by a port. But, what a port! The most amazing confluence of ships, humans and buildings that one could ever imagine. Our excitement had found a solid footing. I looked over at Kartik and I could see how happy he was to be on this wonderful tip of France.
We checked in (again got lucky with out hotel location), freshened up a bit, had some tea and snacks and set ourselves on the mission of getting to know the place a bit more. Our first attraction to see was Notre Dame church, which was located on the highest peak of the mountain that overlooks the entire city...what a breathtaking view! After we came back, we went on a foot tour of exploring the older part of the town: Cathedrale de la Major, Palais de Longchamp, Porte d'Aix..we walked and walked until we could walk no more. But, the energy was still alive, and it saw us through our way back. I could almost taste the rawness of the port, and what it meant to be in a place so old and so historic. I would just like to quote Wikipedia on this "Humans have inhabited Marseille and its environs for almost 30,000 years: palaeolithic cave paintings in the underwater Cosquer cave near the calanqueof Morgiou date back to between 27,000 and 19,000 BC; and very recent excavations near the railway station have unearthed neolithic brick habitations from around 6,000 BC " I guess its pretty clear.
The next day we prepped ourselves to see the Calanques of Cassis (45 minutes away from Marseille by train), and boy was that some adventure. When we reached the station, there was no shuttle or bus or taxi to the city. But one lady who spoke a little English heard our plight, and was so nice that she helped us out and even dropped us at the Calanques trekking site inspite of the fact that she was getting late for an appointment.(Benedicte, if you ever read this, this is a special shout out to you -- thank you for saving our day and for being so generous with your time. We truly, and I mean truly, appreciate it. If ever in New York, you know who your tour guides will be :o) )
We started the uphill climb, and as we turned the corner, my heart skipped a beat, like literally! The vision before me was dream like and I couldn't believe I was in the midst of this grandeur. The blue-green water spread out in front of us like a fancy silk bedcover and the calanques (limestone valley with steep sides) bordered the water like a grand marble wall. I kept thanking Ganeshji for bringing me to such a beautiful corner of the world with the man I loved most in my life...it was just perfect!!
While trekking back to the city, we came across a small beach, and I just had to take a dip...as if this blue green liquid was holy water that would rid me of my sins :) I swimmed with my eyes open under the water and just reveled in the joy...yes, even the salt in the water tasted sweeter : ) Again, we could not find a taxi or bus or shuttle and had to walk back 4 km to the train station...oh, we were so burnt and tired and lost, but somehow made it and screamed with insane relief when we saw the station. Oh, and we ate an orange at the station to celebrate our sweet success of making it back!
To sum it all up...both Marseille and Cassis were visually breathtaking, but its the taste of their history, of their seafood and of our adventure that I took with me.
ps. Due to some technical issues, can't upload the pics now. Will definitely do so tomorrow....
***UPDATE: Marseille and Cassis pictures for you to enjoy:
Marseille's Notre Dame Church that overlooks the city
Kartik by one of the oldest Church by Vieux Port
Marseille - Vieux Port (just lovely)
Calanques at Cassis
The tranquil waters and jagged edges - perfect harmony