Traveling is a desire that developed around my mid-teens. All of a sudden there was a lot to see and I wanted to see it! I moved away from home to go to university, and for four years Charlottetown, PEI was my home. I loved it. The endless beaches, the wind rippling through fields of long grass, imposing lighthouses guarding the red earthed coastline, winter waves frozen stiff into walls of ice, and everywhere the hint of salt water. I couldn’t ask for a better place to spend that part of my life, especially because that’s where I met my future husband! I’m returning to the gentle Island this summer and I’m so excited.
After finishing my undergraduate in English, Rob and I had to decide whether we were sticking the relationship out past university, and, if so, what we were going to do! I wanted to travel, he wanted to get his Masters. We agreed we would do both, but in which order? While thinking things over, and in a post-schooling motivated frame of mind, we went to Halifax to get certified for teaching English to speakers of other languages. It was there, camped out in a cramped and horribly ventilated motel room for a month, frying up sausages on a George Foreman next to our bed and sharing a dresser for a desk, that a plan formulated. Three months later, we were off to teach English in Korea.
Since then, we have visited 40-something countries together. Now, some people are travel snobs. They’re a bit like music snobs; “you like [insert popular artist here]!?!” and “what do you mean you’ve never heard of [insert obscure indy band here].” I am not a music snob. Mostly because I know very little about it. I either hear stuff and like it, or I hear it and I don’t like it. That’s about as far as my music knowledge goes. Travel snobs are a little different. They’re the people who hear that when you’ve been to Venice but haven’t lived there for a few months or more that you basically haven’t been to Venice. That’s their opinion and that’s just fine. It’s very true that staying in a place for four days won’t give you the same depth or breadth of an experience as staying there for a month, or living there for six years. That’s the nature of travel! But in my experience most people don’t usually have more than a few weeks a year to travel — if that. And whether they spend that time luxuriating in one place, or drinking in as many places as possible, is a very individual choice. We’ve done both, and they both have a lot to offer!
Anyhow, I’ve decided to instate “Travel Tuesdays” on this blog. It will give me a push to finally go through some travel pictures that are, for the most part, in a lump on my hard drive and haven’t been touched. Some of the photos for Travel Tuesday will be from as far back as 2003, when I had just gotten a digital camera – two whole megapixels!! Needless the say, the quality may vary ;)
This Tuesday for my intro post, I bring you Marseille, France.
Rob and I were there from September 8-10, 2008. We arrived disoriented after an impromptu sleeper car voyage several weeks into our European backpacking tour. Rather unprepared for this particular stop, we used our Lonely Planet guide to find a hostel. It turned out to be in the garage of a local resident. The sleeping “loft” was just high enough for me to lie down and raise my hands flat; I couldn’t stretch out. We slept on mattresses that touched, 12 of us up there. The company was great, though, and when we weren’t touring around the city we sat in the garage on plastic chairs with the diverse residents, playing cards and comparing cultures with our German, Swedish, and Australian bunkmates, many of whom were there to study at the university.
Our first stop was was to the old port, where we jumped on a ferry to the Chateau d’If. Yep, that’s the same Chateau d’If that was made famous in the Count of Monte Cristo.
One the second day we wandered around as much of Marseille as we could (it’s very, very steep!) and made our way to the Notre Dame Basilica, which looks over the city.
The Chateau d’If from the Basilica.The church was amazing. Here’s an excerpt from my travel journal, dated September 10th:
“Pope John Paul II visited the Basilisque de Notre Dame de la Guard before he was pope, and it recently underwent a huge renovation. It was stunning. It’s Roman-Byzantine in design; very colourful, and bright mosaiks all over. But what I really liked was the nautical theme. The mosaics almost all had water images, and there were model boats hanging from one of the central domes. There were also paintings and sketches of ships, and many others of Mary saving accident victimes (from storms, fire, train wrecks, etc). It seemed like these were done by the people of Marseilles and given to the church, because not all of them were good… some were clearly done by amateur artists. Also on the walls were marble plaques, probably from donations. But there were personal messages on them in French: Thank you, Mary, for the birth of my son; Thank you, Mary, for saving my husband during the submarine attack (dated June 18, 1918); Thank you, Notre Dame, for looking out for us during the cholera (dated 1860s). These, with the paintings and the ships, gave the basilica a very personal feeling, as though the town truly cared about the huge church on top of the mountain and the 9 tonne statue of the Virgin and Child looking over everyone.”
Marseille, as seen from the church.
Like all cities, there was much more to be explored in Marseille, but we only had a couple days. Still, we checked out the Palais Longchamp and wandered the streets. Close to the harbour there were some rough areas, and we kept out belongings close. But the sailors walked the same streets as the uber rich in their massive yachts. We bought baguettes and Bree from local markets along with a bottle of wine, and had ourselves a picnic, strolled through gardens and peered in shop windows. Like most of our travel, our stay was too short, but on September 11th we jumped on another train and made our way to Geneva, Switzerland.