A Travellerspoint blog

Khalid's Visit

On August 30th Ella’s Mum Diana arrived for a trip away with Ella for two weeks through France and Spain. The leaving party was eventful to say the least and many were left pondering the origins of their many bruises in the days that followed. Hayley remained at the Bog for the intervening time to work. If not already obvious by blatant word inventions, and despite the third person façade, Hayley is in fact the author of this wee blog and therefore cannot cover the time Ella spent away, though you may be treated to a first-hand account from the traveller herself. In mid September Hayley again took the horrid seven hour bus ride back to London to meet up with Khalid.

For Khalid, the first time Londonner, touristing the main sites was a must, which was achieved over three days. Staying in a room posh enough to have towels included and an automatic front door for the first time, Hayley was very happy, especially after walking through Hyde Park and finding the squillions of squirrels. On the list was a bus tour, which turned out to be a disaster once we lost the ticket, though we did manage to sneak onto the river cruise more than once by saying we were with that particular company (which shall remain unnamed for fear of advertising them). We took a London cab for the sake of taking a London cab, met up for dinner with Khalid’s cousin, tried to get on the London eye but were too late, and managed to see most of the things you might find on a postcard from the city.

Our next stop was one every little girl dreams of - a stay in a castle in the north of Germany. We flew into Dusseldorf and took multiple trains (more than actually required in fact, turns out Germans aren’t so clear on their ticket instructions) and a taxi to reach Wasserburg Anholt. Truly something out of a fairytale, we both fell into bed on arrival, pulled out the lemsip and box of tissues and spent most of our two days there sick with colds. Khalid of course, was struck down by the dreaded man-flu. Fortunately the castle had an incredible moat, drawbridge, turrets, garden and maze to explore and spend some non-tiring time outside. The meals were hard to describe, that good, and the breakfasts had so much choice we couldn’t resist but try it all. It was all so luxurious. Room service and a mini-bar for someone who had never had either before, and spent the a good part of the year in places with floors so dirty you can’t take your shoes off, it was one unforgettable experience.

After we checked out we had most of the day before we flew to Munich. Organised tourists that we are, we dropped our bags at the airport in Dusseldorf and took a train into town to have a look around. At the central station we got off, walked up one street. Walked back down that street. Got bored, and went back to the airport to wait. However, it’s highly likely that a tourist with a destination in mind might find Dusseldorf more stimulating. We landed in Munich that night, met up with Ella who had said goodbye to Diana that day and flown in from Spain, to meet up with Michael and Carmen – Hayley’s step-brother and step-sister-in-law. All three of us were to stay with Michael and Carmen for the week. A week which just so fortunately happened to fall during the infamous Oktoberfest.

On our first day in Munich Khalid and Hayley were just starting to feel better as Ella was desperately trying not to catch the remainder of our colds. The three of us spent the day wandering the centre of Munich, stalking guys and girls in lederhosen and drindels and starting to buy souvenirs and pretzels. We even managed to only get lost once.

The next day we had a slow start, intending to finish late, so we left for our first day at Oktoberfest at mid-afternoon. We caught the full view of the madness of Oktoberfest from the giant ferris wheel before setting out and hunting down some beer tents. Unfortunately our first pick turned out to be a wine tent. We stayed long enough for one drink (Khalid and Ella had the only beer on offer, Hayley tried a German cider) and headed off to the huge circus-like Hippodrome that had a capacity of over 3000 seats. We took up three of them long enough for Ella to make friends with an Italian man and the server guy, Hayley to sneak her mug into her handbag (it’s practically good manners) and Khalid to purchase the first ever ‘mass’ he drank from. Moving on again we found Michael in a beer garden for a drink, a pretzel and some lessons in Bavarian before finishing up the night and heading home.

Feeling a bit lazy, Hayley and Khalid had a day at ‘home’ watching DVD’s while Ella explored the town and her choice of museums. We headed out to dinner with Michael and Carmen at night. Fortunately we had our two German speakers to translate the entire menu for us and even tried the Bavarian tradition of a glass of coke and fanta. Which, incidentally, is not as bad as you might think.

The next day we had a proper breakfast out at a café with Michael and Carmen in preparation for a full day at Oktoberfest. Michael had a table reserved with his work in one of the big tents, and somehow (possibly our Kiwi charms) we managed to squeeze in with them. We sat, danced, sang German songs using made up words, drank beer, ate pretzels, practised ordering more drinks and eventually got up on the seats and danced on those too. Two guys provided a very special moment in the aisle next to us by re-enacting the jump-dance scene from Dirty Dancing. At the end of our session, we went to settle our bill and found it already paid for by Michael’s boss – why don’t the German’s have an amazing reputation for hospitality? We left the tent and began touring the festival. We played darts, went on various giant swings, roller coasters, spinny machines and bumper cars before Khalid had is camera stolen/lost from one of the bumper cars and we three headed home to watch a movie. Not the best way to end the day but this is where insurance comes in handy and having more than one camera throughout the day meant that we hadn’t lost all our photographic memories.

In the morning we all got into our black and whites and headed off to an Irish pub in central Munich to watch the rugby game between New Zealand and France. The pub was so packed in every room we managed to squeeze ourselves in down the back – hadn’t seen so many Kiwis since we left NZ. We met up with Michael’s French workmate (poor guy) at half time and enjoyed the atmosphere of a morning pub drinking session. Towards the end of the game the screen kept blacking out – hilarious for us slightly indifferent fans but torture for the true blokes and blokessess in the room. Khalid, Hayley and Ella went back to Oktoberfest to check if the camera had been handed in, and then into the police station to file a report as it hadn’t shown up in the bag of cameras, phones, wallets and sunglasses offered. We spent the afternoon in town picking up last minute souvenirs as this was our last day there. Just as we were about to leave, we spotted people at the top of a bell tower in the main square. Figuring the view would be worth the climb, we checked it out. We would later find a list on Stuff about other things to do in Munich, number eight of which was; “Take a hike. Well, not really. Burn those beer calories by climbing up the 306 steps of Munich's oldest church, St. Peter's (called Alter Peter), and bring your camera -- the summit holds some of the most memorable views of the city. “ We did, and they were. About 20 steps from the bottom, the well-worn stone steps and the well-worn flat soles of Hayley’s sandals resulted in a sprained ankle, a devastated Hayley and a painful limp home.

Separating again, Ella stayed behind as Hayley and Khalid left for the train station. Ella was to fly to Birmingham for a biomedical science conference for several days – again she may fill you all in, it honestly is more interesting than it sounds – while Hayley and Khalid flew on to Athens. With Khalid pulling and carrying both of our 20kg bags, we made it to the airport ok, and found a wheelchair to ease the stress. The lovely air hostess people and security people put us through first – an experience I can highly recommend. Unfortunately we got our first taste of the strikes in Athens while sitting on the runway in Munich for an hour and a half waiting for clearance at the receiving end. Hobbled off the plane and was offered another wheelchair, gratefully accepted and was wheeled by a security guard all the way to baggage claim. Luckily the trains were running that day in Athens and we made it to our 5 star hotel, only to be given a free upgrade to a superior room, a complimentary bottle of wine and a view of the Acropolis all pretty and lit up out the window. Even with an ankle the size of an eggplant and looking just as colourful, it really wasn’t a bad way to be.

Our first full day in Athens was Khalid’s birthday. We went out for souvlakis and when we returned a staff member delivered a bottle of champagne and mini cakes to the room to celebrate. All around the hotel and all over the news was evidence of the strikes in the city, causing a lot of traffic noise and honks and headaches for the traffic police. Instead of getting caught up in it, we spent the whole afternoon on the rooftop pool in the sun drinking our champagne, followed by cocktails and a sauna. We finished off the day with a gorgeous greek meal in a nearby restaurant with lots of tzatziki.

We spent the next couple of days in the sun by the pool, drinking and watching movies and blissfully unaware of the strikes and protests going on nine floors below. On our last day, when Hayley could almost walk normally, we headed to the Acropolis and soaked up the culture. We passed a lot of great souvenir shops but they would later be revisited with the shopping guru Ella.

In the morning we made our way to the new hostel to meet Ella, then all went down to drop Khalid off at the metro station, where Hayley did very well barely cried at all. Relatively. We’d been tourists in London, sick in a castle, beer-bellied in Munich and limping in Athens. May sound a little crazy but it was nothing short of a trip of a lifetime… inside another trip of a lifetime.

Posted by Trailblazn 12:28 Comments (0)

Life in the country

It’s been over a month and we are well and truly settled in. We know this because of the high levels of mocking going on – which is of course the only true indication of whether or not you have been accepted. It ranges from not being given a pen if we ask for one in our own accents, to being called illegal immigrants, or worse, Australians, by our lovely bosses. The customers ask us about our foreignness on an average of once per every single person we speak to as we are now working more and more shifts, and still getting asked if we are sisters on occasion. We’ve tried haggis, Yorkshire pudding and even Guinness with varying degrees of enjoyment, and even know a handful of locals by name. It’s Summer, despite the rain and visible breath on the colder nights, we have a wall where we stick our letters and cards from home, and as we plan the rest of our trip the months from October to January are starting to be filled with exciting place names like Germany, Turkey, Greece, Ireland, London and Paris. As the pub is closed for business on Monday lunch, several of the staff partake in an activity dubbed tequila Sundays. We play pool, darts, dominoes (and speed dominoes), mini-golf inside with pint glasses and golf driving outside in the dark until we lose all the balls. Despite the name, tequila hasn’t actually been involved since the first of these Sundays when one nameless staff member spent the night hanging over a toilet and somehow injured her hand so badly she has spent the last few weeks off work.

On our days where we find ourselves with some free time we occasionally hitch a ride into sweet wee Hexham. We can stock up on junk food and books from the market and charity shops to add to our library, from which Ella is reading her way through at an unnatural rate of one a day. We wander round and fail at trying not to spend all that we earn from slaving over piles of dishes and unpeeled potatoes.

On June 23rd (Hayley’s birthday) Ella started the day with a quick shift and Hayley got to sit in bed unwrapping much needed treats from home including pineapple lumps, vegemite and an icebreaker jersey. We had planned a trip into Newcastle to spend the day being tourists and checking out the local shopping. Unfortunately since we rely on others to get into Hexham, and a bus to get from there into Newcastle, we ran out of time to do the touristing part. It was raining anyway. Instead we got off the bus at the Metrocentre, which just so happens to be one of the biggest malls in Europe, full of colour-coded sections that are each as big as any single mall anywhere in NZ. We spent just about everything we had earned so far on heels, dresses, sneakers, food and various other non-essential but seriously needed items. We saw Bridesmaids in the theatre, which is not what you’d expect from the ad but still had us crying with laughter though most of the film. At midnight we caught the last bus home laden with bags and avoiding eye contact with the various pub dwellers heading home. Not long after a couple of young guys got on the bus, one of them thought it would be fun to push the button at every stop, but not get off. Not long after that, one of the older guys next to us had him on about it. Within minutes, the young guy was leaning inches over the older guys seat, screaming at him. Eventually the older guy got sick of it and suggested they depart the bus to do the manly thing and fight it out. The whole bus watched as we pulled over with both men standing at the front yelling at each other, shoving to be the bigger, manlier man. As they got off in the middle of nowhere, the younger guy already had a few hard punches in, and by the time we pulled away a second later, the older guy was on the ground in an alley with a crazy young guy kicking every part of him he could reach. Happy birthday, and welcome to Newcastle.

Posted by Trailblazn 07:53 Comments (0)

Carts Bog Inn

31st May - 6th June

On Monday morning we took a 20 minute train to a 7.5 hour bus ride to another hour bus ride to being picked up by car (the first car we’ve been in since that taxi in Slovenia) to get to our new home. We were very relieved as our bags were now so heavy that just pulling them along on their wheels was painful and we finally, finally got to unpack. We have had a job set up in this tiny pub out in the middle of nowhere in northern England for months, as fortunately Ella worked with our new boss here back in NZ . We are sharing a room where you have to duck to get through the doorway, sharing a bed where we kick each other all night, and living above the pub with our bosses and another waitress who works here. We had taken 1400 photos, give or take, in the last two months, travelled through ten countries and only used real washing machines once. It took us ten minutes to unpack our current life contents before having dinner and a drink.

In the first few days we settled in, meeting the staff and locals, checking out the nearest village Hexham (15mins drive away) which is very cute and very English. Once we had started to settle in we set about painting fences, helping out in the kitchen, and finally doing our first shift as waitresses/bar staff. This will be our life for the next three months. For Ella the sheep outside our window is very much like being home, and for Hayley there is wifi and the nearest major city Newcastle is a bit over an hour away, just in case. Everyone is very friendly, the accents are a little tricky but we’re getting there, and the pool table downstairs is going to be our road to epic pub skills. We will be spending our time here saving some funds for the rest of the trip, and deciding where we want to go next. We’ve been here a week already and while we may be splattered in paint, we are getting used to being in once place for more than a few days, and are looking forward to seeing some moles and more squirrels like the tourists that we still are.

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23-30th May

So we weren’t going to tell you all until we had done it but after the flight we spent our first night in London sleeping on seats at Gatwick airport. The plane wasn’t due to land until after 1am and we didn’t think it was worth the effort to book a hostel and find our way there in the middle of the night only to sleep a few hours – assuming the plane was on time. We also didn’t consider it worthwhile to turn up on some distant acquaintance’s doorstep in the middle of the night sheepishly asking for floor space. Alas, it is our OE, it had to happen at some point. It wasn’t too bad really, and in the morning we made it to our hostel-come-bar perfectly happy and looking very much like we had slept on the floor of an airport. We settled in and had a wander round the area, which turned out to have the national observatory and Greenwich meantime line, the maritime museum and a milkshake store which sold over 100 flavours of milkshake such as mars bar, jelly bean and aero. We raided the supermarket for dinner and already felt like we were going to like the place.

On our first day in Londontown we ventured out to tick off a few of the major attractions. The entire central city was crowded with scaffolding, fences and cranes – it was almost like being back in Christchurch with all the fixing and building and digging and roadworks – except this was all in the name of sprucing the city up in preparation for the Olympics in 2012. We climbed the on lions in Trafalgar Square, found Picadilly Circus almost by accident and finally found a Topshop. Topshop had us riding down the escalators with our jaws on the next step down. Unlike anything in New Zealand it was hard to know where to start and even harder to know when to stop. We each left with a bag in our hands and thought we were very restrained considering all the pretty things on offer. We giggled at the multitude of double decker red buses, telephone boxes that seem to exist just to let you know you’re in London, and black taxis with backwards doors. After a quick stop in Karen Millen to admire the artwork they call fashion we made it to Madam Tussauds for some serious posing faces and celebrity photos. The man operating the indoor ride gave us high fives for being Kiwi – the British are just cool like that. When we got to the ‘scary’ part where they had a Spookers type walk-through fright area we found ourselves at the front of the line (again) after a group of young males chickened out. We very bravely walked through the creepy maze with real life zombies and dangley spooky things holding hands the whole way. Unexpectedly, we walked out and looked at a display of the guillotine that was used to behead Marie-Antionette, just in case you were wondering whatever happened to it. We made it home for a traditional fish’n’chips with vinegar (they had nothing on the ones from home) and an interesting night talking to a man named Boris from Croatia who was the manager of a band (called the Sale of Joy – actually pretty good) yet who was staying in a budget youth hostel – possibly because he liked to creep out Kiwi travellers.

We got up the next day once again ready to face more touristing. We checked out the big ben, refused to pay entrance to Westminster Abbey and went a bit mad in the souvenir store instead. It was only the day after Obama had visited and apparently written the wrong date in the visitors book, so there were still a few protesters and uniforms around. We made it to Buckingham Palace early for the changing of the guard, so stood around turning pink under the rare London sunshine and had a chat with an officer on a horse who spotted us in the crowd and stopped to ask us where we were from and how our trip was going. His badge said Officer Pitt and he introduced his horse as ‘Intrepid’ and told us a bit about the selection training process. It was all very polite and British. After the marching and the photographs we walked back towards the centre of London, past a squirrel casually hanging out in the park (more photos) and in to find 10 Downing Street. It was all blocked off because of Obama’s visit, and as we were leaving we walked past Officer Pitt and Intrepid who had trotted into town, and acknowledged us with a wave and a smile. After a quick lunch we went to the Tower of London – which isn’t really much of a tower at all – to check out some more old stuff. We got to see a lot of very pretty diamonds and jewels in the old orbs and crowns of previous royals, as well as 2868 sparkling diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds in the Queen’s crown. As we were wandering the grounds a guard stopped us for another chat, asking about our trip, saying he hated us for being able to do it, and letting us go by wishing us a good visit to London. We later wished we had asked him for a photograph as he was wearing the full traditional guard uniform. We only indulged in a few souvenirs and headed home to try a jellybean milkshake, some pints of strongbow (yummy apple cider) at the pub and some good old-fashioned accent mocking with Canadians and Australians. It was definitely a good day to win the London sevens and pretend we really cared about it.

After a couple of hectic days we spent our last day at our hostel in Greenwich reading, walking around the area and visiting ‘the queens house’ that was built in 1616 and housed even more impeccably polite and helpful workers. Hayley finally lost the tiny key for the lock on her bag and had to have the padlock broken open with bolt cutters. Very sad to leave our lovely haven in Greenwich, we left with very heavy bags to find Kate and Pete’s – friends of Hayley’s boss who had offered a place to stay in exchange for some babysitting for their 19 month old daughter Freya. It took us two hours to get there, including the time it took to walk from the wrong train station to their house. Once we arrived we were treated to an amazing pasta dinner, with that green leafy stuff we hadn’t eaten in forever, and even a dessert. We had our own room with ensuite and felt like royalty.

With a suggestion from Kate we hit up two markets at Covent Garden and the famous Portobello Road. It’s hard to know why we ever shop anywhere else – they had everything. Absolutely everything. And all for ridiculously cheap prices. The place was dangerous for the last of our savings but very VERY fun. Unlike seedy Marseille, the men were much more polite. The first guy walked up to us and said he was about to kidnap us (only about a 3 on the creepy scale) to go and play pool in a nearby pub (at about 11am). The second followed us across the road and politely asked what we were up to incase we would like to stop for a drink (also in a pub). We ran away giggling like any mature adults would do on both occasions. We also bought ‘Oyster’ cards and felt like real life Londonners by swiping them to get on public transport instead of all the amateurs who had to buy tickets. That night we returned to Kate and Pete’s place for babysitting, by which we mean that Freya had already been put to bed, and was silent the whole time as we ate pizza and admired our new purchases.

On another recommendation from Kate we got on a bus that took us all the way south of London to Croydon to check out the holy grail of budget shopping that is Primark. Similar in size to Topshop and similar in price to the Warehouse only halved, we went absolutely crazy filling up a bag of goodies that we never intended to buy. To be fair, we did need some of the items at least (who can say no to seven pairs of socks for a pound?). That night we finally went to a real show at a real theatre like we had wanted to all along. As we had left the decision so late however all the Billy Elliots and Dirty Dancings were far too pricey for our of our shopping-bag-laden selves, so we compromised and went to a much less pricey or acclaimed show called ‘Naked Boys Singing’. Yes, they were naked. Yes, they were singing. There was even some dancing involved, and we hadn’t laughed that hard or giggled that much in the hours that followed in a long time. Not quite wanting to go home just yet, we visited Trafalgar Square, where hundreds of people had gathered to celebrate something to do with football. We later found out it was the final between Spain and England – still unsure of who won however, still indifferent also.

On our last day in London we had a very quiet day at Kate and Pete’s watching Harry Potter movies and packing all of our new purchases into our bags. We went down to a local pub for a Sunday roast and decided at the end of the year we would come back to London to live and work, we had absolutely loved it there, and this time, London actually loved us back.

Posted by Trailblazn 14:41 Comments (0)

Aix-en-Provence and Marseille

15th-22nd May

We left our once again noisy hostel for the bus station just a few minutes away to catch a bus for Aix-en-Provence. We had checked out the main station previously and found the bus we were looking for like the organised tourists that we are. Plus, with all the issues we had had with transport in Nice we didn’t want to leave it to chance. We turned up at the station thirty minutes early to find it closed, and with no sign showing where our bus would be stopping. We asked one bus driver who said we needed to be far, far away at some other stop, waiting for a bus that would be arriving in approximately two minutes time. Flag that. We’d had enough of busses and their useless ways. We’d had enough of noisy, useless hostels and carrying our bags up all the buildings in France without elevators. We’d had enough of being unwell with colds, sunburn and mysterious eye infections. We had loved Nice, but it really didn’t love us back. We went back to the train station instead, hoping to find a train leaving that day for Marseille, where it would be easier to get to Aix. Instead we found a train leaving directly for Aix, at a cheaper ticket price than the bus. Go figure. With our spare time and money we went to ‘Flunch’ for lunch – a Dennys-esque diner that we frequented while in France on a school trip in 2006. We can now report that absolutely nothing has changed – even the way they laugh at you for asking for your steak well cooked. We somehow dragged our bags through the streets of Aix-en-Provence a few hours later, up to the lift-less top floor (of course) of the new hotel. We immediately lay down on our double bed (it was bound to happen at some stage) and rested. It was a couple of hours later that we realised our tiny room with tiny ensuite bathroom had no door between the two. This was just night one of two we would have to enjoy this interesting new extravagance.

We spent our only full day in ‘Axe’ doing what we do best – eating, wandering and looking at souvenir stalls. We both bought giant tubs of strawberries at the fruit market and got lost in the streets eating them. There were a surprising number of tourists for such a pretty wee place, though perhaps they were all visiting the oldest café in Europe that we didn’t know about until after we had left. Probably walked right past it. Hayley’s eye was no longer scary to look at and it was our turn to be told to be quiet at 11pm because we were playing Glee episodes too loud.

Finding our way back to the train station we bought tickets in “parfait” French (thank you lovely ticket lady who spoke English anyway) for our next and last destination in France, Marseilles. Our hostel was another of these highly rated ones, and just a minute’s walk away from the train station, so we were already big fans. We were first to our dorm room of six beds so got to pick to the two beds up on a loft above the others. With two entire bathrooms (doors included) in the single dorm room this was easily one of the nicest places we have stayed. There were also free lollipops at reception. They really do know how to win us over. We left to explore the area, realising quickly that we were in a shadier part of town where women were near extinct and men gathered in doorways, cafes and on street corners to do absolutely nothing all day long except for discuss old man matters and watch lost tourists idle past. We found the marina at the heart of the city, which offered a pretty view and some pretty interesting smells wafting off the sea. We found our way home with very little difficulty considering Marseille is the second biggest city in France – no prizes for guessing the first – and had a quiet night enjoying our essentially private room.

At sometime during the wee hours of the morning two of the men in our room had a snore-off. Apparently Nice was just a warm up. Fortunately we managed a bit of a sleep in to make up for it. It was a sticky hot day so we grabbed a bus headed for one of the nicer beaches in Marseille, according to the man at reception. We found it by following some girls in bikinis – probably a little creepy but a good enough punt. In the car park area we were asked for cigarettes by a preschooler, France is really starting them young these days, though to be fair he may have actually been nine or ten. Suddenly, beach? Dotted amongst the rugged rocky shoreline there were patches of ‘fake beach’ that could’ve been mistaken for sandy car parks. We found a cosy possie on a less jagged patch of rock and managed not to get too sunburnt while lying in the sun this time around. Dinner was once again bought from the supermarket on the way home, though we treated ourselves to an award winning (3 Euro) bottle of rosé to share over some episodes of Grey’s Anatomy.

We dedicated our next day to the local area for some souvenir shopping, treat trying and wandering. We picked our way through the hordes of beggars, through the streets of the old town and along the waterfront before walking up the hill in some serious heat and sunshine to see the Notre-Dame de Garde. There are lots of churches in France but this one is particularly funky looking because of its zebra-like tiling patterns looking more art deco than anything built a casual few centuries ago. They had also left a lot of the bullet wounds up around the walls of the building from a battle there in the Second World War. It was a sticky trek uphill but the view was gorgeous and we had all afternoon to walk back down. When we did find our legs again to walk back home we passed by beggars who were moving from table to table at a restaurant shaking cups of coins at people. As pretty as Marseille is, it is not the place to enjoy a peaceful dinner outside.

Even though we had intended on checking out the ‘Calanques’ on Friday we had a look at the weather report and noted the pretty pictures of black puffs with blue pebbles falling out of them and decided to reschedule. Instead we relaxed at our cosy hostel reading all day. The only rumbles to be heard were those of our tummies as we ventured out into the sunshine under a clear blue sky for an assault on our favourite supermarket.

On Saturday we got up early – 8am – for a full day at the Calanques. A natural formation of inlets near Cassis around past the coast of Marseille and currently featuring on approximately fifty percent of all postcards sold in the region. We went to buy tickets for a bus and again ended up buying some for the trains, once again due to the fact that busses are useless and trains are amazing. With a bit of time to spare we went back to the hostel for a proper bread and jam breakfast buffet, with both of us returning for seconds and indulging in thirds of coffee. From the train we took a shuttle into Cassis to find yet another pretty little place full of terracotta playhouses and minty green shutters. We spent only a little time looking along the main street before checking out the boats that visited some of the Calanques. Within minutes we were climbing aboard a little vessel with a handful of other tourists and a guide who we couldn’t understand in either French or English. We visited three of these perfectly green-blue clear watered beaches, getting very snap happy along the way before being dropped back off into the village. After souvenirs came ice cream, and after ice cream came an afternoon in the surf and in the sun. We were much more careful with our sunscreen application than in Nice, yet after a few hours of exhausting time spent lying in the sunshine we were certain that it would be still winning somehow. We caught the shuttle bus back to the train station, where of course, since the bus was late by several minutes, we had to wait another hour for hour train. It’s a good thing after three years of university each we had both learned the meticulous art of time wasting. It wasn’t long before our train took us back to Marseille, and our feet carried us to our supermarket once again for some serious spending on goodies for dinner. It was our last night in our loft, we’d blown the budget and due to a 95% accurate sunscreen application we ended up looking a little like crosses of leopards and zebras with splotches and stripes of pink in odd areas. It was on many accounts, a perfect last day in France.

Marseille is seriously hot all year around and on our last night a girl tried to suffocate us by closing the windows. Seriously, and unfortunately, some people are just born idiots and we can only hope we are not forced into cohabitation with this strange breed. Waking up to sweat and heat at 3am was not ideal and violently wrenching the windows open again was probably a far too passive-aggressive approach. Morning came and we packed our bags, left them at the hostel and went for a final walk around the town. When we were accosted by coin-in-cup shaking beggars on the main street we told them we were hungry too and went to find some lunch. Later another woman approached us asking for money with her child in tow, crying about her baby and asking for money. Hayley offered a piece of the plain baguette she was eating only to have her continue asking for money. We glared at her and she took the baguette. We wasted away the rest of the day back at the hostel using their wifi to watch movies and tv shows. At 7pm we pulled our bags out in the hostel kitchen, changed into jeans and brushed our teeth before heading out into the big wide world again for our next adventure.

Posted by Trailblazn 04:25 Comments (0)

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