Sometimes it’s not where you are, or what you do, it’s who you’re with

For all our grand travel plans and excitement, this weekend proved a bit of a surprise. Don’t get me wrong, being visited by friends during our trip was always something I had looked forward to, but what I didn’t realise was just how good it would be, and funnily enough, what sounds like a rubbish fail of a rainy day was actually one of my favourites so far.

Our day began with a shower queue and trip to the bakery for delicious breakfast treats. It is one of the two best bakeries so far on our trip, the other being in Arles. This one has at least 15 or 20 different types of individual dessert cakes, a separate cabinet for breakfast pastry items, delicious soft, airy baguettes that are a little doughey inside and this morning, also the weekend selection of big cakes. Imagine large fruit tartlets topped with all sorts of local and exotic fruits- from strawberries to kiwi to dragon fruit, it’s all on there, glossy green mint mouse cake topped with swirls of chocolate, gateaux with thick cream piped all around it and pretty fruits on top and loads more. Not to mention an extensive quiche selection, foot long bread filled with lardons and cheese or olives and fougasse, a pretty shaped bread with cheese and olives all over it. We’re spoilt for choice and it takes us ages to decide, meanwhile a continuous flow of locals come through for their baguettes and other treats.

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We head back to the house, discovering that Eliza had fallen asleep in Carol’s arms while we were choosing our breakfast treats, so decide to play a game of Pandemic (a co-orperative board game we’ve brought with us and a firm favourite with Carol and Nella) while she naps. A quiche, two chocolate swirls, a slice of pineapple topped flan and three (lost) games of Pandemic later, Eliza has finished her nap and we’ve realised it’s nearly lunchtime.

We decide to head into Marseille on the bus, partly because parking will be awful and mostly to see whether Zaza tolerates the bus any better than the car (our theory is she will as she can be held). Rain is forecast all day so this is Eliza’s first go at a waterproof coat, she hates it. We leave the house, jumping a mile as usual as we pass the two guard dogs barking their heads off at us opposite, and down to the bus stop- the rain thickens.  It turns out it’s a bus and then the metro (underground) to the Old Port, where I’ve read and been reliably advised (thanks Florie) that it’s pretty and there’s plenty of lively restaurants all around it. Our plan is to head there first for lunch and then explore Panier, the old, traditional district and then consider the other options recommended.

The bus takes us on a tour of fairly ugly inner city streets, high rise flats, rubbish strewn about in places, lots of shut up shops and all round it’s not looking too appealing. I’m feeling hopeful though as I step out into the Old Port area, a massive harbour full of private sailing boats. Immediately we’re greeted by the sound of brass instruments playing quite fun, upbeat music ahead of us. As we get closer, there are people in bright random costumes and hand-written posters strung up on a string like a washing line with some sort of political message to it. It all seems quite fun and makes me wonder how lively the city is during summer festivals.

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We press on through the rain to find a restaurant and fairly quickly settle for one down a side street with a set menu in French and English, meeting our minimum requirements of; must include boullibaise (the local specialty I’m keen to try here), mussels (for Nella) and be fairly reasonably priced. Turns out we weren’t too lucky and the food is mediocre at best. I’m left reminiscing about the amazing Boullibaise I once had at a restaurant called Roxy in Lido, Venice (it was a spontaneous choice, the name enticing us as it’s the name of our cat), though the starters were pretty nice.

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We’d hoped the rain may have eased off a little while we ate. Sadly not and after a quick peek at the sailing boats we decide to call it a day and head back to the house for more Pandemic.

On an aside, our theory did prove true, Eliza does like the bus and metro, or rather, Eliza does like to sleep on the bus and the metro- pretty much whole journey there and whole journey back, as deeply as possible, all cute and floppy on my lap.

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It took 7 games of Pandemic for us to finally claim a victory and it got pretty tense- so much so I had to take Eliza in another room for a relaxing lay down at one point as she was getting all het up by it. We then moved on to ‘tiles’, a homemade version of Bananagrams. Carol is my favourite at this- it was her first time playing and to combat the mental blanks she was sometimes having with re-shuffling all the words, she came up with some creative alternatives.

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My favourite ‘goatz- you know, like, gangsta goats’ and then, while taking a turn with Eliza, decided to award extra points for dirty words- Marie won hands down on that round. Somehow it was 8pm before we knew it so time for dinner. We’d been tempted by the bakery quiches so had some for dinner, alongside one of those lovely baguettes, some salad and some drieid sausage and cheese nibbles from our market trip earlier in the week. Eliza had an evening with sleep interspersed with play times with Nella especially entertaining her with a full range of nursery rhymes and songs, complete with tickly actions. Eliza responded by treating us to lots of smiles, some laughter and a full range of noises…until she was thoroughly worn out and ready for sleeps again.

All in all a great day, strangely like being at home hanging out with these guys (they’re our housemates) only with better food and pretty unusual sleeping quarters. About those- we have a corrugated iron ceiling, a faux grass floor and a single bed with another single pull out bed underneath it so we’re sleeping separately on two levels. To add to this experience, the extremely noisy boiler that is right next door to our room sets off at random through the night, thoroughly waking me up on each occasion and making us feel like we’re on a ferry. Guess it’s providing good white noise for Zaza though as she seems quite happy with it!

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All in all I think this weekend has shown me that my life back home isn’t half bad and my housemates are great.

 

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