Our first impression of Marseille, France, was not the best, but by morning all had changed. You see, we arrived later than planned, and the amount of sun really threw off our personal clocks. So while we thought it was maybe 6:00 pm it was really closer to 9. Once we checked into our adorable hotel, I went on a walk to pick up a small bite for dinner. The sun was in full force and it seemed odd that so many street and night people were out. Frankly it made me uncomfortable. Once I realized the actual time it made a bit more sense to me, I grabbed our snack and headed back to the hotel. Not really a good impression. But the next morning we headed out for a walk and to find breakfast and things felt much better.
Our morning stroll along the old port was relaxing after the previous day of stress and travel. Without the stroller, Brock did OK—he walked some but mostly rode on our backs and shoulders. Our hotel was a few blocks back from the waterfront, so on our walk we were able to see a bit behind the waterfront. We saw the Chamber of Commerce, the Opera, and many peaceful bars and restaurants closed up from a long evening.
The old port was quite small, but filled with small private ships. At the end of the port was a large ferris wheel and a flat metal piece of art that reflected the water beautifully.
We found a little bakery and bought a whole bag of treats for breakfast. My favorite was the jam filled madeleines. Brock opted for a chocolate chip baguette which he looked quite natural eating on our hotel room balcony.
At this point we still had a few hours before we needed to head to the cruise ship port so we checked our bags with the hotel and headed out for our long journey to the Notre-Dame de la Garde (literally Our Lady of the Guard), a Catholic basilica a top of the city. We saw it on our walk, and a quick search on travel sites said that it was a must see while in Marseille, so up we went.
We knew it would be a trek, but at this point, every place we visit seems to have a trek up a mountain so no biggie, right? Wrong. The church sits 489 feet above the old port… which isn’t terrible. What is terrible is not having the stroller. Brock was getting tired for an early nap that day and only wanted to be carried by me. Not Fil. A little over halfway up I gave up. I couldn’t carry him anymore. Right about then we had reached the staircase which would take us pretty much the rest of the way. Brock wouldn’t let Fil carry him, and I said “no” so he ended up chasing me up the stairs crying the whole way. With no exaggeration, an elderly woman came out of her house to see what the commotion was. When we reached the top, this was his grumpy face:
He calmed down, and was back to normal chasing pigeons in no time, but we were definitely ready to start the fun part of vacation! Luck had it, as we looked out above the city and sea we saw our ship sailing into port to pick us up!
We hung out for a while just basking in the sun and views and then decided if we had climbed all this way we should see the inside of the church. I am so glad we did! This church was unlike any of the many others we have visited in our travels. The inside was adorned with stunning mosaics that simply glistened, and also military and naval artifacts. Hanging from the ceiling like chandeliers were wooden ship replicas and covering the side walls were frames with military flags, lifesaving buoys, awards, and medals. I cannot tell you how many churches we have visited, and these military medals were a first for us. It made the church feel like more of a vigil to sailors who were lost.
Our climb down the mountain was almost as strenuous, and I carried Brock the whole way. Once we got back to the hotel, the host called a cab for us and before I had him fully buckled in Brock was already asleep. We were glad to be on our way aboard the Splendida! Next stop, Genoa, Italy!