Enjoying a wind down (and wine-down) in Marseille France

the-view-from-notre-dame-in-marseille-france-1It is hard to follow up a day in Barcelona so the only way to do it well is to offer something completely different so instead of the busy city pace, the quaint slower vibe of Marseille in Provence, France was the perfect complement.  At day 6 of a 7 day cruise I am all toured out and so I decide to hop off and just make the most of what I can.  This of course means a walking tour if you are me.  The ship offered a very convenient round trip bus to the port so you are dropped off right in the middle of town and ready to take on a little adventure.

an-open-market-in-marseille-france-8 marseille-france-9 marseille-france-7The Old Port area is a hot spot for shops and food in the city and easy way to start off or even enjoy your whole day.  I love local vendors and was able to find a great open air market with lots of souvenirs that felt very French (at least to me).  The seascape is also beautiful so as I passed a little train I decided to take off and find out where the train can take me.  There is where speaking a little of the language comes in handy.  After dragging my kids up and down the marina with no access to the castle that initially looked very close I decided a can would do as well.  Great decision!  The city is full of increasingly steep streets and hills so if you are going to take on the challenge of the on foot route make sure you are ready for the climb.

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marseille-france-6 marseille-france-12 marseille-france-11 the-ceiling-in-notre-dame-in-marseille-france-3Once in the cab we head to the top of the hill to visit Norte Dame de la Garde.  While the church is beautiful the view is amazing.  You can see the whole city from the top and with the lovely sea breeze coming your way it is a great place for reflection and prayer.  Just note, however, getting a cab down is much harder than catching a cab up as you have to call a local company to send a cab your way.  Never fear, however, because you can take the land train down.  The ride is steep but lots of fun and a good way to spot some things you want to add to your visit list while in town.

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desert-trio-in-the-old-port-area-of-marseille-france-16 lunch-in-the-old-port-area-in-marseille-france-13 lunch-in-the-old-port-area-in-marseille-france-15With that the tourist check was marked for me for Marseille and so next up was tackling my food cravings. With the old port surrounded by restaurants the choice was if but which.  A Tripadvisor recommendation caught my eye and we settled down at a lovely Italian restaurant right on the water.  It was some of the best food I had the whole trip and as I enjoyed my bottle of very French wine I reflected on what was undeniably a trip of a lifetime!

My one day Roman Holiday: A one day tour of Rome

Roman Holiday (6) If you have thought about traveling to Italy chances are that Roma is on your list. Rome tops the list because all in one city you have the option to get swept away in an ancient capital, marvel at the artistic inspiration, seek peace at the Vatican and still enjoy the hustle and bustle of a modern city.  My decision to go on a Mediterrean tour was based in part with my desire to get a taste of Italy and Rome being the juiciest bite on my planned tour.

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While being able to see several cities is one of the major draws of a tour, it is also is hard to limit everything you want to see in a city as amazing as Rome into one day. In order to give it my college try I decided to take a full day tour to see the city.  The first challenge: the commute.  With a port in Civiccehi, we had about an hours drive to get to Rome.  On the bright side though, our tour actually had two guides, one just specifically for Rome, giving us all day coverage with a tour guide and in-depth info regarding just Rome.  While tour guides are full of information, sometimes maybe a little too much information, I think they also have the best glimpse at things you may love about the city, even after the tour is over.  They know things to skip and things you can’t miss so make sure to pick your tour guides brain to get some intel.  Once we arrive in Rome, the first stop was the Colosseum.  It is truly a marvel to see this magnificent building and understanding that you are getting just a glimpse into how majestic it was in its days of glory.  This was one of my favorite parts of the tour because not only did we get some great information that gave a real mental image on the building and its visitors hundreds of years ago, you also got to skip a really, really long line with your tour guide.

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Next up was a walking tour. Rome is a really big modern city smooshed inside a really old ancient city so there are things and people everywhere.  Any time I travel, especially overseas, I enjoy walking the most.  It gives you the best chance to see what it is really like to live there and how the residents live their lives.  On top of that you run into things that you never get to see and feel with just a drive by.  Our walking tour lead us to several sites pretty quickly with one of my favorites being the Trive fountain.  Many of these spots are packed with tourist but that doesn’t stop them from being breathtaking all the same.

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We ended our day at the Vatican City. I walked in with hopes of getting some holy water for my grandmother but with the tour running behind we were unable to go inside.  My suggestion on this part would be not to be afraid to ask them for their time schedule and not to be afraid to do your own thing if it’s something you really want to see or do.  I could have skipped all the info and just went directly to line at the St. Peter’s square but I was being what I thought was polite.  When you are putting once in a life time visits under your belt sometimes you just have to ask for what you want and try your damnest to make it happen.  It won’t always work but you never know until you try.  All in all I had a fabulous day and almost thought of staying and joining my new friend in his one man accordion performance of “Oh when the Saints come marching in.  Atlas I hopped back on the bus with my mind blow of just what could be done over 2,000 years ago by man – MIND BLOWN

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