Wednesday, September 3, 2008

France Parts I and II

Bonjour from France! We are in Marseille which is in the South of France, on the Mediterranean. We were planning on heading to Switzerland as I mentioned, but after Jeff and Claudia told Jon that wouldn't be all that awesome we changed our plans and took 8 hours worth of train rides to get here.

We arrived just before 9pm and it was dark and for the second time we had a cab driver tell us that our hotel was too close to drive to. Of course, while walking with our backpacks and our retardedly heavy carry-ons it didn't FEEL too close.
Well...Walking through any city after dark can be a little ghetto I MEAN interesting. At first we weren't sure what to make of it but after checking into our hotel room (and after a few minutes of soul searching) we put on happy faces and headed out for some grub. We went to a fast good place called NADO. The girl behind the counter did not speak English (duh, we are in France) and so when she short changed Jon by 10 Euros (about $15) it was difficult to explain.

I am comfortable saying a few things in French...Hello. How are you? Do you speak English? But if whoever I am speaking with says no to the last question, there is really no back up plan. Luckily Jon is very good at the hand signals. For some reason my brain just defaults to Spanish. When we were trying to explain that Jon had given the girl at the register 20 Euros my mind just kept saying VEINTE! VEINTE! Juanito held up two fingers and then the universal sign for zero and things seemed to work themselves out. Although...for some reason the solution involved both the girl and the manager of the place going into their own wallets.

We took our NADO burgers and our NADO fries back to our hotel room and ate there. I'm not sure what we were expecting but the food wasn't amazing and the name of the restaurant lent itself to such jokes as:
Oh, this burger is NADO so good.
This is NADO my favorite.

Something you may not know about Marseille is that it has a very large North African population. There is a very obvious North African influence on the entire city culture. When we went out every corner was filled with large groups of men and the all of the women we saw were well covered. Jon, Ever the closet conservative, suggested perhaps I might want to wear something a little less "form fitting" and unfortunately, I informed him, I left my dashiki back in the states. So I settled for a black hooded sweatshirt that covered my hair line.

Tomorrow we may see what it will take to keep this party moving along. Perhaps Nice?

Stay tuned!

***France Part II***

Au Revoir from Marseille!

So, I guess you could say that Jon and I place considerable stock in first impressions.

Aside from the aforementioned late night walk and NADO so delicious food- we were unfortunate enough to be neighboring with a couple that was having a very frightening domestic dispute. When we woke up this morning we had one thing on our minds: Departure.

The logical part of us said "work it out, see what happens, we may end up loving Marseille". But the impulsive part (which, incidentally is much more dominant) said "Dudes: Get the hell out of Dodge."

So right now we are in the Marseille train station awaiting our train to Nice, France which should be a little bit closer to that French Riviera ideal. We did have a few minutes of frustration- dripping in sweat and walking the distance to and from the train station and attempting to communicate with the locals. I was lucky enough to be assisted by a young man at the ticket office that spoke slightly more English than my French and now our trip is back on track.

My next entry will probably be from Florence Italy- Hope everyone is having a great week- Ciao for now!