I was barely home from Netherlands before I started packing for the France trip. The trip was brutal, everything was late. The bus system here is awful, it was an hour late, then the train was 45 minutes late. Granted, there was a lot of snow the day before, but I didn’t expect the whole damn city to shut down. On the way to Brussels airport the train stopped at Brussels south station, and stopped for good. It was an hour before my flight, so I had to desperately grab a 50 euro taxi ride to the airport, and I got to the gate just as it started boarding. A note about the Brussels airport…no need to go to the gym the day of your flight. The walk to the gates has to be the longest I’ve ever seen, even worse than Frankfurt and Dubai. I grabbed my connecting flight through Lyon, then arrived in Marseille, and was at the hotel (after a 60 euro taxi ride from the airport) by 5:00. Right away I decided to de-stress by going for a run…great idea, it was one of the most beautiful runs I’ve ever had. I ran right along the water, and the views were incredible.
After 7 miles I finally decided to stop, and head out for dinner. I was able to eat and watch the Arsenal vs. Bayern-Munich Champions League match. Not sure what the hell got into Arsenal, but they pulled off the 2-0 upset. I had meetings the next two days, fascinating stuff on disease surveillance but I won’t bore the travel blog with the details. The wind in Marseille was incredible, speeds reached about 140 km/hr. They call it the ‘mistral’ here, I guess it happens on the Riviera a lot. I tried to go running the 2nd day and was nearly blown into a telephone pole. We had a great French dinner with the CESPA team, thanks again for the French hospitality. I even had a great dinner conversation about Woody Allen films, he really is big in France!
The people we met with were able to give me great directions to Cassis, my next destination. That speaks to the best thing about Marseille – location! The city itself is gritty and somewhat dangerous, but it has a major airport and is within two hours of Provence, as well as all the sites on the French Riviera.