France ~ Aix En Provence and Marseille

Hello peeps, before I continue with the story of my trip in France, let me just begin with normal life first. Well actually I'm not gonna talk much about this week. Yesterday I had Indonesian lunch with La Gioia, YeeMaggio, and NanSee. I kinda forced these non-Indonesians to have Indonesian food just because I hadn't eaten Indonesian food for almost a month. I think since before I left for my trip. Lunch was at Tambuah Mas and it was really really good (at least for me), the fried chicken wasn't its strong suit though. After lunch we went to watch Kung Fu Panda 2. I actually wasn't so keen in watching anything in 3D anymore but La Gioia seemed to be more interested in watching it in 3D, so we did and I have to say that it was a good choice. I think the 3D effect was nicely used and overall I think the movie was really really good. I think it's even better than the first one and it's rare for a sequel to be better than the first movie. I think the story has more weight in it (can I use the word 'weight' to describe the story?) and also I love it because the cinematography is beautiful. As for the characters, I think Po the panda is showing more and more of Jack Black's mannerism in its movement. His vocabulary is also definitely one that comes from Jack Black. The bad guy this time around is a peacock and I think he's really cool when he spreads his wings. I think it's very clever of the people in Dreamworks to make full use of the characteristics of each animals. I think it's also very clever of the writers not to show Po to be extremely amazing in his kungfu, instead they showed him relying on his friends a lot in each fight. I guess the part where I was perhaps rather disatisfied was when he was shown to be able to master moving a water drop easily, but I suppose it's a movie afterall. Oh yeah I have to add, Po called his teacher Master Shifu, it's actually redundant! :D Well, it's been 2 pretty good movies in the past 2 weeks. Next week is when Hangover 2 comes out. I really hope it's not gonna be so bad. So far the summer blockbuster movies have been pretty good for me, looking forward for more :)

Now let's talk about the trip. So after 2 nights in Avignon, we moved to Marseille. We didn't miss the train this time around :) It helps when your hotel is just next door to the train station. Actually Marseille wasn't in the early plan. I planned to just stay in Paris and Avignon while we're in France. However I made the mistake of not reading the day tours that I wanted to take correctly and so we kinda run out of ideas on what to do in Avignon. I was looking around at other cities in the south of France and somehow Marseille was chosen. I actually kinda forget why this city was chosen after all the other cities. I guess because it allows us to keep our schedule in going to Barcelona and though it's far from Nice, it allows us to arrive in Nice just in time for a day tour that I wanted to take in Nice. It's rather a crazy story which I will tell you more in the next post. I turns out I need to write another post to finish my story about my time in France.

Okay let's go back to Marseille. We arrived, put our bags in the hotel, and instead of exploring Marseille, we went straight to Aix en Provence. Since I didn't plan to stay in Marseille, I didn't read up or plan much about exploring the city. I instead read about Aix en Provence and I did hear about this city from LM who stayed there during her holiday last year. So I thought it's a nice city and so we took the bus there. When we got off the bus, we're actually a little confused about where to go and we met a young South Korean girl as we were looking at the map. Her name was Wang Yong (I think that's how you spell it) and she's studying in Bath, England currently. She was alone spending her easter holiday in the south of France. I thought it's pretty brave of her, being 22 and all and alone, and not speaking the language. By the way, she went to the Buckingham Palace with her friends to see the kiss during the wedding day. Anyway, we found the center of the town, went to the tourism office, got a map, and started walking. I didn't feel much for this city. It was bigger than Avignon and I didn't feel it to be pretty charming. Our first stop was a bakery which was amazing. Every single thing there was amazing! I love it! I got some calisson. I think Aix end Provence is its birth place. People are raving about it, including the uncle I talked to in Paris, but I'm not really a big fan of it. It's not as extremely amazing as I expected it to be. Well maybe it's just me. So anyway, Aix en Provence is Cézanne's hometown. The map I had shows many places related to his life. We ended up visiting the Granet Musesum but I don't recall we saw much of his works there. I remember seeing a work from Picasso though. It is a small museum. Then we walked around and I was not impressed with the town. We ended up in Vendome Pavilion, the small garden was pretty nice, we didn't go inside the building though.

This is where I decided to just go back to Marseille and see what Marseille has to offer and so we parted ways with the South Korean girl. Meeting someone her age often makes me realize how old I am and it gets me feeling rather like the older sister or something that I really hope she'll be alright in her trip and nothing bad happens to her. Anyway, I have only few pictures of Aix en Provence, you can go see them here.

Knowing that we don't have much time to spend in Marseille, I only had one thing that I wanted to see there and it was the Basilica Notre Dame de La Garde. For some reason (which I also don't know why), I am one who don't really take public transports if I can, in the cities I travelled in. If somewhere in the world wide web it is written that you can walk there, I would walk there. I'll take the metro because I think that is straight forward but I don't take buses. This time around, Mau kinda made the decision of no, we're not gonna walk there, we're gonna take the public transport! I have to say, she made the right decision. First we took the metro down to the old port (Vieux Port). This is a port where there are many boats dock.

Arriving there, we went to the tourism office to ask about the least painful way to go to the Basilica up on the hill. The nice guy told us the bus to take and after some time waiting, the bus did arrive. It happened to be a crazy day because there was a pretty massive jam. I got a seat next to a french lady and I asked her if it's like that every day. She said no and she wasn't sure why the traffic was so bad that day. When we got through the jam, it was time for the bus to navigate through the very narrow and pretty steep road up the hill. Both me and the lady thought it was very incredible that the bus and its driver could do this. The lady was pretty nice. She thought I was a japanese and I think it's hilarious. Thanks to her, we go off at the right stop which is actually the last stop for the bus. The bus stops in a few bus stops near the church compound but if one doesn't stop at the last bus stop, one still needs to climb up to reach the church. The lady said she lives next door to the church but there's nothing else but the church in that area so I wonder if she's actually a nun but I don't know what the french word for 'nun' is so I couldn't ask her. Little conversation like this really made my trip memorable. I got to talk to a stranger and obviously my french is bad but to be able to speak to her in french and she understood me and I understood her, I think it's pretty cool. It would be good if our conversation can be deeper and longer, however I can only speak so much with my limited french and I don't think she speaks english.

Anyway I was blown away by the basilica. Its location being on top of the hill, I guess made it not so easy for people to visit. Well maybe because it's already pretty late in the afternoon when we were there that there weren't many tourists and I liked it that way. Also because of its location, you can see a great view of Marseille. The sky was blue and bright and you can see the blue sea as well. It was breathtaking. The church itself is so beautiful for me. Granted it's not the biggest and richest (richly decorated with gold artifacts and such) church I've seen but I love it. The lady said, La basilique est très jolie. I thought jolie (cute / pretty) is understating it, I thought it was really really beautiful. I wished I could tell the lady how I love the church. It's bright and airy and being bright is such a plus point because many of these old churches tend to be dark inside them but this church is naturally bright with its windows. It has a lot of decoration related to ships in it. It makes sense because Marseille is a port town. I think it makes it pretty unique. As for the facade, the marbles reminded me of the Duomo in Florence and Siena. I just read in Wikipedia, it seems the white marbles did come from Carrara, the same place where the marbles that were used in the Duomo in Florence and Siena come from. The basilica really took my breathe away. The wind was strong though and at one point it made it pretty scary to explore the outside area. The silly me felt scared I would be blown away. Hmm ... now that I wrote such glorious compliments about it, I kinda missed being there, seeing the view I saw and feeling what I felt. It made me hope and wish I can go back to Marseille again one day, see the church, and spend longer time there. It felt pretty peaceful to be seeing Marseille from the top, especially knowing that it's so busy and chaotic down there. The church is the only thing we saw in Marseille, so I don't have many pictures of the city. You can go here to see pictures of the Basilica and Marseille's Old Port (Vieux Port).

By the way, the hotel we stayed in Barcelona was very very near Plaça de Catalunya and Las Ramblas. I was thinking that it must be so crazy there yesterday with the Champions League final between Barça and MU, which Barcelona won :) Also, with the recent Spanish protests happening which I think will continue to happen in the near future, I feel kinda blessed that it didn't happen when I was there and at the same time, since I fell in love with Barcelona, I really hope that things will get better in Spain soon and this beautiful and amazing city don't get ruined.

PS: I couldn't remember where I watched this music video, most probably in Paris. Anyway I made a note to get this song and I did and I got the whole album, Cantina Paradise, and I LOVE IT!!! It's interesting to know that the singer was bornt in Marseille :)

:) eKa @ 10:19:00 PM •

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