I arrived in France the day after the attack in Nice. I’ve written before about why terrorist attacks should not prevent you from travelling (this post was geared toward Turkey though it needs updated after the coup attempt, but it applies to France as well), but I’ve never travelled to a country so soon after one. France was in a declared Three Days of Mourning, with the flags at half mast. We considered not even coming to France at all, but rather just taking the train from Barcelona and not getting off until Italy. We decided to still got to Marseille, but cut our stay short and to skip the one-night stop in Nice that we planned. In Marseille, life was functioning as normal with plenty of people out and on the streets.
My French is essentially non-existent, but Marseille is a place where English is seldom spoken and generally used as a last resort, unlike in Reykjavik or even Barcelona when people realize you’re a native English speaker.
Rather the first question asked (in English) is “Do you speak French?” Non. Je ne parle pas francias. I learned about ten words in French and had to use them all of the time. I was pleased that “le chat” or “the cat” was one of the only words I knew prior to arrival in France and that it actually came in handy when I saw laundry detergent called “le chat!”
The thing I liked most about Marseille was that it did not have the “tourist” feel to it, unlike so many other cities. I heard far more French than English spoken and most places seemed to be frequented by locals as well as the few tourists.
We went to the oldest soap shop in Marseille, Savon de Marseille, where we not only saw a clever timeline about the history of soap and tried some, the girl working spoke excellent English and gave us loads of insider recommendations of what to see in Marseille. One of those recommendations was Les Terraces du Port at sunset. It was a gorgeous view and I think we were the only non-locals there.
One of the highlights was taking a ferry to Isle d’Frioul. On the way, we passed Chateau d’If, the island perhaps most famous for being the setting for The Count of Monte Cristo. The beaches at Frioul were a gorgeous deep blue colour and I could have stayed on the beach for hours!
As always, our stay flew by and soon we were on a train to Italy!
Well, it has been almost two months since I last blogged. I shall have to fill in on the happenings in London over the last couple months soon. (There it's in writing; hold me accountable!) So, to break my blogging hiatus, here's a recap of the trip I took to Basel, Switzerland over my birthday weekend. I love how when living in London, anything can be used to justify a trip!
Since Switzerland is pretty expensive at the moment, and Basel is right on the Swiss/German/French border I decided to book a hotel room right over the border in Germany. We left London obnoxiously early in the morning, but we brought eight birthday cupcakes on the flight to make the morning better. As we were enjoying them at 8 AM, a flight attendant walked past asking us if we wanted a RyanAir menu. We obviously declined.
When we arrived at the airport, we did not yet know how the tram system worked, so we attempted to take a taxi from the French side of the airport. However, all the taxis were oddly driverless, so we got one from the German side. When we reached our hotel, there was no in at reception and all the signs on the door were in German. No one answered our phone calls. Luckily, there was a random Turkish restaurant with a few workers that spoke minimal English. They were willing to host us until the reception at our hotel finally decided to return from lunch break!
Another annoying aspect of Basel, was that everything except for a few markets was closed on Sunday! For the country with the world's most thriving currency, I was not expecting them to close all their business for the full day! We still managed to catch a tram to France for lunch, visit a market, and explore the old town.
Basel was gorgeous and had lots of the great architecture.
On our last day in Basel, I braved the cold and slight snow for a quick walk on the Rhein. It was really pretty!
None of the signs were in German and at one point, even my started thinking I spoke German.
It was quite interesting trying to figure out what everything meant! Luckily, there were always helpful English speakers who were able to assist us. Of course, just because I can't speak German, doesn't mean that I don't pretend like I can speak German. There was an Aldi right beside our hotel. Even my little hometown has an Aldi and it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I realized it originated in Germany.
Therefore, I decided I could go over and just pretend to be German. It started off well. I found some Swiss chocolate and muesli and was standing in the queue at the till (see how British I sounded there?) The check out lady said, "Guten tag." So I said, "Guten tag." Then she said something and I smiled and nodded and handed her my credit card. And she said something else. So I smiled and nodded. And then the lady behind me asked if I spoke English and said, "We don't take debit cards here." I thanked her and tried to pay with Swiss francs. She kindly translated that they didn't accept that kind of currency there either. Well, blending in didn't go so well!
Overall, it was a great trip and I'd love to go back to that area!
Coming soon (see it's in writing so everyone can hold me accountable): London updates over the past two months!
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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