Discovering Marseilles, France

Marseilles, France. The first stop on a backpacking adventure with my sister Molly, and our friend Matt. I beat them to our hostel, Vertigo Vieux-Port, by a few hours. I had just come in from Turkey and they were still on the way from the US so I decided to take the scenic route. The bus from the airport dropped me off at the main train station in the middle of the city. I had a map and was tired of sitting so I thought I would walk to the hostel from there. Mistake. My pack didn’t seem very heavy walking from one terminal to another or on similar short walks, but trekking through the hilly city was a different story. My legs were burning. And the pack on my back and the backpack on my front made me feel a bit foolish walking through the busy streets. I cursed myself for packing those two sweatshirts, the extra jeans, and all those other things a first-time backpacker thinks he/she cannot go without for a few weeks. The walk took nearly thirty minutes and it was a bit painful, but I was proud of myself when I finally made it to the hostel.

Marseilles wasn’t exactly what I had imagined. Where I had expected to find a beach city with little yellow houses along the coast, there were dirty streets, beggars, and buildings all the way down to the small marina near the hostel. It occurred to me that I never looked up anything on Marseilles before suggesting we go there, and Molly found the hostel so I didn’t even see anything online during that process. I had just remembered it from French class and thought it would be a cool city to see. I’m glad now that I never did look it up because we might have chosen a different destination. Though it wasn’t what I expected, Marseilles was a wonderful place to visit.

I was surprised at the number of attractions in and nearby Marseilles. We took a bus to the nearby beach town of Cassis, visited Chateau D’if, and took a boat tour of the nearby Calanques. And there was no shortage of fellow travelers to explore with. We met some of the friendliest people of the entire trip in the common area of Vertigo Vieux-Port. There was a couple from Wisconsin, two Canadian guys, a few Norwegian solo travelers, our French roommate, and a number of other backpackers that came and went over the course of our four-night stay.

My mind wandered with anxious optimism as I laid in bed the first night in Marseilles. Molly turned in her top bunk above me, Matt was asleep with his computer on his chest, our new roommate Amelie snored, and before I knew it, the sun was up and we were making plans to visit Chateau D’if.

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Discovering Marseilles, France