The first day started early – I had to catch a 5:55 am flight from Athens to Marseille via Rome (with Alitalia). The boarding process in the Athens airport is usually straightforward but this time we nearly missed the flight due to huge lines in security – for some reason, the airport management had put two or three departing flights on the same remote gates served by just 2 security lines – you can imagine the queues. Peculiar
Afterwards, the flight(s) were mostly uneventful. The stopover in Rome was around 2:30 hours, so I had a little breakfast, an espresso and boarded the next plane for the short trip to Marseille. Thankfully I selected a window seat and had the opportunity for some GREAT shots as the plane was approaching the city
After touchdown I took the shuttle bus to the center of Marseille, the Gare Saint-Charles. From there the metro for 2 stops to the Vieux Port, where my hotel was located. Easy transfer, although the heat had started to pick up and take its toll
After check-in (I had to climb 5 levels of stairs to get up to my room – no elevator!. I knew it beforehand of course. But still 🙂 ) I took a shower .. and out for exploration. The Vieux Port is MAGNIFICENT. It reminded me a lot of the Zeas Port in Pireaus. The Vieux Port was the centre of the ancient Greek collony of Massalia and is still the cultural centre of modern Marseille.
At first I walked across the northern pier up to the end. Walking up I noticed the wind was picking up and by the end of the pier it was so extreme I had to keep my glasses in my pocket, as the wind was taking them away. So that’s how I got my taste of the Mistral
I wanted to visit Fort Saint-Jean and the MuCEM but they were closed, Ι suppose due to the extreme winds. Ah well, I walked around and up to the nearby cathedral (de la Major) and then down to the Port to use the bike-sharing programme Le Velo and rent a bike to continue my exploration of Marseille
Renting a bicycle is straightforward and easy. I had already booked a PIN from the Internet so all I had to do is enter the number, select a bike and … go. I first went just around the corner of the port. I particulary enjoyed passing by the ferris wheel and the magnificent Vieux Port Pavillion, a giant mirror canopy constructed in 2013 near the entrance of the metro station which provides shadow and reflects the surroundings and passers by. (and also constitues a most photogenic opportunity for all kinds of photography enthusiasts 🙂
Then I left the bike at the station in Cours Honore d’Estienne d’ Orves for a short stop there, for a refreshment and a little snack at the little square full of restaurants and cafes.
(continued … in part 2)